The Power Designers of New York City Are All About Green Spirit

In New York City, where it’s harder to get access to fresh air and residents don’t typically have a sprawling backyard (we’re not all Staten Islanders here!), bringing light, air and plants to the buildings has become more important than ever, and that’s what the top architects and designers are doing in 2017.

Some firms are doing it by adding more terraces to their projects, or green roofs, and then there are others that are changing the game completely. Take ODA New York’s design of 305 East 44th Street, a residential condominium tower that has full-floor gardens weaved in between the apartments. Or FXFOWLE’s design of Circa Central Park, a residential building at the northwest corner of Central Park, which has a curving design on the corner facing the park, so residents can get amazing views of the greenery.

Of course, getting air and light isn’t the only thing that architects have to contend with at their projects. For CetraRuddy’s John Cetra, he is concerned with how the sun affects buildings’ color and texture when the light hits the structure. That’s why he designed The Moinian Group’s rental at 572 11th Avenue with white terra-cotta up to the seventh floor.   

These are the power designers in the city. The projects are different in a lot of ways, but the common thread seemed to be an embrace of green spirit.

Dan Kaplan, Senior Partner

Since Superstorm Sandy caused widespread flooding and power outages in New York City in 2012, architects from the nearly 40-year-old FXFOWLE decided to take precautions with the design of the Statue of Liberty Museum and visitor center on Liberty Island, Dan Kaplan said.

The previous visitor center on the island was demolished, and the new 26,000-square-foot structure will be elevated higher than the former structure to increase resiliency against future storm surges. Meanwhile, FXFOWLE designed the building to blend in with the landscape of the island. It has a green staircase that leads up to a green roof, which doubles as a viewing terrace. It is expected to be completed in 2019.

FXFOWLE also signed on to design The Moinian Group’s 1.8-million-square-foot office building at 3 Hudson Boulevard, which is set to be completed in 2021. The architecture firm added a communal green space inside the building adjacent to the second-floor lobby, as well as what Kaplan calls eight or nine “sky gardens,” which are essentially terraces. And the building will have a green roof, which Kaplan referred to as a “green crown.”

“As New York goes through this growth spurt that we are experiencing and becomes denser we need to temper the increased density with greater access to natural amenities so that we create a healthier and more desirable, sustainable city,” Kaplan said.

And it’s not just the insides of the building that the architecture firm is counting; FXFOWLE’s design of Artemis’ 11-story, 125,000-square-foot condo Circa Central Park at 2040 Frederick Douglass Boulevard is curved around Central Park, exposing residents to views of Manhattan’s crown jewel.

Plus, the 48-unit building features terraces and open spaces “so that the experience of Central Park is laced throughout the building,” Kaplan said.

FXFOWLE is applying a similar concept at One Willoughby Square in Downtown Brooklyn for Forest City Ratner Companies and JEMB Realty. It’s a planned 505,000-square-foot office building that will be constructed over the newly created 50,000-square-foot Willoughby Square Park. The 36-story office building features about 16 balconies, and four pavilions made from the building’s setbacks that overlook the park.

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