Building study: 111 West 57th Street

2021DS15-001RE__David Sundberg-ESTOCrop

The world’s skinniest skyscraper gloriously embraces the rich legacy of Manhattan’s historic skyline, but it also raises awkward questions around sustainability and affordable housing, writes Ben Flatman

Designing a tall building is a big responsibility in any context. But getting the chance to design a brand-new skyscraper in New York must be one of the biggest challenges any architect can face. 

Our familiarity with the Chrysler, the Empire State, and the city’s soaring peaks and echoing canyons has made the Manhattan skyline more than iconic. People around the world who have never even visited have an attachment to it that is akin to a sense of ownership. It is, as much as a huge chunk of towering real estate ever can be, public property.

So, what do you do when a developer comes knocking and you’re asked to make your own addition to the world’s most recognisable cityscape? This was the challenge that faced Dana Getman when developer Michael Stern approached SHoP Architects in 2013, with a commission for a super thin Midtown skyscraper.

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