Hopefully, Durst's BIG pyramid will be approved and another very cool tower will rise here.
As long as you didn't text it to anyone, I don't think so. Also, it looks like the site for Durst's Pyramid is very much U/C already. I'll wander over there eventually for shots. That other massive site over there, Gotham West, is also full steam ahead.
Not the best shots but...
The curbed.com site has a good photo set here; particularly for a look at the interiors at Mercedes House.
Last edited by infoshare; September 16th, 2011 at 06:12 PM.
I guess I forgot to post these. The building really looms up close. It has what might be too much mass. The renderings made it look lighter. It's not. The skin actually isn't as bad as it may seem in photos. It reminds me of the paneling on 80 Dekalb, a building I like very much. Oh, and the Mercedes dealership is sick. You should go.
It's much more separated from the big white telecom building to the east than I expected.
Far Above the Showroom
By ROBBIE WHELAN
Mexican modernist Enrique Norten began flexing his muscles on the international stage when he opened his New York office in 2003. Since then he's joined the ranks of the city's up and coming architects with such works as the glassy One York condominium in TriBeCa and Hotel Americano in West Chelsea, which uses materials like old conveyor belts to speak to the neighborhood's industrial past.
And now his design for Mercedes House, a massive residential complex, is taking clear shape over the car company's glitzy new showroom on the west side of midtown Manhattan. As a contribution to the skyline, Mr. Norten has succeeded in building an unconventional, fascinating building.
But as a piece of the urban fabric, integrated into the neighborhood's context, it's hard to say that Mercedes House is just another kid in the neighborhood: This is a building that sticks out like the guy wearing a tuxedo to happy hour.
The project, being developed by David and Jed Walentas' Two Trees Development, is an "80-20" project, with one-fifth of its 864 units priced as subsidized housing. Construction of its first phase finished in the spring, with some 222 renters moving in. The remainder of the building, which includes 162 condominiums and 480 rentals, is expected to be completed next year.
Walking past Mercedes House, what one notices is the building's massive scale. Built on a floor plan that resembles an inverted letter Z, with the longest section of the building rising in a staircase-like series of roof decks, the building has the grandeur of a large institutional building, and sprawls out horizontally like a castle or a terraced garden.
Mr. Norten said in an interview that "contextuality" was important to him and clearly he tried on some levels. The building appears to be carved out of a large, oblong block of material along 53rd Street between 10th and 11th avenues. The first two stories are preserved as retail, maintaining the streetscape around it for passersby.
A model of the project
"We could have ended up building a podium with some smallish towers on top of the podium, which would be a very conventional way of achieving what we wanted," Mr. Norten said. "But just individual objects sitting on a podium: That's not the urban vocabulary we were looking for."
In one way, this approach is refreshing: Mr. Norten chose not to present a design that contributes to New York's vertical arms race, in which builders strive to build the highest, sleekest, glassiest buildings possible. But in another way, the Mercedes House is a rather strange approach to building a structure that fits the character and context of a neighborhood.
The apartment house isn't at all similar to any other building in the area, and its personality overwhelms the block on which it sits. Its appeal, like the cars sold in the Mercedes-Benz dealership on the ground floor, is all in its clanging, metallic, modern style, rather than how well it compliments the area's design.
As a designer of residential buildings in Washington, Miami, Mexico and elsewhere, Mr. Norten has largely eschewed developing a recognizable signature style. For the street-facing facades of the building, he has chosen aluminum panel walls, while the carved-out areas, under the caps of the Z-shape, are behind aluminum and glass curtain walls. To an onlooker peering in, it gives the building the aspect of a piece of rectangular fruit, with two large triangle-shaped bites taken out of it.
"I really don't think this building is about style. It's about creating this dialogue with the very particular conditions and unique opportunities of the city," Mr. Norten said, referring to the southwesterly views of the Hudson River enjoyed by many of the residents living in the middle section of the building.
He also notes that the building, which began construction in 2007, was built with relatively affordable materials, and in stages, in order to make it economically feasible during the recession. "It's very grand, very generous at a time that was not very good for wealth for New York," Mr. Norten said.
But in the end, fashion speaks louder than planning for the Mercedes House. The building's flare drowns out the smaller details that allow the building to interact with its surrounding context.
That means that ultimately, this is a building designed more for renters looking for architectural cool rather than a building meant to be respectful of its neighbors.
What used to overwhelm this block were the AT&T blank faced tower at the east end along Tenth and the brown bricked residential tower across 54th to the north. This new one is massive, but done is a way that's not expected and is a refreshing change from what's being done on many large sites around town (See: anything by Avalon).
I like the design. Nice to have something different for change.
Are they still plan to have a garden on a roof?
I wish they would've used the shaded glass treatment throughout the facade. Those street facing "dorm windows" greatly cheapen the project's look in person. Otherwise, this building rules. It features some of the most unique program mixing in the entire city, and one couldn't ask for better massing on this site, located in a generally lowrise neighborhood, sandwiched between a park to the west and one of New York's worst highrise abominations to the east.
Does anyone know if Mercedes has fully vacated the site near the Lincoln Tunnel? Also, does anyone know if that property has copious air rights like the properties in the Hudson Yards?