Manhattan’s classic skyscrapers are a powerful combination of optimistic expression and technical invention. 111 West 57th Street updates that heritage for today.
With a total height of 1,428 feet, the residential tower at 111 West 57th Street is among the tallest buildings in New York City. As a prominent new local and regional landmark, it bears a special responsibility to contribute meaningfully and elegantly to the shared skyline. We achieved that goal by carefully shaping the tower’s profile, and by developing an innovative approach to using an authentic material from the golden age of the Manhattan skyscraper: terra-cotta.
The tower’s form is a bold interpretation of what is possible within the requirements of the Midtown Manhattan zoning envelope. Mandated setbacks were multiplied where the building form contacts the sky-exposure plane, resulting in a feathered rather than a stepped profile. The setbacks serve as sites for a finial at the top of each column of the terra-cotta ornament that rises on the east and west facades. Without mimicking historic precedent, this approach unifies the massing of 111 West 57th Street in the tradition of classic towers such as One Wall Street, 30 Rockefeller Center, or the Empire State Building.
Terra-cotta is one of the most beautiful and adaptable materials available to architects today. For 111 West 57th Street, blocks of sequentially varying profiles were modeled, extruded, glazed, and then stacked into an involuted pattern, like a softly breaking wave, that appears at once novel and familiar. Staggering those elements across the facade creates a distinctive moiré that changes dramatically when seen in different lights or from various distances.
From the Facade Engineers: BuroHappold
Reaching new heights in elegance and innovation
Located in the heart of midtown Manhattan, 111 West 57th Street is formed from the original landmark Steinway building and a new tower built alongside it. The 316,000 ft2 mixed-use tower takes advantage of sweeping views of Central Park, and will feature residential apartments and a large retail component with shared recreation spaces and lobby.
The design of the new tower has been conceived to bring back the essence of historic New York City towers while employing the latest technology to push the limits in engineering and fabrication. This is apparent in the narrowness and height of the structure, which is 45 ft wide and more than 1,400 ft tall.
The building features textured terracotta ornamental and bronze detailing, which references traditional approaches while providing a rich aesthetic. A key requirement for our team is to ensure that the facade is capable of supporting the heavy weight of the terracotta, especially given the building’s extreme slenderness.
BuroHappold is providing facade engineering services for the tower envelope as well as the new 57th Street entrance. The north and south orientations will employ a fully glazed curtain wall system, and the east and west orientations will consist of a curtain wall with custom terracotta rainscreen panels. The 57th Street entrance will be an elegant glazed facade with bronze accented structural elements.
In order to successfully deliver the terracotta and bronze elements, our team of specialists employed their extensive knowledge to perform a robust analysis of the facade materials and their geometry for feasibility, serviceability and adherence to the architect’s vision.
The forward thinking approach to engineering and architectural design is immediately visible from the narrowness and height of the structure, as well as in the technical and material boundaries the tower explores. When completed, the building will not only become one of the thinnest skyscrapers in the world, but will also take its place on New York’s skyline as one of the city’s tallest and most iconic buildings.