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What the largest real estate development project in the United States looks like

Urban Land Magazine recently published an interesting article on the Hudson Yards project in New York, which is the largest private real estate development project ever undertaken in the United States. Click here for the article. Thanks to my friend Evan Schlecker for passing it along. It’s a good read.

The project is being co-developed by Related out of New York and Oxford Properties out of Toronto, and when it’s all said and done, it’ll be over 17 million square feet of commercial and residential space. It’s a $20 billion development project. 

But beyond just being massive and epic, there are a bunch of other things that make this project unique. You can read about them all in Urban Land, but I’d like to share a few snippets with you all here:

The first is about the project’s placement on top of a rail yard:

In order to make use of a site already occupied by a working rail yard—including more than 30 tracks for the Long Island Rail Road and three train tunnels, with a fourth under construction—most of the development will be built atop two steel-and-concrete platforms. That base, and the buildings on it, will be supported by hundreds of concrete-filled caissons, which will be drilled between the rail lines into the bedrock.

Because the location of the tracks and tunnels limits the placement of caissons, only 38 percent of the site can be used to support buildings.

The second is about the project’s use of technology:

Beyond that, a vast number of sensors embedded in the site’s infrastructure will collect mountains of data on everything from temperature and air quality to pedestrian and vehicle traffic. That information, which will be scrutinized in real time by managers in an effort to fine-tune Hudson Yards’ operation, will also be shared with New York University (NYU) researchers, who will turn Hudson Yards into a laboratory for studying urban life and finding ways to improve its quality.

And the last one is about how it interfaces with the High Line (click here if you don’t know what that is):

Pedersen [of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates] found an intriguing way to address the building’s surroundings. He allowed the High Line—a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the West Side—to penetrate underneath the tower through a 60-foot-long (18.3 m) public passageway, so that the building will interact with the park and its visitors. Inside the building, a dramatic atrium “becomes the terminus of the High Line as it moves from south to north,” he says.

So there are a lot of interesting and exciting things going on with this project. What’s amazing though is how “vertical” this community will be. You have rail lines below grade. Platforms on top. Retail at grade and across multiple levels. And an elevated linear park cutting through the buildings. Not every city can make this work. New York can.

Images: Hudson Yards New York

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