Historians believe that the pyramids were built as tombs for Pharaohs and their consorts. In the case of the West 57th pyramid-like residential tower however, the only Pharaoh in sight is Bjarke Ingels. BIG, as he is often referred to, is the Danish architect venerated for his “pragmatic utopian architecture.” He stands behind design that is both playful and practical, and he has chosen to develop his first utopia this side of the pond in our own backyard.
Although mum(my) has been the word surrounding designs for his new tower, they were “unshrouded” this past week. Mr. Ingels is gearing up for the project, as is evidenced by his move to New York and the opening of his office. This 600-unit apartment complex, to be situated on West 57th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues, is being described as a “hybrid between the European perimeter block and a traditional Manhattan high-rise”.
Although Mr. Ingels will require neither the 15,000 person workforce nor the 2 million stone block stockpile of Giza, his “Great Pyramid” will too be a tremendous sight in the Big Apple skyline. Depending on where one stands, the form of the building changes. From the West Side Highway W57 indeed resembles a towering pyramid; from West 58th however, a gleaming glass spire. The building appears to be a pyramid from the side but is in actuality more like a diagonally sliced block.
Peer through the glass spire though, for more than mere aesthetics contribute to its dynamism; W57 stands to be one of the most beautiful and efficient residential buildings of late. Each apartment will have a balcony, many of which will boast of unobstructed panoramic views of the Hudson River. Developers are also aiming for Gold LEED certification, achieved by energy efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction and improved indoor environmental quality.
In all seriousness, building something in New York City that is beautiful, efficient, pragmatic and utopian may trump The Pyramid of Giza as the true remaining wonder of the world.