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  #41  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 4:32 PM
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Originally Posted by suburbanite View Post
I can't be the only one who isn't a fan of the recent crop of toothpick supertalls in Midtown Manhattan. I love NYC's skyline because of the aesthetic of this impenetrable wall of skyscraper density. They look so fragile and out of place among the giants of previous generations.
disagree, i'm in favor of anything that helps break up the midtown plateau.

one of my favorite aspects of a good skyline is a lot of height variability, and these new manhattan pencil towers are making the midtown skyline a lot more "pointy" than it used to be.

i think it's a welcome change.

the sky is the limit!
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  #42  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 5:08 PM
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I agree. These towers are bringing back the "city of spires" aesthetic. It hasn't been seen since the '50s.
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  #43  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 5:20 PM
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I dont mind height and variability (within reason). I think I just prefer if the tallest focal points were part of that feeling of sturdiness and solid mass. Billionaires row looks like little weeds sprouting out of the garden, while Sears Tower is an oak tree that stands the test of time.
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  #44  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 6:35 PM
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Not sure how someone can simultaneously be a urbanist and yet opposed to small, irregular building footprints, which are pretty much the secret sauce of urban street level vitality. Small lot sizes preserve historic landscapes and add interest and variety to streetscapes.

Small footprints and narrow lots are great (not that these buildings really do much for street level vitality anyway...), but when extruded to 400m the proportions just look goofy.

And I'll echo the dystopian vibe of the billionaires looming over the city:


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  #45  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 6:48 PM
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Originally Posted by MonkeyRonin View Post
Small footprints and narrow lots are great (not that these buildings really do much for street level vitality anyway...), but when extruded to 400m the proportions just look goofy.

And I'll echo the dystopian vibe of the billionaires looming over the city:



But wasn't that always the case? Isn't that just what New York is?



Back in the day, there were those who found it absurd to see a replica of the Halicarnassus Mausoleum sitting on top of a giant tower built by a dime-store mogul (or whatever).
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  #46  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 6:49 PM
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it is definitely possible to over-unique it.. look at Dubai
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  #47  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 7:10 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
But wasn't that always the case? Isn't that just what New York is?
yep. my feelings exactly.

the difference being that the oligarchs are now casting their disdainful gaze down upon the plebes from their condo towers instead of their office towers.

but that's not really a big difference at all. it's all money and ego, a story as old as time. so what if a few of the minor details have changed?
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  #48  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 7:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
Not sure how someone can simultaneously be a urbanist and yet opposed to small, irregular building footprints, which are pretty much the secret sauce of urban street level vitality. Small lot sizes preserve historic landscapes and add interest and variety to streetscapes.

That said, if you prefer fat, blocky towers, those are more the norm, everywhere, even in Manhattan. Grand Central and Hudson Yards will have the biggest skyline changes in the coming years, and those towers have enormous footprints. There are 3 million square ft. office towers planned and u/c in these areas.
This is a discussion purely on skyline aesthetics, and so I have to take off my urbanist's hat as a result of the dichotomy that can occur between skylines and street-level urban experience. In that perspective, although the current Billionaire's Row towers that are form-fitted into the existing streetscape are preferable to razing a block for such a development, it's unrelated to the aesthetic from afar. If I were talking about my ideal urban planning framework there probably wouldn't be any supertalls, and certainly no mega-block developments or even floorplates over 20,000 SF. As an observer of a skyline from kilometers away however, substantial towers like Metlife, Worldwide plaza, or even Solow do much more for me than pure height in the form of a Steinway.

That being said, I would also debate the point that a small footprint instantly makes a building a better contributor to the urban fabric. A combination of small footprints can be the secret sauce when they create variability in street frontages and uses. I think most of us picture perhaps a grocery store next to a mom-and-pop Italian restaurant, next to an independent tailor who's been there for 60 years. A small lot with frontage dedicated entirely for private access to $5 million+ condos doesn't invoke the same feeling, but maybe that's just me. This argument also seems based on the assumption that if we didn't have these pencil towers, there would be giant podium style developments instead. Does it have to be one or the other?
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Last edited by suburbanite; Sep 19, 2019 at 7:47 PM.
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  #49  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 7:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
yep. my feelings exactly.

the difference being that the oligarchs are now casting their disdainful gaze down upon the plebes from their condo towers instead of their office towers.

but that's not really a big difference at all. it's all money and ego, a story as old as time. so what if a few of the minor details have changed?
Well those office towers also housed numerous people making a wage that let them live in one of the greatest cities in the world. To me the higher office floors with a view don't seem quite as inaccessible for 99% of population as does a $50 million penthouse.

Could be just me again, but I actually prefer a slightly more modern version of the Downtown without such pronounced drop-offs. I get more excited with the crushing feeling of a skyscraper canyon than looking up at a lone tower. Maybe not what New York is though, and 1980-2010 was more an anomaly.
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  #50  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 7:44 PM
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Originally Posted by suburbanite View Post
Could be just me again, but I actually prefer a slightly more modern version of the Downtown without such pronounced drop-offs.
yeah, i won't be getting on board that train. i much prefer a "spikey" skyline over a plateau style one.





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I get more excited with the crushing feeling of a skyscraper canyon than looking up at a lone tower.
these new pencil towers proliferating across midtown are not doing a damn thing to detract from manhattan's unparalleled street canyons.

this isn't an either/or situation.
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  #51  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 7:50 PM
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these new pencil towers proliferating across midtown are not doing a damn thing to detract from manhattan's unparalleled street canyons.

this isn't an either/or situation.
Wasn't implying they did. It was more that if it was a hypothetical choice between a downtown with nice spikes, but large gaps inbetween, or a consistent canyon with smaller (but definitely still need some) height deviations I would probably choose the latter.
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  #52  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 7:53 PM
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^ ok, whatever floats your boat.

i was just pointing out that you can have your cake and eat it too.

you can have manhattan!!!
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  #53  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 7:57 PM
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That's why Manahattan never gets old. Whether you like the current or new aesthetic, it will continually evolve. Maybe in 50 years Billionaire's row will be at tabletop height and the next generation will be arguing whether the 600m towers are too tall and thin!
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  #54  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 8:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
If there's a recession, there will be a temporary pause, but "market reality" says that Billionaires Row is the most expensive stretch of urban real estate on the planet, and that isn't likely to change, so this is likely the very beginning of the superskinny trend, at least along that corridor.

There are roughly a dozen assemblages in the corridor held by major developers. Durst, Solow, Barnett, Vornado, Macklowe, Related (basically the first rank of Manhattan developers) all have assemblages. They aren't spending upwards of a billion on painstakingly complex, decade-long land assemblages for the hell of it.
These super expensive condos are having a lot of trouble. That's actually an understatement. Billionaire's Row is one of the worst performing areas for condo sales in the entire city of New York. They are struggling in what may be the best environment for the very high net worth people that we've seen since before the Great Depression. If there is a recession soon, we might see some of these super high-end condo developers go bankrupt as a result.

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The super-tall One57 tower, completed in 2014 and considered the forerunner of Billionaires’ Row, a once largely commercial corridor around 57th Street in Midtown, remains about 20 percent unsold, with 27 of roughly 132 multimillion-dollar apartments still held by the developer, according to Jonathan J. Miller, the president of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants.

“That’s mind-blowing,” Mr. Miller said, because the building actually began marketing eight years ago, in 2011, and a typical building might sell out in two to three years in a balanced market.

In an analysis of seven luxury towers on and around Billionaires’ Row, including pending sales, almost 40 percent of units remain unsold, Mr. Miller said. Another competitor, Central Park Tower, set to become the tallest and, by some measures, the most expensive residential building in New York, has not released any sales data.

By Mr. Miller’s count, which includes buildings that are still under construction, there are over 9,000 unsold new units in Manhattan. (His estimate includes so-called “shadow inventory,” which developers strategically do not list for sale to hold off for a stronger market.) At the current pace of sales, it would take nine years to sell them — a daunting timeline that could be reduced if sales were to accelerate, but there are few reasons to expect such a surge in the short term, he said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/13/r...-new-york.html
I suspect a lot of the fundamentals behind developers catering to the ultra high-end market in Manhattan was based on shady money from overseas. After the 2016 election, the Obama admin slapped a bunch of sanctions on Russian oligarchs that effectively froze them out of the U.S. financial system, and Russian oligarchs were also a key demo for ultra high-end Manhattan real estate. There was also a lot of increased scrutiny on shady money filtering in from other parts of the world as well. This is probably a big reason why the current president, himself a Manhattan real estate developer, is so eager to roll back Obama era Russian sanctions.
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  #55  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 8:59 PM
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Miami is also like that too. Just any overwhelming amount of "mass production high rise clusters". No supertalls, just huge number of mostly residential 400-800 footers.
for sure, miami has the mass, it just needs to get a lot more "spikey" before it truly enters the skyline big leagues of north america (NYC, chicago , and toronto).

and it has like a dozen supertall proposals on the drawing boards, but so...... much...... waiting......

when?

WHEN?
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  #56  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 9:18 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
But wasn't that always the case? Isn't that just what New York is?
No, those are office buildings not mostly unoccupied monuments to wealth inequality and everything wrong with capitalism in the US. It is jarring, but there are a few gems among the uglies like that shop tower.
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  #57  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 10:33 PM
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This argument also seems based on the assumption that if we didn't have these pencil towers, there would be giant podium style developments instead. Does it have to be one or the other?
Yeah, there are, theoretically, other options. Practically, probably no. Most U.S. highrises are towers on podiums. NYC isn't really a podium town because parking is (generally speaking) forbidden and there are no backsides of buildings (no alleys and buildings are built cheek-by-jowl).

In NYC, you're gonna get a lot-filling building. Building size is strictly a function of floor area ratio. You can't build bigger and no one builds less than the max allowed. So the question is whether you prefer shorter, wider towers, or taller thinner towers. I generally prefer the latter because it preserves street-level vitality and historic buildings. 57th Street still has delis and tiny historic buildings, in part because the new tower footprints are tiny.
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  #58  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
But wasn't that always the case? Isn't that just what New York is?

Back in the day, there were those who found it absurd to see a replica of the Halicarnassus Mausoleum sitting on top of a giant tower built by a dime-store mogul (or whatever).

Sure, building as high as humanly possible on often tight sites is a classic Manhattanism - and the results are certainly an impressive structural feat, to be sure. But you still ultimately need to consider height:width ratio as an aesthetic judgement. And while I actually like skinny towers, there's a point at which they start to look like gawky, weirdly anorexic twigs teetering above the skyline.



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In NYC, you're gonna get a lot-filling building. Building size is strictly a function of floor area ratio. You can't build bigger and no one builds less than the max allowed. So the question is whether you prefer shorter, wider towers, or taller thinner towers. I generally prefer the latter because it preserves street-level vitality and historic buildings. 57th Street still has delis and tiny historic buildings, in part because the new tower footprints are tiny.

The supertalls of West 57th aren't built to that height for economic viability under any usual circumstances though. The cost of construction relative to floorspace is extremely inefficient and is only made viable by being able to market them to the ultra-rich at a premium on the basis of being really, really tall.

Otherwise, if we're talking about more typical infill buildings I agree with you - better to go thin and tall(ish) than short and squat.
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  #59  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
for sure, miami has the mass, it just needs to get a lot more "spikey" before it truly enters the skyline big leagues of north america (NYC, chicago , and toronto).

and it has like a dozen supertall proposals on the drawing boards, but so...... much...... waiting......

when?

WHEN?
Hopefully next decade. Only really need two signature ones.

Couldn’t find a better picture but I honestly think this was the best rendition of NY’s skyline, besides the 1930s. There was balance and girth like I mentioned before.

New York by Stephy, on Flickr
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  #60  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 11:41 PM
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I can't be the only one who isn't a fan of the recent crop of toothpick supertalls in Midtown Manhattan. I love NYC's skyline because of the aesthetic of this impenetrable wall of skyscraper density. They look so fragile and out of place among the giants of previous generations. Not to mention the somewhat dystopian feeling I got when I was recently in Central Park. Like Billionaires Row overseeing the masses from 400m up.
When the first toothpick was erected, I really was not a fan of the appearance and what it did to the existing skyline. However, since there are now 4 toothpicks [with more to come], I really like the new skyline much more than before.
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