While YIMBY recently revealed Extell’s Nordstrom Tower, the first glimpse lacked a perspective of the structure’s impact on the broader Midtown skyline. Now, with the help of illustrator Armand Boudreaux, YIMBY has fresh images of the skyscraper’s position on the skyline, including nearby developments like 220 Central Park South, 111 West 57th Street, 432 Park Avenue, and 53 West 53rd Street.
Height is the most obvious commonality among the new projects, and taken individually, the developments are enormous in their own right. Collectively, the towers will redefine the Midtown skyline in a positive way, showcasing New York’s continued dominance as the pre-eminent global city.
Shadows over Central Park have been described as an issue by some, but the battle against height restrictions was lost with the 250-foot-tall Plaza Hotel, which was built back in 1907. Midtown Manhattan is already among the densest places in the world, with over one hundred skyscrapers standing over 500 feet tall, and as the renderings show, the new supertalls will certainly be prominent — but the additional impact on the park of these slender towers will be minimal.
With an existing plateau approximately 800 feet above street level, the new supertalls will add variety to the skyline, harkening back to 1920s Manhattan, which is most certainly a good thing. Midtown’s mesa-like appearance is adequate, but begs for dramatic peaks — which the 57th Street towers will deliver — and those are what ultimately define an iconic vista.
432 Park Avenue is already dwarfing One57 when viewed from Central Park, but the prominence of Midtown’s first residential supertall will fall further once 111 West 57th Street and the Nordstrom Tower surround it on both sides; indeed, the city’s first tower designed for billionaires will soon be relegated to second-class status, in a land where the newest and biggest tend to be most expensive. (Who even remembers CitySpire?)
Finally, the Nordstrom Tower will result in a temporary peak, 1,775 feet above street level. The spire atop Extell’s latest project will become the highest manmade object in Midtown, providing a literal summit point for the skyline’s continued evolution.
The aforementioned buildings will soon result in a new nascent plateau, as 432 Park, 111 West 57th, and Nordstrom Tower will all have roof heights of approximately 1,400 feet above street level. Given the continued boom and New York’s housing crunch, additional supertalls of similar heights are likely, and New York’s future skyline will soon resemble the Manhattan of 100 years ago, albeit on a much larger scale. Additional supertalls will also fill out the skyline at the new plateau, improving the skyline, which is always more than the sum of its parts.
This speaks to the idea of filtering, and how all residential property gradually filters down to lower-income households in the long run, which is why the current boom will eventually benefit New Yorkers of a wider income spectrum — from the mere-millionaires who may eventually live in these apartments, to those in the outer-boroughs and Upper Manhattan who won’t be priced out by those seeking luxury property. The more supertalls that rise, the less their intrinsic value will be; given time, the subdivision of mega-condos seems likely.
Additionally, as supertall technology continues to improve, more mass-market developments like 520 West 41st Street, which if approved would include sizable affordable housing set-asides, are appearing on the horizon. If New York State can cast off its onerous limit on residential FAR, and if local zoning can be modified, Midtown Manhattan could become a more vibrant place where people both live and work, reducing the burden on transportation systems.
The evolution of Manhattan’s skyline is a gradual process, but change over the next decade will be immense — and if less restrictive zoning can be implemented, the benefits of supertall construction will soon extend to New Yorkers of all incomes.
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