My recent posts at World-Architects


Sunday, September 14, 2008


According to their web page:
OMA’s first building in New York City, 23 East 22nd Street aims to provide an intuitive resolution to the challenge of creating a luxury residential tower in a culture of congestion. The building’s external form and internal organization are a deliberate reaction to its immediate context. Located just off Madison Square Park, on a site just 33 feet wide, the building is the final phase of Slazer Enterprises One Madison Park development, which also includes a 60-story tower on 23rd Street [designed by Cetra/Ruddy], currently under construction.
One Madison Park is in the foreground, with OMA's project leaning behind it:

[23 E. 22nd St. rendering looking south | image source]

Rem Koolhaas's now classic 1978 book Delirious New York billed itself as "a blueprint for a 'Culture of Congestion'," with Manhattan as a paradigm for the exploitation of congestion. His appreciation and embrace of the city's practical and fantastical constructions -- from Rockefeller Center and the Downtown Athletic Club in Manhattan proper to Coney Island and the 1939 World's Fair in the "outer boroughs" -- makes his and his office's first Manhattan building -- a 24-story residential building with units ranging from $7-50 million -- a big deal. Adding to the excitement/anticipation is the fact that Koolhaas has recently turned his attention to the East, and China in particular, away from the West and places like New York, most evident by his decision not to enter the World Trade Center Site Design Competition in 2002.

[23 E. 22nd St. rendering looking north | image source]

The attention Koolhaas gives in his book to the skyscraper, especially the responses to zoning envelopes in Manhattan and the potential of vertically-stacked floors, points to the preliminary design he and his office have generated for the site one block from Madison Square Park, close to the celebrated Flatiron Building on 23rd and Broadway. Like a vertically mirrored and rotated version of itself, the building steps as it rise, both from its base in an urban-scaled canteliver over its neighbor and towards its top in a more traditional manner. The latter recalls the numerous stepped facades of buildings that predate the city's 1961 zoning resolution which allowed plazas in lieu of setback floors; the former, on the other hand, is a novel expression in a city of numerous tall buildings, a move justified as a response to its older Slazer sibling, so as not to impede their views to the south but striving to capture views for itself to the north, towards the park. In profile the building recalls the slinking, post-coitus Chyrsler Building as envisioned by Madelon Vriesendorp in Apres l'Amour, a striking image found in Koolhaas's book.

[23 E. 22nd St. rendering | image source]

The vertical layering of the skyscraper, espoused by Koolhaas in his analysis of the Downtown Athletic Club from 1931, is celebrated in the rendering below for a pool visible from the floor below. The potential for locating a pool over what looks like a residence, or for that matter locating any use over any other use, is exploited in this project in the Creative Artist Agency Screen Room on the lower floors, paralleling the stepped canteliver of the floors above. The vertical striations are also evident in the different floor-to-floor heights, taller in the lower and higher floors, as a way to offset the smaller floorplates but also justified structurally (the exterior walls are structural shear walls, with smaller openings in the areas of greater stress).

[23 E. 22nd St. rendering | image source]

At first glance the building is merely a diagram, but an exciting diagram nevertheless. It will naturally evolve as it moves through the Department of Buildings and then is forced to become a building, not just pretty pictures and verbal justifications.


  1. Why is everyone calling this OMA's 1st Manhattan building? What about the Prada store in Soho? Or the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in Chelsea? Did the split with REX somehow give them carte blanche?

  2. because its a a free standing "building". Prada store was interior as well as Maupin.


Comments are moderated for spam.