NYC Vertical Neighborhood?
In the highly contested 53 West 53rd Street site in Manhattan, Axis Mundi has revealed an alternatively 'diverse' design for the new Hines Tower, future home to the Museum of Modern Art's planned expansion.
As architect and Axis Mundi founder John Beckmann explains, "Instead of disguising the rich potential of towers that have a mix of uses, we looked for a way to express that diversity." The title of his scheme: Vertical Neighborhood.
With enough facade articulations that would make the stacking-boxes camp jump for joy, the building is intended to be porous and full of irregular vertical fissures to bring in light, breezes, and encourage neighborly socialization.
It also champions flexibility and an "emerging reality for tall buildings as collections of domestic elements: dwellings, neighborhoods, streets." The flexibility is also manifested in the "SmartBlock" ring units that allow for mixed use and many floor plan varieties. Structurally, I am not sure exactly how the malleabilty of these units would work out -- apparently, they can "shift in and out, adding rich texture to the surface" -- does that mean they are reconfigurable for each new resident, as in, a constantly transforming facade?
While Jean Nouvel's existing proposal of a soaring, lustrous spire would most certainly augment the historic (and slightly homogenous) New York skyline, Axis Mundi's vision would probably speak more individualistically to the surrounding neighborhood and its activities at a human scale, while being more reflective of the city's exploding diversity as a whole. MoMA and Hines...what'll the verdict be?