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OMA’s first ground-up project in Manhattan finishes construction

121 East 22nd — which is OMA’s first ground-up project in Manhattan — recently finished up construction at the corner of E 23rd St and Lexington Ave (the site continues through to E 22nd St, where there is basically a 2nd building). I wrote about the project over two years ago, here.

Below is a photo by Laurian Ghinitoiu, via Dezeen, of it completed:

The defining feature is its “prismatic corner”, which, I understand from this interview with David Von Spreckelsen (President of Toll Brothers City Living), was largely an outcome of the site’s restrictive zoning. There was a requirement to have constant street walls. That minimized what could be done architecturally on the project’s main elevations.

The solution is two contextual street walls — the punched windows are designed to match the rhythm of their adjoining buildings — coming together and creating dramatic visual interest only at the point where they intersect. Below is a rolled out elevation from OMA. Note the gradient created by the windows as they converge toward the corner (center in the drawing below).

The other interesting thing about this project is that it reminded me just how different the built form of Manhattan can be compared to Toronto. In the case of 121 East 22nd, the streetwalls rise 150 feet without any stepbacks. There is then a 10 foot stepback before the building rises another 60 feet — similarly without any additional breaks.

I love the grandeur.

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