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 12th Annual Curbed Awards! Up now: the best of New York City's new architecture.
This was a year of big transition for New York City architecture. Last year brought the topping out of 432 Park Avenue and Bjarke Ingels's tetrahedron, and announcement after announcement of yet another supertall tower poised to rise in Manhattan. While 2015 was more tame on that front, the year has seen some of those many plans spring into action, and has delivered on some long-awaited projects deserving of some praise. Here now, the best new architecture—reveals, makeovers, and conversions included—of 2015.
[Image via whitney.org]
Award For the Overall Best New Addition to New York City Love it or hate it, the Whitney Museum of American Art's new home in the Meatpacking District is a significant building. One of the first of its kind to move its home base downtown, the new museum is, in the words of New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, "a signal contribution to downtown and the city's changing cultural landscape." Sure, Renzo Piano's $422 million design has drawn comparisons to a double-decker bus and a "prodigiously misassembled" Ikea flat pack, but it has also won praise for being better at what it's built for than MoMA, and for interacting with its surroundings—the views, the light, the High Line it rises above—in a way that's meaningful beyond its apparent form.
The Fun to Watch Rise Award In 2014, architects proved that they were tired of designing within the same old box—with the exception of Raphael Viñoly and the comedically boxy 432 Park Avenue—as they unveiled extreme and extravagant designs for new buildings. Now, those designs are being actualized and it is oh-so-enjoyable to watch. 3) 625 West 57th Street: Although Bjarke Ingels's west side tetrahedron, now known as Via, garnered the same recognition in last year's Best New Architecture round-up, it's still one of the city's most interesting projects to watch come together. The pyramid topped out in 2014, but its whole look continues to transform as its siding goes up. 2) Carmel Place: The units of the city's first modular micro building were fabricated off-site in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, so watching the building come together over the period of one month was almost like watching a build out of a larger-than-life Lego set. After all, it only took about 15 minutes for each unit to be set. 1) 520 West 28th Street: Zaha Hadid's 520 West 28th Street is the architect's first New York City project, bringing the Prizker winner's particular brand of right angle-spurning architecture to Manhattan. Though the building, which will be complete in mid-2016, still lacks the swooping chevron patterns that characterizes its exterior, its quick progress means they'll be showing up very soon.
[The lobby of Ralph Walker Tribeca. Photograph by Max Touhey.]
Best Conversions 4) 212 Fifth Avenue: The century-old office building on the northwest corner of Madison Square Park debuted this year—in renderings, at least—as 48 luxe condos. The conversion will restore the building's parapet and interior details. Just wait, it'll be downright classy. 3) 70 Pine Street: The elusive Art Deco skyscraper at 70 Pine Street has been closed off to the public since Wall Street bigwigs AIG moved in in the 1970s. Now, in the midsts of a conversion to rentals, the building's lovely lobby is open to visitors once more. 2) Ralph Walker Tribeca: The late Art Deco architect's New York City buildings are being converted into luxury condos for a reason: they're stunning. And the architect's World Trade Center-adjacent tower is no exception. After years in development, the building finally welcomed prospective buyers in in 2015 to gawk at its gorgeous lobby full of sumptuous materials like travertine and black marble. The apartments aren't half-bad either. 1) New York Edition Hotel: Constructed in 1909, the 50-story clock tower on the north edge of Madison Square Park has reemerged from a past as the world headquarters of MetLife as a swanky yet staid hotel. The project was masterminded by Ian Schrager, the ingenue behind Gramercy Park Hotel and Hudson, who's crafted the historically significant building into 273 hotel rooms (for which rates started at $675/night as of the hotel's May opening.)
[Photo of National Sawdust by Floto + Warner, courtesy Bureau V. Via Curbed.com.]
Best Makeovers 2) St. Ann's Warehouse: After a protracted battle to transform Dumbo's 1860's tobacco warehouse into a home for experimental theater group St. Ann's Warehouse, the project finally debuted this October to rave reviews. The Civil War-era tobacco warehouse's shell was preserved and enclosed for the first time in 40 years by a topper made of glass bricks and reflective mortar. The theater serves the needs of its company with seating that can be added or removed, and an adjustable performance space. A bonus: the 7,800-square-foot open-air garden. 1) National Sawdust: Talk about a radical transformation. Taking this year's title of best makeover is Williamsburg's National Sawdust, a new concert hall crafted inside of a former sawdust factory (surprise!) at the corner of North 6th and Berry streets. The building's transformation is consummate: its interiors, created by Brooklyn-based firm Bureau V, resemble nothing of a traditional concert hall. Instead, they reflect the venue's mission statement: it is a place for exploration and discovery, for pushing the limits of the norm.
[Rendering via DBOX.]
Biggest Reveal Just when everyone got tired of waiting and let out their collective breath, Bjarke Ingels sent a visual punch to the gut by delivering renderings for 2 World Trade Center, the last of the fraught, redeveloping site's towers to rise. The Danish architect's vision for the 1,340-foot tower of stacked boxes is elaborate, and is intended to emulate "a vertical village of singular buildings stacked on top of each other to create parks and plazas in the sky," according to a video created by the architect. Nearly a decade and a half after the site's redevelopment commenced, its vision is complete.
Building of the Year Like the new Whitney, love it or hate it, it was a big year for 432 Park Avenue. The city's tallest residential tower—tallest tower, really, not counting 1 World Trade Center's spire—began welcoming tenants in 2015, as closings began in mid-November. Plebes were also welcomed in with the first photos from inside the building. The 1,396-foot tower is among the first supertall luxury buildings to rise in New York City, "a lonesome denuded redwoodyearning for mates as it dominates what's become a lower field of retro shrubbery," says the New York Times. The lockbox in the sky is now at least 70-percent in contract, although unsold units in the building are now being split-up to attract more buyers. It is a harbinger of New York City's shifting skyline, and the embodiment of its 21st century vision of grandeur.