Buildings with sections that seem to hover in the air


Architectural firm FXCollaborative had a similar goal when it designed pretty one, a condo developed by Trinity Place Holdings at 77 Greenwich Street in the Financial District which is nearing completion.

“We didn’t really have a height limit, but there is the practicality of how high you want to build and how big you want to build,” said Matthew Messinger, President and CEO of Trinity Place Holdings. “This building rises to just over 500 feet, but offers extremely competitive and attractive views,” he said. “We didn’t have to build a total toothpick of a building.”

The team achieved their goal by adding a series of modest overhangs totaling 10 feet above the Dickey House monument to the south (which Trinity Place Holdings has restored as part of a new home for the public school 150), as well as by introducing a pleated facade that directs views of the southern tip of Manhattan. “All the views were to the southwest,” said Dan Kaplan, senior partner at FXCollaborative, “to the harbor, to the water, to the battery itself, to the Statue of Liberty”.

Constructing larger floor plates at the top of the building also allowed for more floor space exactly where the developer wanted it to be, in larger, more expensive apartments. “It really made the amenities at the top much better to span the Dickey House,” Kaplan said.

Confined by zoning regulations, architects and developers are using overhangs as a creative way to get all the benefits possible in an increasingly crowded cityscape, even if it involves structural gymnastics.

By making the remaining airspace habitable, cantilevers can help overcome the limitations of a jobsite, making them especially valuable in a city like New York where there is little vacant land left. In most cases, it’s not just about making an architectural statement – it’s about finding a way to build more and more compelling homes.

“What’s really great about New York City planning is that there is a set of rules and everyone kind of finds a way to interpret the rules a little differently,” Mr. Kaplan. “They find their clever way of working within the rules to create the skyline.”

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