Vertical City For New York

By:  | March - 31 - 2020

Editors’ Choice
2019 Skyscraper Competition

Arman Salemi, Laura Clark
United States

This project aims to speculate on the potential future of incentivized zoning in New York City. The proposal is for the tallest building in Manhattan, surpassing the new World Trade Center and the slender towers in midtown. This proposed site for this project is Billionaire’s Row, located in midtown Manhattan – an area known for its extreme wealth. Though New York City is a diverse urban landscape, this area is known for its extreme gentrification, resulting in a neighborhood that is largely commercialized that lacks affordable housing, public space, and a sense of community. The proposal aims to build a Vertical City, one that reflects the diversity of New York City into a single tower.

The resulting tower has bespoke villas for the eight richest men in the world – Bill Gates, Amancio Ortega, Warren Buffet, Carlos Slim, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, and Michael Bloomberg. Each of the villas was designed by a different architect, ranging from Robert AM Stern to Bjarke Ingels, that have been matched with each billionaire. The result is a sky-high display case for the world’s greatest starchitects. We are marketing the next level of luxury – buying air space instead of an apartment. We are aiming to sell air rights to 0.01% – with our new model of real estate you can now “buy the sky.” 

The project proposes the tallest tower in Manhattan by using New York City incentivized zoning. In order to achieve this height, we are including affordable housing and public space. By including 492 units of affordable housing (well over 20% of the units), there is a 20% increase in floor area due to incentive zoning. Additionally, we can add 6 square feet of floor area for every square foot of public space added, as well as buying air rights from the surrounding 70 blocks. Public space is extremely sparse in Midtown. In addition to including it for the height gain, it is necessary to include this type of program in order to give back to the community. The final height of the project would stand at 2,000 feet. Vertical Tower creates a relationship between metropolitan culture and the unique architecture that results in a diversity of forms created by each of the distinct units.

These eight men donated almost 10 billion dollars last year alone. Five out of these eight billionaires have signed onto The Giving Pledge, founded by Gates and Buffet, that promises to donate half of their wealth to philanthropy. In addition to the public space and affordable housing, each of these men also pays for a 1/8 of a charitable project – a new Museum of Science and a laboratory that focuses on disease prevention. The top priority for many of these men is focused on global health and disease prevention. This project will allow the billionaires the opportunity for giving back, while also getting a great view of Manhattan.

Vertical City proposal includes a variety of programs. In addition to the unaffordable housing of the eight billionaires and the inclusion of affordable housing, there is a renewed sense of community being introduced into the Midtown neighborhood through the introduction of public space and a ground-level Museum of Science with a laboratory and a visual gallery.

This project exemplifies the paradoxical idea of beauty and beast within New York City development. On one hand, it is introducing affordable housing and public space in an unaffordable and highly built-up area of Manhattan, but conversely, it is only increasing the wealth in an already heavily gentrified area. All of this is to investigate the potential future of incentivized zoning and how we can create symbiotic relationships in order to reintroduce affordability and a sense of community within New York City, resulting in a city in a tower and a tower in the city.

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