New York’s New Horizons

NYC is experiencing an architectural renaissance as stunning buildings by star architects such as Zaha Hadid and Bjarke Ingels are taking shape across the city, creating new icons for the world’s most iconic skyline.

Words Rocky Casale


It’s not easy getting things built in New York City. Realising an architectural idea in this town, be it a museum, a parking lot, or an 80-story apartment building, takes years of planning, fundraising, litigation with neighbours, brokering deals over air rights — the list goes on. Then there was the considerable complication of the 2008 financial crisis that sent global economies into a tailspin, and placed many of NYC’s construction projects on hold pending a bounce back from the fiscal abyss. But eight years later, it seems like most of the city’s plans, if not completed, are significantly back on track; and also that work is steadily chugging ahead on some of the most exciting new buildings New York’s avenues have seen in decades.


Much of that has to do with the revival of urban centres like New York’s Hudson Yards, the Meatpacking and Chelsea neighbourhoods and the locality of the World Trade Centers destroyed by terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Hudson Yards alone has been named the largest private real-estate development in the history of the United States. When completed, it will add 4,000 new residential homes to New York, not to mention thousand of jobs, and 14 acres of plazas, playgrounds, three parks and dozens of retail and culinary destinations. The architecture is clever, innovative, even a bit whimsical and complementary to its surroundings. And so, as the city is poised to reclaim its spot as one of the leading global innovators in urban architecture and planning, here are a few of the new buildings that promise to change the New York City skyline…

520 West 28

Designed by Zaha Hadid
“A futuristic public sculpture…”

A thicket of new condos is sprouting up around Manhattan’s downtown west side, thanks to The Highline elevated park. Among them is the late Zaha Hadid’s 520 West 28th Street, a stack of condos that rise up from the ground like elegant folds of ribbon candy.
The graceful lines and curved glass detailing of this hand-polished steel building are a great departure from the rigid angles of the neighbourhood’s existing architecture. Hadid’s new building sits right off the Highline, and is a breathtaking sight to encounter, like some futuristic public sculpture. What you can’t see are some of the property’s insanely extravagant amenities, like its communal IMAX Theatre and lobby with sculptural walls. It is one of Manhattan’s most expensive pieces of real estate, too, with its penthouse at a market value of $50 million.
520 West 28th St., NY 10001

Whitney Downtown

Designed by Renzo Piano
“Materials reference the history of the Meatpacking District’s industrial lofts…”

When the Whitney Museum announced that it would leave its brutalist home in uptown Manhattan for a sleeker location in the city’s Meatpacking District, no one knew how the move or the new building would change both neighbourhoods. The new Whitney, a design of Renzo Piano, opened after the Highline park, which the building abuts, and added more buzz and activity to this burgeoning west-side enclave than many people believed it could support. The building’s asymmetrical form, and use of glass and metal materials, reference the history of the Meatpacking District’s industrial lofts. There are more than 50,000 square feet of indoor galleries, 13,000 square feet of outdoor galleries and terraces, and a wealth of dazzling features, like the building’s cantilevered entrance that opens onto an 8,500-square-foot public space. It’s an ideal spot to visit in the mornings when the galleries are quiet, or in the evenings from the terraces as the sun sets on the museum.
99 Gansevoort St, NY 10014


Designed by Herzog & de Meuron

Nicknamed the ‘Jenga Building’, architects Herzog & de Meuron’s new design at 56 Leonard Street is a playful arrangement of apartments perilously stacked in the sky. This is the architecture firm’s first Manhattan tower and it has clearly pulled out all the stops. From any vantage point you choose to gaze at this downtown anomaly, a different shape or angle or shadow is rendered – the building has jarring cantilevers, giant expanses of glass and very precise surfaces that open up onto private balconies. One can only imagine the views from the top floor – vistas of all of downtown Manhattan and beyond, to where the rivers join the Atlantic.
56 Leonard St, NY 10013

The Shed

Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The south end of Hudson Yards, where the Highline tapers to a close, will be the new home of The Shed (previously known as The Culture Shed), a 180,000-foot expandable cultural venue designed by architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The firm, which was heavily involved in various aspects of the Highline redevelopment, envisioned The Shed as a space that would house temporary shows, concerts, and other cultural events that would otherwise not make it to town because of the city’s limited space and booked-out venues. The structure will protrude from a new skyscraper, also designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and is envisioned as a home for artistic invention – an imaginative space station including three expandable galleries with an open rooftop plan, all of which is straddled by a 150-foot-tall tent-like structure that can be extended over the galleries like a large turbine tent, and retract to be tucked away behind the galleries. The project is expected to completed in 2019.
Hudson Yards, NY, 10001


Going Up

Check out these recommendations for the best resources about NYC architecture… is the go-to city blog for all things architecture and urban planning in New York. The blog catalogues newly proposed projects, explains their details, lists photos of buildings under construction, and even publishes blurbs about some of the politics in the complicated business that is building in Manhattan.

Levy’s Unique New York
Levy’s Unique New York takes travellers on two- to eight-hour illuminating tours of the architectural riches of Manhattan. Whether you’re a fan of French Revival and Neo Gothic styles, or simply want to want to discover New York through a different lens, there is something on this tour for everyone. is similar to Curbed, though it focuses exclusively on New York. The blog posts news about NYC interiors, architecture, new developments, trends and history, with a smattering of gossipy celebrity nonsense with a real-estate twist.

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