It's time to make up a bunch of awards and hand them out to the most deserving people, places and things in the real estate, architecture and neighborhood universes of New York City! Yep, it's time for the 14th Annual Curbed Awards! Up now: the wackiest design proposals we saw this year.
Let’s be honest: 2017 was an outrageous year in all manner of speaking, so it’s natural that New York real estate—particularly, the world of wild thought experiments in design and architecture—proved to be no exception.
This year brought a handful of proposals from intrepid innovators and architecture firms dreaming of ways to shake up New York City, and they do not disappoint. From a proposal for the world’s tallest timber tower planted in the middle of Central Park’s Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir to a scheme for the world’s longest—not tallest—skyscraper, here are this year’s most out-there proposals.
↑ Central Park’s Timber Tower
What if a 720-foot-tall timber structure sprouted from Central Park’s Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir? That’s the plan from DFA Studio, who proposed the whimsical timber tower. DFA’s plan would not only be monumental as a tourist attraction, but also practical: the tower would have a filtration system in its base that would make the reservoir water potable, and be topped by a 360-degree viewing platform. Hey, at least it isn’t condos.
↑ Analemma Tower
This year was full a lot of mind-boggling things, but in the pantheon of architecture and design, Analemma Tower might be the most out-there. The proposal to suspend the tallest tower ever built from an asteroid comes courtesy of Cloud Architecture Office (who, it should be noted, has actually won an award from NASA for a different design).
So how does this work? Cables attached to an asteroid would hold the structure, whose portions would be sent up in modules from earth and constructed on-site. The asteroid and the building attached to it would then orbit the earth in the analemma pattern, from which the structure gets its name.
The structure would linger the longest in its orbit over New York City, arriving on top of the city in the morning during office hours and allowing inhabitants to—ahem—parachute down to work. This proposal definitely gets points for imagination.
↑ The Big Bend
This proposal for the world’s longest skyscraper comes by way of architecture firm Oiio, who proposed plopping the 4,000-foot-long building on Billionaires’ Row (of course). Even with its bowed shape, the world’s longest building would still be the tallest on the block, measuring over 1,968 feet. Oiio describes the building as a stunt in zoning gymnastics:
New York city’s zoning laws have created a peculiar set of tricks through which developers try to maximize their property’s height in order to infuse it with the prestige of a high rise structure. But what if we substituted height with length? What if our buildings were long instead of tall? If we manage to bend our structure instead of bending the zoning rules of New York we would be able to create one of the most prestigious buildings in Manhattan.
The proposal got a lot of attention for its audacity, but also for its likeness to Clippy, the Microsoft Office mascot of yore. See it now?
↑ Roosevelt Island Transportation Hub
Roosevelt Island is having a moment. Cornell Tech’s impressive campus just south of the Queensboro Bridge debuted this fall, and the island has also sprouted a few new residential buildings of architectural interest. In short, this skinny island sandwiched between Manhattan and Queens is poised to see a whole lot of fresh blood circulating through it on the daily.
That got French architect Victor Ostojic thinking about how the island, now somewhat inconvenient to access, could give way to a major transportation hub. Ostojic schemed up a cantilevered glass building with ground floor retail, a food court, offices in the middle portion, and a luxury hotel on top.
The transportation hub would be situated alongside the F train stop, and be built behind and incorporate the new ferry terminal. Ostojic also proposes digging out the island behind this new ferry terminal and creating a marina that would better connect the island to Queens. The terminal would also have a walkway to the subway and the tram stop, and access the pedestrian walkway on the Queensboro Bridge. Hey, there have been way less practical proposals this year.
↑ Historic Building Topper
It’s less outwardly outrageous than some other proposals from this year, but the modern glass topper designed by DXA Studio for 827-831 Broadway still earns a spot on this list.
It’s all in the timing, really: the proposal was unveiled in early November, just over a week after the twin cast-iron structures from the Civil War era became New York City landmarks. If the address doesn’t ring a bell, it’s because the buildings are better known for their former occupants—Willem and Elaine de Kooning, and influential Museum of Modern Art curator William Rubin.
DXA’s proposal makes a pass at being historically reverent. The reflective facade used for the structure is supposed to represent Willem de Kooning's rural and pastoral landscape phase, as well as his urban landscapes. The fate of the four-story topper will be left to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.