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Breaking Down the Massive Hudson Yards, Piece by Piece

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Related Companies will be breaking ground on the 26-acre Hudson Yards development within the next couple of weeks, and last month, for the very first time, all of the project's designers met to talk about their respective buildings. New York Magazine's archicritic Justin Davidson got to attend the meeting, and his latest article gives a look at details of Hudson Yards' $6 billion first phase. The "city within a city" will cap the yards with an $800 million concrete roof and top it with the country's largest and densest real-estate development. Imagine something like the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, only five times bigger.

The Office Towers
Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, the tallest buildings within Hudson Yards will be two office towers, one of which will house Coach. The tower at 30th Street "genuflects toward Tenth Avenue on muscular concrete legs," and "the crown greets the skyline at a jaunty tilt." At West 33rd Street, the other office rises 1,300 feet, sloping away from its sister, creating a cone of space in the skyline. "With any luck, you should be able to stand at the foot of these towers and feel sheltered but not squashed."

A 'Retail Extravaganza'
The two office towers will be linked by a five-floor, two-block long retail space. Its architect Howard Elkus says, "We don't want this to feel like a mall." Pedestrian walkways will extend the streets inside, cutting through the building, and glass walls will let in copious amounts of sunlight. On the fourth floor, restauranteur Danny Meyer will curate a slew of "informal but high-end" food options. The fifth floor will have more expensive restaurants and a ten-screen movie theater.

The Culture Shed
Davidson calls the Culture Shed the "most intriguing and mysterious" piece in the Hudson Yards puzzle. The city refuses to discuss details of the space, like what it would be used for or who would pay to build or operate it, but Related really wants it to happen. Elizabeth Diller of DS+R and David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group worked together to design a flexible gallery complex that could accomodate just about anything. Davidson thinks it could give the project "the highbrow legitimacy and cutting-edge cool it needs to become an integral part of New York." Some crazy earlier renderings show the space filled with work by balloon-animal pop artist Jeff Koons.

The Residential Tower
Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and David Rockwell, the site's only all-residential tower sits at 30th Street and 11th Avenue. "It's an architectural griffin, grafting together rectilinear rental units on the lower floors with flower-petal condo layouts up high?about 680 apartments in all. The fantastically idiosyncratic bulges and dimples join in complicated ways that make the glass façade look quilted."

The Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Tower
David Childs of Skidmore Owings and Merrill was tasked with creating a tower to house a large Equinox gym, offices, an orthopedic hospital, a sports emporium, a hotel, and condos. The slender tower has a curved base and textured exterior that has "vertical folds with stone on one side and glass on the other, as if a palazzo had merged with a modernist shaft." "Hudson Yards is a city within a city. This tower is a city within a city?within a city," says Childs.

The Public Space
Stephen Ross, chairman of Related, sees the public plaza as "a modern-day Trevi Fountain," "a town square alive with purpose and electricity." Landscape architect Thomas Woltz is tasked with designing the five-acre space, and plans are still somewhat up in the air. Currently, the design is a paved eclipsed outlined with artistically-trimmed trees. Ross is still searching for an artist to create the monumental fountain.

The Whole Shebang
In the words of David Childs, "We want this project to be laced through with public streets, so that everyone has ownership of it, whether you're arriving in your $100,000 limo or pushing a shopping cart full of your belongings."
· From 0 to 12 Million Square Feet [NYM]
· Hudson Yards coverage [Curbed]

Hudson Yards

, Manhattan, NY 10001