Adapting obsolescence an ephemeral tower by Ahmed Helal

Adapting obsolescence

This proposal is an example of adaptive reuse design, changing landmarked office skyscrapers like the AT&T Building by Philip Johnson, currently known as 550 Madison, to residential spaces that priorities tenants and the local community, offering an accessible well-rounded live, work, and play lifestyle through the design and programming of homes and public spaces.

Concept Generation

  • Existing condition of 550 Madison
  • Adding depth to the intentionally flat facade by pushing the frame inwards to create outdoor terrace spaces for the residential program
  • Introducing a public realm to the building through proposing 3 different conditions of public space: retail, activity oriented, and observation
  • Liberating the building from its’ PoMo crown by opening it up for the possibility of future development on top
  • Envisioning a new tower rising on top of 550 Madison, addressing housing and public space crisis in NYC, and transforming the building image to become relevant to the present day. Proposed circulation diagram.

Residential Program
In the residential tower, the apartments are designed to connect tenants while bringing life into the building by having dedicated terrace space and residential amenities cores. The amenities increase social interaction between the residents, sharing fitness centers, communal workspaces, and recreational rooms.

This proposal accommodates a variety of housing types. The residential units vary from individual studios to 1-, 2-, or 3-bedroom apartments. In the public realm, the proposal offers three accessible ways of engaging the neighborhood into the building. First is a commercial node, where neighborhood locals can start on the ground floor to shop seasonal goods and have their own business operating in the space.

Second is an activity oriented, open air space, where people can access the 26th floor to play basketball and enjoy the playground in the middle of cityscape. Third is an observatory deck, where pedestrians can reach the top of the original tower (the penthouse previously) to admire the midtown skyline while having a park-like experience, mingling between hard and soft seating areas. Source and images Courtesy of Ahmed Helal.

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