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Old Posted Jun 12, 2018, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by LMich View Post
I'd asked this before, but still can't tell: Is the facade painted concrete or some kind of panels directly attached to the concrete?

These older pics should give you a better idea...

Jean Nouvel’s Contextual Masterpiece 53W53 Nears Completion in Midtown Manhattan

June 11, 2018
by Paul Keskeys

“It’s an evolution. With such a political project, with so much reaction, you have to adapt the project throughout its life,” says Nouvel, gazing out at the forest of skyscrapers below. At one time, his firm had secured authorization for a tower more than 1,250 feet in height, but this was later lowered by 200 feet. The building was effectively “decapitated” according to Nouvel, who quips that, as a Frenchman, he is all too familiar with such terms. “The building is like a human body,” says the architect. “It has a lot of problems as it grows, so you cannot imagine the future.”

The altered height requirement forced a fundamental rethink of the skyscraper’s design, particularly with regard to its unique exoskeleton, a metal-clad concrete diagrid that lends the building its distinctive appearance. Nouvel worked with engineers to reshape the tower while preserving the essence of the original design. “The diagrid allows all the structure to be on the periphery, emptying the center of the tower,” explains Nouvel, a move that allowed for greater flexibility in the layouts of the luxurious apartments.

“Originally, the diagrid was to be steel, but during the building’s evolution we needed to change it to concrete, so it’s a little thicker,” explains Nouvel, leaning against a structural element that towers overhead at a jaunty angle. This concrete frame stands in contrast to the more regular steel diagrid of the nearby Hearst Tower—it feels more substantial, less skeletal. Its scale suits the surroundings. It is bold, unapologetically performing its structural job while adding an elegant, branchlike quality to the building exterior.

A panoramic view of Central Park stretches away to the north, interrupted only by the pencil-thin form of SHoP Architects’ under-construction condominium at 111 West 57th Street. To the south is an open-air exhibition of iconic New York skyscrapers, stretching from Midtown all the way to the harbor.

This extraordinary backdrop provided ample inspiration for the design. Nouvel describes himself as a contextual architect, a label borne out by a number of his other projects around the globe: The Louvre Abu Dhabi, recently completed on the Persian Gulf, is inspired by a traditional Arabic medina, while its extraordinary domed roof is composed of intricate perforations that echo the lattice screens of local architecture. In Manhattan, the surrounding urban landscape is wildly different but no less important to the architect. “This building cannot exist anywhere else,” asserts Nouvel. “It can only exist in the context of New York.”

The tower was conceived by Nouvel as a landmark not just for the city as a whole, but specifically for MoMA, the beloved cultural institution located “in the belly” of the building. Given the tower’s artistic foundations, it is fitting that the trio of slender volumes that rise above 53rd Street are reminiscent of three brushstrokes—one gold, one silver, and one black—each painted with a single, fluid movement, thinning to a crisp edge against the Manhattan sky. These metallic hues were meticulously chosen by Nouvel’s team to stand out against the homogeneous grays and browns of adjacent towers when viewed from afar, while blending with the surrounding city when seen at close quarters.
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