It’s impossible to miss Rafael Viñoly’s super-skinny, super-tall 432 Park Avenue, the most prominent addition to the city’s skyline since Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s One World Trade Center. Looming over Midtown (it’s about 150 feet taller than the Empire State Building), the structure has generated a fair amount of criticism of its stark, minimal aesthetic, but there is something to be said for its bold simplicity. “I thought that a building that could be as tall as this one needed to have a well-balanced relationship between form and the actual structure of the building,” Viñoly has said
. He cites Manhattan’s street grid, the sculptures of
, and even a 1905 trash can designed by Austrian architect
as sources of inspiration for the facade. The primarily residential tower has an exposed concrete structural frame, which allows for column-free interiors. At regular intervals throughout its vertiginous 1,396-foot rise, there are open spaces that house the building cores, a necessity for deflecting wind pressure and ensuring the tower’s stability despite its lean physique.
Viñoly is also working on a quieter expansion project for Rockefeller University, which will add two acres to the existing campus by building over the FDR East River Drive to create new laboratories, administrative space, a conference facility, a dining commons, and an outdoor amphitheater. The organic, sprawling nature of this project, which will also see upgrades to the adjoining section of the East River Esplanade, contrasts sharply with the monolith at 432 Park, but this variation follows Viñoly’s focus on each project as a site-specific study. “To me the critical thing in every building is the possibility of changing convention,” he has explained. “We effectively look at every project differently, we don’t believe that you have to be specialized.”