Urban Shard


(35XV Tower under construction at 15th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues)

A new tower has risen Downtown. This particular building, though not too tall in stature, is making a strong impression on the skyline. It is the City’s newest “shard” building, a shard because it slices and dices its way to the top, like taking a chisel to the clear blue sky. A faceted tower, poking above the lower structures, it’s ability to make a statement relies on the low lying nature of the buildings surrounding.

This particular type of tower is not unique unto the city. It’s shape is usually defined by the various zoning laws in New York which call for certain setbacks to allow for light to reach the streets below. Other shapes are defined by the building’s “cantilevers” over neighboring structures. These cantilevers are allowed by the purchasing of air rights from the neighboring building lots. This phenomenon was recently highlighted in a New York Times  article which detailed the particularities of this construction, and why it has become a viable economic solution for developers.

The fanciness of the condominium aside (and this topic is a very relevant one as more and more of our affordable New York is being pushed to the wayside), the building already acts as a type of urban compass within the dense fabric of The City. It gives the traveller a sense of orientation because of its unique form. The chisel in the sky points North, possibly a nod to the Empire State Building? This is a new urban marker, amongst many, which grounds one’s relationship to their environs and gives a stronger sense of connection amongst the banality of the ever multiplying, and anonymous glass towers rising throughout the metropolis.

Link’s of relatable note:




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