The project is conceived as a stack of individual houses, where each house is unique and identifiable within the overall stack. A careful investigation of local construction methods revealed the possibility of shifting and varying floor-slabs to create corners, cantilevers and balconies – all welcome strategies for providing individual and different conditions in each apartment. At the base of the tower, the stack reacts to the scale and specific local conditions on the street, while the top staggers and undulates to merge with the sky.
In-between, the staggering and variation in the middle-levels is more controlled and subtle, like in a column shaft.To break-up the tendency towards repetition and anonymity in high-rise buildings, 56 Leonard Street was developed from the inside-out. The project began with individual rooms, treating them as “pixels” grouped together on a floor-by-floor basis. These pixels come together to directly inform the volume and to shape the outside of the tower. From the interior the experience of these pixels is like stepping into a series of large bay-windows.
The strategy of ‘pixelating’ rooms also happens in section, creating a large number of terraces and projecting balconies. While careful to avoid directly overlooking a neighbouring apartment, these outdoor spaces provide indirect visual links between people – maybe strangers – who share the building. Aggregated together, these houses-in-the-sky, form a cohesive stack, a vertical neighbourhood, somewhat akin to New York’s specific neighbourhoods with their distinctive mix of proximity and privacy in equal measure.The top of any tower is its most visible element and, in keeping with this, the top of 56 Leonard Street is the most expressive part of the project.
This expressiveness is driven directly by the requirements of the interior, consisting of ten large-scale penthouses with expansive outdoor spaces and spacious living areas. These large program components register on the exterior as large-scale blocks, cantilevering and shifting according to internal configurations and the desire to capture specific views, which ultimately results in the sculptural expression of the top. As a volume, the building has extreme proportions – at the very edge of what is structurally possible – and given its relatively small footprint, is exceptionally tall and slender.
The building also shows its structural ‘bones’ and does not hide the method of its fabrication underneath layers of cladding. The system of staggering, setbacks and pixelation is further animated through operable windows in every second- or third- façade unit. This unusual feature for high-rise buildings also allows occupants to directly control fresh air intake. Together these different strategies produce a building where only five out of the 145 apartments are repeated. Furthermore, no two floor plates are the same, giving those who will live in this project their own unique home characterized by distinct moments of individuality within the overall stack. Source by Herzog & de Meuron.
- Location: New York, USA
- Architect: Herzog & de Meuron
- Partners: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Ascan Mergenthaler (Partner in Charge)
- Project Team: Vladimir Pajkic (Associate), Philip Schmerbeck (Associate, Project Director), Mehmet Noyan (Associate, Project Manager); Mark Loughnan (Associate), Mark Chan, Simon Filler, Sara Jacinto, Jin Tack Lim, Jaroslav Mach, Donald Mak, Hugo Moura, Jeremy Purcell, James Richards, Heeri Song, Zachary Martin Vourlas, Jason Whiteley, Daniela Zimmer
- Client: Izak Senbahar, 56 Leonard LLC, c/o Alexico Group LLC, New York, USA
- Year: 2016
- Photographs: Iwan Baan, Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron