Description of the architects. VIΛ 57 West, designed by BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group for the Durst Organization, introduces a new structure to New York City: Courtscraper.
At West 57th Street, New York, NY, the tall building of 830,995 sq ft combines the density of the American skyscraper with the common space of the European patio, offering 709 residential units with a luxurious garden of 2200 sq ft in the center of the building.
VIΛ occupies nearly a full block at the corner of West 57th Street and West Side Highway. With uninterrupted views of the Hudson River Park and the coast, The Durst Organization commissioned BIG to design a building for the site in the spring of 2010, and construction began in 2011. The 32-story building has hosted residents since May 2016 and construction will be completed this fall. Earlier this year, the Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat Council (CTBUH) named VIΛ the best high-rise building in the Americas as part of its 2016 Tall Buildings Award.
Douglas Durst of The Durst Organization is quoted as saying, “We are very excited about the building, and the activity has exceeded our expectations in terms of speed and rentals. We were always delighted with the building, but even more so now.”
The VIΛ Courtscraper is a hybrid that falls somewhere between the European perimeter block and the traditional American skyscraper. The building culminates at 467 feet in its northeast corner, which maximizes the number of apartments and gently preserves the views of the river adjacent to the Helena Tower. From the west, it looks like a hyperbolic paraboloid or a deformed pyramid. From the east, the Courtscraper appears to be a thin needle.
The shared green space in the center of the block derives from the classic ‘urban oasis’ of Copenhagen. The yard has the exact same proportions as Olmsted Park, only 13,000 times smaller – a Central Park bonsai. In a similar accumulation of natural landscapes, the patio is transformed from a shady forest in the east to a sunny meadow in the west. Designed by the landscape architecture firm Starr Whitehouse, it has 80 newly planted trees and lawns, and 47 species of native plant material.
By keeping three corners of the block at a low elevation and raising the northeast part of the building, the patio opens up views of the Hudson River and brings the sun down from the west deep into the block. While the patio is a private space and a sanctuary for residents, it can be seen from the outside, creating a visual connection to the vegetation of the Hudson River Park.
The building is made up predominantly of residential units of different sizes, with cultural and commercial businesses at street level and on the second floor. The lower levels of VIΛ have a strong relationship with the yard. The lobby is connected directly to the patio via a large staircase, which invites residents to the patio space.
Facilities at VIΛ include lounges and functional spaces, a golf simulator, movie screening room, swimming pool, basketball court, fitness center, poker rooms, and ping pong. Are of these are built around the patio to achieve maximum physical and visual interaction between indoor and outdoor common spaces.
In the upper levels, the apartments are arranged in a fish-like spine design, directing the apartments towards the view of the water. Large terraces are carved into the unusual facade to maximize views and light in the apartments, while ensuring privacy among residents.
The main materials of the apartments are oak floors and cabinets, and white porcelain tiles in the bathrooms.
The building also features an additional eight story sculpture by Stephen Glassman entitled “Flows Two Ways.” Once completed, the commercial space on the ground floor will house services such as a restaurant of the Livanos Restaurant Group, a Landmark Theater, and the first American Kennel Club store in the USA.