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2016 MCHAP

VIA at West 57th

Bjarke Ingles Group

New York, NY, USA

February 2015


Bjarke Ingels, BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group


SLCE (Architect of Record) Thornton Tomasetti (Structural Engineer) Philip Habib & Associates (Traffic Engineer) Hunter Roberts Construction Group (Cost Estimator) Starr Whitehouse (Landscape Architects) Dagher Engineering (MEP/FP Engineer) Langan (Engineering & Environmental Services) Israel Berger & Associates (Building Envelope Consultant) Nancy Packes (Real Estate Consultant) Enclos (Facade Engineer) AKRF ("Environmental, Planning, and Engineering) Cerami & Associates, Inc. (Acoustic) CPP, Inc. (Wind Engineering and air quality consultants) Van Deusen Associates (Vertical Transportation)


The Durst Organization


BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group


VIA is a hybrid between the traditional European courtyard block and the classic Manhattan skyscraper, creating a new typology: the “courtscraper.” VIA’s unique shape combines the advantages of both skyscraper and courtyard: the compactness and efficiency of a classic courtyard building provide a sense of intimacy and security, while the height provides the airiness and the expansive views of a classic NYC skyscraper. By keeping three corners of the block low and lifting the north-east corner, the courtyard opens views towards the Hudson River, bringing low western sun deep into the block and preserving the adjacent tower’s views of the river. The concept takes the shape of a sloped surface with a large courtyard opening; beginning with a simple courtyard block extrusion, the building rises up 143 meters on its north-east corner to reach Manhattan-level density. Geometrically, the shape is a hyperbolic paraboloid—this mathematical representation of a three-dimensional surface is at its most expressive from the west, where the building’s “warped pyramid” shape contrasts starkly with the rectilinear forms of its surrounding buildings.


BIG was commissioned to design VIA by New York developer, The Durst Organization. As the builder of the world’s first LEED Platinum skyscraper, The Durst Organization is at the cutting edge of dense, urban sustainable building; coupled with BIG’s previous experience building the 8 House, VM, and Mountain mixed-use residential developments in Copenhagen, the VIA project became an opportunity to collaborate and bring together elements of the sustainable NYC skyscraper with innovative Danish architecture. The project had to resolve issues inherent to the challenged site: an uneven plot in a flood-evacuation zone, bounded on all sides by a power plant, sanitation department, a heavily-trafficked highway, and a residential tower owned by the same client. The challenge was then to design an innovative building that could work within these narrow site constraints and challenging adjacencies. Originally, the block was zoned for a low-rise industrial building of less than 10 stories. This limited the team from adding more residential units and developing certain retail uses. However, by working closely with the city through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, the team secured modifications to the existing zoning restrictions in order to develop a high-rise residential tower that could satisfy the density of units desired by the client.


By successfully rezoning the site to add hundreds more of allowable residential units, it became possible to start re-imagining the typical NYC large-scale residential building—known for its stacked “wedding-cake” skyscrapers that bring neither daylight nor fresh air into the interior. BIG looked at the typical residential building typology in Copenhagen—the courtyard block—for precedent; in Copenhagen courtyards, facades frame nature on all four sides, providing residents with direct access to nature. By incorporating this courtyard typology into the Manhattan grid, VIA allows open space to invade the urban fabric. The sloped courtyard subtly rises up at the south-west corner, where the facade meets earth at hand-rail height, creating a human relationship that is tactile and understandable in scale. Like a metropolitan backyard, the courtyard is framed by all the amenities of the building, located on the lower levels. Above, at the apartment unit levels, residents can look into this urban oasis, their very own Central Park. Coupled with 45,000SF of retail space at the ground floor, VIA is a compelling and lively new addition to its neighborhood. VIA's materials, products, construction methods and operations were carefully vetted with a view of their impact on both the environment and daily living experience.

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