In a city as diverse as New York—where over 300 languages are spoken amongst countless cultures and nationalities—it’s puzzling to find skyscrapers formatted in cookie-cutter, one-style-fits-all fashion. This proposal presents a radically different conceptual alternative. Taking inspiration from randomly piled Brazilian favelas and Italian hill towns, the design offers a more accommodating flexibility for individual expression. Unit modules of 800 to 2,000 square feet, called “SmartBlocks,” are assembled like pieces in a three-dimensional vertical puzzle around two cores that run the full height of double towers. Each SmartBlock has a different exterior treatment based on a handful of iconic architectural styles, giving the irregularly stacked façade the appearance of a crazy-quilt vertical neighborhood. This alternative reframes the conversation around building tall while reflecting the heterogeneous reality of a great city. It represents a dynamic urbanism of difference, more visually alive than the glass-and-steel monotony of most city towers.

Height: approx. 600 ft.
Floors: 50 above, 2 below
Building Footprint: 17,000 sq. ft.
MoMA Expansion Galleries: 32,500 sq. ft.
Design Team: John Beckmann, CarloMaria Ciampoli, James Coleman (LAN), Nick Messerlian, Pauline Marie d’Avigneau, and Taina Pichon
Parametric Modeling: CarloMaria Ciampoli, James Coleman (LAN)
Renderings: Orchid 3D
Illustration: Michael Wartella
© Axis Mundi Design LLC