New York City, New York, USA
A Collaboration with Richard Liu

Permeated by a Ferrissian dream, we envisioned a City of Captive Zoning; not as a trite recapitulation of a metropolitan archipelago, as in Rem Koolhaas’ varying architectural merveilles, but as a territory of embryonic conditions – exploitation of zoning formulae to create phantasms from the antinomy of pure reason – in which we dared to imagine an urbanism unforeseen.

The specificity of the site occupying the adjacent lot from an international territory of the UN Headquarters establishes a hinging condition in relation to its locality and the urbanism of Manhattan. With this in mind, an elevated tabula rasa podium was critically antithetical to a site that must inherently subsume the state of confluence. Therefore, we conceptualized to create a ground-plane that negotiates the topographical difference of the site spanning from 30ft high on the city grid to the riverfront; effectively, not to negate the tyranny of the ground but to re-appropriate it as a positive amenity. In addition, we sought to create micro-urban interventions at the ground level to variegate the mega-block site of what is equivalent to three city blocks, yet retain the identity of the dense rising mass. We took this opportunity to instantiate the urban hardscape in order to fragment the mega-block into a micro-urban field of activities. The indexical traces of the two streets of 39th and 40th establish a datum for dividing the site into a tripartite conceptual plot, where the tower footprints will avoid the penetrating thoroughfares. 

From the interconnected web of codified contingencies that framed the initial studies of mass, density and form, we identified the sky exposure prism resulting from the Manhattan zoning code as a major constraint. Moreover, the maximum allowable FAR remained one of the key elements that drove the project throughout the design process. Beginning with our initial massing studies, we attempted to design a system whereby one could fragment the bulk into smaller, individual units that can be re-aggregated into a form that subsumes the Ferrissian prism without colliding with it. We applied this aggregate piecemeal process to better control the relationship of the massive forms to the urban constraints engendering a totality that retains cogency with the overall urban strategy. The indices of those invisible planes leave traces in the making of the final massing. Ascending from the ground plane as individual threaded towers, this skyscraper begins to merge as a singular rising mass as it reaches its apex. Thus, the project aims to create multiple connections amongst the branching members of the building that allows for the sharing of core services while providing structural support to the leaning elements of individual residential units. The ensuing hybrid marriage of program and structure becomes the identity of the tower itself.

A mathematical antecedent, which generated the inflicted coil, was used in this piecemeal strategy. As the result, the dendrite tower acts as an interdependent structural system to create what is essentially a leaning A-frame structure.  Lateral resistance was added by two fragments of the arc-sin-derived coil that are placed on both ends of the tower collective. Elevator core analyses resulted in the selection of a combinatorial system comprised of conventional perpendicular cores in lower floors which then switches to inclined cores at a maximum of 80 degrees - conventionally available in the market - at transfer floors. The cores, structural skin, and overall coiling form engender a structural totality that is inextricably interdependent. Hence, the Neo-Manhattan skyscraper is a relational structure rather than a compositional one, whereby density and form produce unyielding efficiencies of urban housing. 

The novel spatiality of a typical suburban housing typology, as a “one plot per owner system,” was re-appropriated here into the culture of urban-density. The Neo-Manhattan Tower, therefore, seeks to accommodate the singular amidst the collective while maintaining the identity of each residential function. At the juncture of connections, the housing programs become combined into unique moments of cross-fertilization between private residences as well as hotel guests into a social mixture of shared programming such as athletic facilities, sky-bars/cafes, commercial spaces, restaurants, and art galleries in the urban sky-scape. Hence, the Neo-Manhattan Tower is mandated to redefine the habitation of urban existence at the cusp of the 21st Century by negating typical programmatic differentiations of sterile lifestyle high-rises. Due to the agency of each individual branching member, the tower aligns its components into a true vertical city without the oppressive mass of standard extruded housing-blocks, which thus reframes the notion of our lives in a dense urbanity

nmt site view