#city planning

Manhattan reinvents itself

Spectacular and controversial in equal measure, the “Hudson Yards” building complex is the largest and most expensive non-public sector development project in US history.

In the west of Manhattan on the Hudson River, a “small” city is being built in the “city of cities”. Up until 2012, the 11-hectare area had only been used for parking decommissioned trains. Now, not far from Penn Station, the spectacular angular, round and oval skyscrapers of the Hudson Yards are growing side by side, towards the heavens. Designed by international star architects such as Sir Norman Foster and New York trio Kohn, Pedersen, Fox, they plan to create fresh new momentum for New York as a whole. Gigantic floors of office space, 4,000 luxury apartments, hotels, a school, over 100 shops and numerous restaurants – all of these will create new working, residential and leisure spaces up until 2025.

Hudson Yards in New York City
A façade becomes a work of art, reflecting the “Vessel” and the “Shed”.

Gigantic beak at 335 metres

The landmark of the new district is a 395-metre tower with the illustrious address 30 Hudson Yards. And one spectacular detail of the skyscraper is already the talk of the town. At the dizzying height of 335 metres, a triangular observation deck juts out like a giant beak into the sky over Manhattan. Measuring 20 metres and already instantly recognizable, the attraction – known as “Edge” – takes up the 100th and 101st floors of the skyscraper. It is the fifth-highest outdoor observation platform in the world – and the first of its kind in New York City. The new attraction for locals and for tourists from all over the world promises an unforgettable view over all of Manhattan as well as western New Jersey and New York state. Provided that they like having a glass floor beneath their feet and are not afraid to look down!

Hudson Yards in New York City
Up until 2012, the 11-hectare area had only been used for parking decommissioned trains. Now, the Hudson Yards skyscrapers are heading for the heavens together.

New York’s staircase

In March 2019 some of the first elements of the new project celebrated their official opening. The shopping centre, home to numerous flagship stores of prestigious brands, several restaurants and a park, is already highly popular. The “Hudson Yards Vessel” by British artist Thomas Heatherwick established itself as a major attraction in next to no time. This 45 metre-high, honeycomb-shaped fusion of building, artwork and monument near the High Line Park is a veritable eye-catcher and stands out effortlessly against the surrounding buildings. “New York’s Staircase”, as the locals like to call it, invites people to take a free stroll at a lofty height, courtesy of artfully combined staircases with a total of 2,500 steps and an escalator.

Hudson Yards Vessel in New York City
The honeycomb-shaped “Hudson Yards Vessel” makes a unique statement as a building and sculpture.

High-tech art temple

It is no secret that New Yorkers love their city and its culture. Small wonder, then, that rich art enthusiasts provided Hudson Yards with a new, architecturally sensational hall.  By the time it opened in April 2019, “The Shed” had eaten up more than $500 million in development and construction costs. Quite expensive as sheds go, but this one provides everything that creative artists and exhibition organizers could ever dream of. Spacious event rooms on a total of eight floors and a telescoping outer shell measuring almost 40 metres. Enough space for up to 3,000 spectators and state-of-the-art stage technology including fibreglass internet. And these are just some of the features. Even though the New York Times somewhat flippantly referred to “The Shed” as an “airplane hangar wrapped in a down comforter”, it can be viewed as an artwork in its own right.

The Shed in New York City
The $500 million “Shed” provides a spectacular stage for theatre, dance, fine art and pop culture alike.

See for yourself

The Hudson Yards project is as controversial as it is striking. Some see it as a vital job engine and a chance to reinvigorate Manhattan following the 9/11 trauma and the economic crisis. Yet others see it as yet another high-profile project with no real benefit for less well-heeled New Yorkers. This difference in opinion is sure to keep the city’s local politicians and press busy for some time to come. Nevertheless, it is relatively inexpensive for visitors to come and see the project for themselves. After all – there is no need to rent an office or buy an apartment there right away.

Text: Tobias Sckaer
Translation: Rosemary Bridger-Lippe
Photos: gettyimages