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Rafael Vinoly's Early Design for 22 Thames Street Revealed

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A day after Tribeca Citizen first noted that 432 Park Avenue's Rafael Vinoly was the new architectural mastermind behind a rumored 60-story rental building at 22 Thames Street, Vinoly's team (along with representatives for owners Fisher Brothers and the Witkoff Group) presented the project at a Community Board 1 meeting last night with a few more surprises in tow. Surprise #1: the developer actually has the right to build an 85-story building on the site, which would put 22 Thames in a dead heat for height with, oh, just about most of the neighboring World Trade Center complex. That height prompted an audible "holy shit" from attendees at the CB 1 meeting, and that's where surprise #2 comes in: the developers are asking for a variance to build a smaller, 70-story structure instead. In a shocking display of very un-developer-like behavior, Fisher Brothers representatives argued that a lower tower would better fit the "context" of the neighborhood and act as a "hinge" from the sky-high World Trade Center to the "lower masonry buildings of Greenwich Street." Of course, the variance is for a reduction in the required setback of the tower (from 20 feet to 10-13 feet), so Vinoly's team would also walk away with larger floor plates, more reasonable massing and, in the developer's parlance, "more efficient" design.

So it's a win-win, right? CB1 members were cautiously skeptical but couldn't place their finger on the lingering whiff of suspicion until Vinoly's architect Jim Herr unleashed Surprise #3: a rendering. That's right, 22 Thames Street will most likely be tall, glassy, and non-descript. Or perhaps "banal and undistinguished" if you're a certain member of Community Board 1. The building's final rental count is still to-be-determined (with 20 percent of the units reserved for low-income families), and amenities and retail spaces will be on the bottom floors. Fisher Brothers exec Alex Adams added that the project would be "upper-echelon" in terms of environmental design and energy efficiency, and that "additional articulation" to the building's facade would be revealed by September, when the proposal will face its final rounds of approval. Demolition of the existing building at 22 Thames Street is already underway, though, and the building is projected to open by the spring of 2017, leaving CB1 residents visibly nervous about the potential for further overcrowding and nightmarish traffic circulation, as multiple other residential construction projects continue toward move-in day.
?David Stein
· Rafael Vinoly Is the Starchitect Behind 22 Thames Street [Curbed]
· 22 Thames Street coverage [Curbed]