All photos courtesy of Iwan Baan.
VIA 57 West, the striking ‘courtscraper’ designed by Bjarke Ingels Group, has been documented in its final state by architectural photographer Iwan Baan. Conceived as a new typology for New York city, the 830,000 square foot highrise combines the density of the american skyscraper with the communal space of the European Courtyard, offering 709 residential units with a garden positioned at the heart of the building.
BIG was commissioned by the Durst Organization to design a building for the site in the spring of 2010, and construction got underway in 2011. Occupying nearly a full city block on the Hudson River, the 32-story building began welcoming residents earlier this year, with construction completing in Fall 2016. The building peaks at a height of 450 feet at its north-east corner, maximising the number of apartments and maximising river views. The building’s volume changes depending on the viewer’s vantage point: from the west, it is a warped pyramid, while from the east, its appears as a slender spire.
The shared green space has been designed as an ‘urban oasis’, derived from a typology popular in Copenhagen. The courtyard has the exact same proportions as New York’s Central Park, just 13,000 times smaller. Designed by landscape architecture firm Starr Whitehouse, the courtyard transforms from a shaded forest in the east, to a sunny meadow in the west, featuring newly planted trees, and 47 species of native plant material.
‘In recent decades, some of the most interesting urban developments have come in the form of nature and public space, reinserting themselves back into the postindustrial pockets, freeing up around the city; the pedestrianization of broadway & times square; the bicycle lanes, the high line and the industrial piers turning into parks,’ explains Bjarke Ingels. ‘Located at the northern tip of the Hudson River Park, VIA continues this process of greenification allowing open space to invade the urban fabric of the manhattan city grid. in an unlikely fusion of what seems to be two mutually exclusive typologies — the courtyard and the skyscraper, the courtscraper is the most recent addition to the Manhattan skyline.’
Upon entering the building, residents are greeted with a spacious lobby, where walls are lined with a jagged brick bond that echoes the configuration of the courtyard balconies. The lower level includes a host of on-site amenities, including a movie screening room, a swimming pool, and an indoor half-basketball court. Above, the scheme includes a range of studio, one, two, three, and four bedroom units, many with private terraces and balconies.
The building also features an eight-story sculpture by artist Stephen Glassman entitled ‘flows two ways’. The work is anchored on the façade of the adjacent Helena Tower. Once completed, the ground floor will host public amenities, including a restaurant and a movie theatre.
The dynamic form of the building carries through to the interiors, with materials and furnishings carefully considered for their resiliency and environmental impact. Each aspect of the design has been planned in order to save water, reduce energy dependence, and promote resident well-being. Floor-to-ceiling windows are comprised of high performance glass, while horizon oak wood flooring extends throughout the project’s interiors. High-spec kitchens are outfitted with pure white caesarstone countertops and backsplashes, and bathrooms are equipped with bespoke fixtures and fittings.