99 Washington Street, the world’s tallest Holiday Inn, continues to stand naked, awaiting its probably horrifying facade. Designed by Gene Kaufman, the 50-story tower has an extremely slender profile, and it will certainly outshine its dimensions if the cladding comes close to resembling the zebra-striped monstrosity depicted in the renderings.
The tower began construction early last year, and has been topped-out since February – the continued lack of cladding is odd, and the only project that compares in terms of delay is Solow’s new residential tower at 420 East 61st Street, Two Sutton Place North.
Though 99 Washington is certainly the most prominent of Kaufman’s latest work, the bulk of his projects are in Midtown. There, they do not protrude into the skyline – though even 99 Washington is practically a mid-rise, by Manhattan standards – and instead do their damage through raw numbers. The preponderance of Kaufman’s work is beginning to transform entire blocks of Chelsea and the Garment District, blazing a path of gaping setbacks and overtly offensive designs through historic, pre-war neighborhoods – at least 99 Washington makes a pretense of maintaining New York’s urban fabric at the pedestrian scale.