Transactions - JUNE 8, 2017

Manhattan skyline gets skinnier and skinnier … then curvy

by Andrea Waitrovich

Manhattan keeps growing with taller and taller skyscrapers. But now architects are thinking about shaping the skyline into a different direction.

It’s just an idea but Greek architect Ioannis Oikonomou and his firm Oiio Studio has designed a U-shaped tower called “The Big Bend,” which he claims will be the world’s longest building, totaling approximately 4,000 feet.

The design calls for a super-tall, skinny skyscraper bent in half. It would stretch about 200 feet longer than One World Trade Center, the largest tower in the city.

Renderings show The Big Bend among the luxury apartment towers proposed and under construction on and around West 57th St., just south of Central Park, which has become known as Billionaire’s Row.

Oikonomou has sent the plans to a few companies and is currently seeking investments, according to CNN.

The Big Bend follows a recent trend, the rise of many tall and slender residential skyscrapers in New York City. Eighteen so-called “super-slenders” are under construction in the city.

A 1,001-foot skyscraper is set to rise just a few blocks north of Madison Square Park, at 262 Fifth Ave. in New York’s Nomad District. Israeli developer Five Points Development will develop it. Russian architecture firm Meganom has been brought on to design the supertall, and this will be the firm’s first U.S. project to date.

It will be the neighborhood’s tallest building.

A standout feature of the 54-story tower is the arched observation deck.

Other skinny skyscrapers include SHoP Architects’ 111 West 57th St. and Christian de Portzamparc’s One57, and Jean Nouvel’s 53W53 and Rafael Viñoly’s 432 Park Ave. These buildings have been nicknamed ‘Super-Slenders’ by the Skyscraper Museum due to their extreme base-width-to-height ratios.

Overall New York has been named the most expensive city in the world for construction, according to its annual International Construction Costs Index conducted by Arcadis. San Francisco follows behind New York in cost to build.

Building in New York is 50 percent more expensive than in the average U.S. metro and 20 percent more expensive than in other pricey cities such as Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Real estate availability — or lack thereof — was a key factor driving costs up in the city due to the need for increased controls in other areas, such as optimal storage and staging of materials, the need for skilled and experienced contractors, and the use of modular construction.

Arcadis expects New York City to remain the most expensive city for construction through 2017, with the metro continuing to pump out massive projects and draw international investors.

The average cost of building in the city was $354 per square foot last year, making it the most expensive in the world, according to Turner & Townsend’s 2017 report on international construction.

The New York Building Congress reported that the value of construction starts in New York City had dropped 22 percent from $41.1 billion in 2015 to $32.2 billion in 2016. The decline was the result of an $8 billion year-over-year drop in residential starts. The New York Building Congress projects construction spending will reach $42.1 billion in 2017 and then $42.3 billion in 2018.

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