Studio Gang Architects has unveiled an unusual scheme for a 213-ft (65-meter) tower to be be built directly next to New York's High Line, the elevated park converted from a former rail line. Studio Gang's Solar Carve Tower is named for its unusual tapered design which shaves away corners of an otherwise cuboid tower form. The shape is designed to minimize the tower as an obstruction to direct sunlight en route to the High Line.
Currently the site of meatpacking facilities on the corner of 14th Street and 10th Avenue, the proposed location for Solar Carve Tower stands directly to the west of the High Line, near the bank of the Hudson River. This makes the High Line particularly sensitive to new construction in that location, where new buildings are likely to block late, low sun from the west where, thanks to the presence of the river, there's otherwise plenty of sky.
Clearly Jeanne Gang's Chicago studio has done extensive computer analysis to understand the shadow cast by the tower, which will depend both upon time of day and time of year. The result is that the building has, in a figurative sense, been chiseled away by theoretical paths of sunlight. Studio Gang describes the final form as having a "gem-like facade" which, at least according to the computer renderings, does appear to have a faceted quality where the missing corners make way for angled faces.
Studio Gang points out that the presence of the High Line within city blocks rather than in the street means that it is not protected by the zoning regulations devised to protect the rights of street users to light and fresh air.
The architect describes Solar Carve Tower as "a skyscraper that enhances the public life of the city in ways that a stand-alone icon cannot." What's refreshing about the scheme is its emphasis on the building's neighbors as much as (in fact, at this stage, more than) its owners and occupiers. Where so many "iconic" skyscrapers are designed to be imposing, this is a building that is designed not to be … at least so far as light is concerned.
It's hoped that Solar Carve Tower could be completed before the end of 2015.