Townhouses in the Sky(line)

Today, Santiago Calatrava’s proposal for a new residential tower ( left photo) was approved by the New York City Department of Buildings. The tower, consisting of only 10 townhouses, has always seemed like the building equivalent of a concept car- I want it to be built, but I know it never will. This time, however, it looks like the concept will become a reality. A very expensive, very elite, reality. The New York Post reports that each townhouse will cost $35 Million. It’s going to be exciting to see something new and unconventional in the Manhattan skyline. In the wake of the watered-down WTC plan, I hope the city will take more chances like this.

I couldn’t help but wonder if this project was at all inspired by S.I.T.E’s 1981 unbuilt project, “The Highrise of Homes.” (pictured at right) More neighborhood than penthouse, the Highrise of Homes consists of a structural frame that supports independently constructed suburban-style homes, complete with fence, yard, and neighbors. I’m personally a huge fan of S.I.T.E’s early work, and I’ve met James Wines; he’s a funny, smart guy who believes himself to be one of the most influentital yet under-appreciated architects in the last 50 years. He might be right. I’m sure that somewhere, in the near future, he’ll give a lecture and show these projects side by side, trying to convince the crowd that if not for his “Highrise of Homes,” Calatrava’s project would never exist.

1 reply on “Townhouses in the Sky(line)”

Hey, nice post.

Actually, if you pick up a copy of Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas, you’ll see prints showing that designs like this were the original concept in high rises. The idea was “lot multiplication”, 10 or so suburban plots right on top of one another. But instead, they decided to build the skyscrapers we know today due to cost concerns.

Aaron Lord

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