High Line 519 is the first new residential building completed under New York City’s 2005 West Chelsea rezoning plan that greenlit the transformation of the abandoned elevated rail line on the westside of Manhattan into a park. It is an eleven-story residential condominium on a 25 ft-wide slither lot on W23rd Street.
The defunct railroad trestle that undergirds High Line Park effectively lifts the city sidewalk up two stories, bringing a highly choreographed public thoroughfare into alignment with the third floor of adjacent buildings. The direct interface between public street and private residence typically limited to the first building floor, is now stretched to encompass several lower floors, prompting a rethinking of the W23rd Street building façade.
To leverage the High Line’s new public zone we asked: Could value-adding openings to the outside give each floor-through apartment a distinctive visual address while creating a collective identity for the building as a whole?
The building volume prescribed by the zoning envelope for the 25 ft wide slither lot presented a challenge. Its tall, narrow proportion required a disproportionate percentage of the construction budget to address lateral stability of an eleven story building, and given the relatively small floor plates, design had to be strategic.
Balconies are not permitted to overhang W23rd Street, but New York City regulations allow ‘decorative architectural features’ to project several inches over the street-facing lot line. To avoid encroaching on sellable interior space and the likelihood of losing design features to inevitable value engineering, 4-inches of ‘free space’ was used to create an identity for the building.
A series of perforated stainless steel balustrades skim the W23rd Street façade, linking staggered French doors of each successive apartment. Balustrades are fabricated from hexagonally embossed perforated stainless steel sheets, an economical industrial material typically used to line the drums of washing machines. Optical effects where explored both at the scale of the exterior façade as a whole (refs. 2 and 3), and at the scale of a perforated surface (ref. 4).
New York, USA
systems and materials:
Steel, concrete, glass, stainless steel, composite wood panels
Lindy Roy with Jason Lee, Joon Ho Kim, Erhard An-He Kinzelbach, Adam Rouse, Heidi Werner
Cairnhill Circle Towers, Tahama Street Tower
John Hill, Guide to Contemporary New York City Architecture (New York: W.W. Norton and Company)
Sara Mercer, “ROY completes High Line 519” World Architecture News, (January 8, 2008)
Robert A. M. Stern, David Fishman, Jacob Tilove eds., New York 2020 (New York: Monacelli Press)
Peggy Tully ed., Modern American Housing: High-Rise, Reuse, Infill (New York: Princeton Architectural Press)