Architecture

Ambitious supertall tower turns skyscraper design on its head

Ambitious supertall tower turn...
Affirmation Tower will reach a height of 1,663 ft (506 m)
Affirmation Tower will reach a height of 1,663 ft (506 m)
View 4 Images
Affirmation Tower will reach a height of 1,663 ft (506 m)
1/4
Affirmation Tower will reach a height of 1,663 ft (506 m)
Affirmation Tower will include commercial office space and a rooftop observation terrace
2/4
Affirmation Tower will include commercial office space and a rooftop observation terrace
Affirmation Tower will feature a stepped design made up of cantilevered sections
3/4
Affirmation Tower will feature a stepped design made up of cantilevered sections
Affirmation Tower will be located in Manhattan, on a prominent plot near the Hudson Yards development
4/4
Affirmation Tower will be located in Manhattan, on a prominent plot near the Hudson Yards development
View gallery - 4 images

British/Ghanian architect Sir David Adjaye's firm has revealed plans for a very ambitious new skyscraper for New York City. Named Affirmation Tower, it's slated to become one of the Western Hemisphere's tallest buildings and will feature a striking cantilevering design that looks a little like an upside down skyscraper.

Details on the project are still light at this early stage and we've no confirmation yet that Affirmation Tower is definitely going ahead. Assuming it does though, it will rise on a prominent Manhattan plot just a block away from the Hudson Yards mega project and the High Line.

The skyscraper's overall form will be made up of a series of blocky sections stacked on top of each other, creating a stepped profile that appears to increase in width as it rises. It will reach a very impressive height of 1,663 ft (506 m) and though described in the press release as the Western Hemisphere's tallest building, that honor will actually remain with the One World Trade Center, which reaches a height of 1,791 ft (546 m). Still, Affirmation Tower is certainly no slouch in the height stakes and will be the west's second-tallest skyscraper and 11th in the world's-tallest list, as of writing. It will include commercial office space, as well as two hotels, the headquarters of the NAACP, an observation deck, and a skating rink.

Affirmation Tower will feature a stepped design made up of cantilevered sections
Affirmation Tower will feature a stepped design made up of cantilevered sections

The project also involves the Peebles Corporation, McKissack & McKissack, Exact Capital, and Steven Witkoff. Since winning the RIBA Gold Medal in late 2020, Adjaye Associates has had a very busy period, unveiling plans for 101 hospitals, a mud library, and a luxury collaboration with Aston Martin.

Source: Adjaye Associates

View gallery - 4 images
9 comments
9 comments
Ornery Johnson
There has to be more to good architecture than simply to prove that one can indeed build something that looks inherently unstable.
Ornery Johnson
There's also something to be said about recognizing context in architecture. This building will be built only about a a mile from two buildings of about the same height that were knocked down only 20 years ago. PTSD still lives in the minds of many New Yorkers, who would likely never venture inside a building that looks so inherently unstable (even though I'm sure it would be well-engineered).
Chris Coles
Will bet eventual design shows a central spine with the "blocks" equally spaced over the central spine. Design allows the use of a small site at ground level, yet much more floor space than possible with the original ground site area. Way to go!
Thomas Hardy
The structure of a building shaped like this is going to be incredibly expensive. I would guess that the actual motivation to push all the area in the building as high as possible is purely economic rather than the desire for the thing to look inherently unstable. Though, to be clear, it looks amazing and I have no doubt that Adjaye's team can design a great piece of architecture.
You are only allowed to build so much floor area per building. The higher floors likely lease for more money so the more of the floor area you can build higher up, the better the economic return to justify all the extra structure. Similar to those super tall residential towers that pay for the insane slenderness with wrap-around views.
For the past hundred-ish years towers in New York have had to get smaller as they got taller in a 'wedding-cake' style due to zoning rules to keep the streets from being in constant shadow. Looks like they have somehow gotten around those restrictions.
Hasler
I would like to ask how the glazing is to be cleaned on the elevations with a cantilever, but I doubt that window cleaning matters in an architect's vision for a building.
Jesse Robert Allen
Looks like an ideal target for a highjacked plane. Hit it down low and yell timber! I wonder how earthquake or tidal wave resistant this will be? Better New York than California I suppose.
Jinpa
How would it fare in a Cat-5 hurricane? Or the theoretical tsunami? Probability is vanishingly small, but damage could be catastrophic if it occurred. Would you like to be the actuary setting the insurance premium on this building? Shouldn't that analysis be public, for permit-granters and prospective occupants?
GregVoevodsky
Just because you can do it, doesn't mean it should be done like the small but tall super expensive high rise apartments in NY - "The condo board at 432 Park Avenue is suing the developers for construction and design defects that have led to floods, faulty elevators..." I could choose a 100 better designs from around the world that inspire and look safe. This reminds me of the Millennium Tower of Pisa in SF. https://www.sfgate.com/local/article/san-francisco-millennium-tower-sinking-fix-halted-16455606.php
Adrian Akau
Like the Tower of Babel.