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The Starchitects Reshaping the Face of NYC Architecture


Bold designs define NYC architecture, but who are the starchitects behind these iconic buildings?

NYC architecture at a glance

If you ask anyone to describe what New York City looks like, most folks probably start by listing iconic buildings. The Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, One World Trade Center, and even the Flatiron Building help define the city’s iconic skyline. These constructions’ distinct designs have left their mark on locals and tourists alike, but many don’t know the stories of the architects behind these works of art.

These star architects, or starchitects for short, have left their mark on NYC for generations. According to About Mechanics, maverick designers started influencing the direction of modern NYC architecture over the course of the 20th century. Some of these individuals, like I.M. Pei, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Frank Gehry have become household names and shaped construction trends that continue today.

Some of this fame stems from housing companies, who love to attach big name starchitects to new building projects as a way to create buzz and find buyers for new constructions. A ton of constructions that have popped up across the five boroughs have a starchitect or three attached to their names, and if you have lived in the city for a considerable amount of time, you may have even unknowingly called one of these buildings home.

If you have started your next home search and want to live in a piece of art created by one of the world’s best architects, it might feel like you have your work cut out for you. Luckily, learning a thing or two about the individuals who currently shape the direction of NYC architecture can help give you an idea of what to look for in your next one-of-a-kind apartment, penthouse, condo, or house.

Starchitects You Should Know

Thomas Heatherwick

A casual stroll through Manhattan gives you a clear view of some of the most impressive NYC architecture around. If you find yourself by Hudson Yards and The High Line, you can see some of the boldest projects led by Thomas Heatherwick. The New York Times reports that Heatherwick made waves by designing the Vessel and has since helped oversee the creation of Lantern House.

This residential unit consists of two towers on both sides of the High Line and contains 181 condominiums. Bulging windows, curved steel beaming, and bold, rounded corners define this architect’s signature style, should you ever run into one of his buildings in the wild.

Robert A.M. Stern

While Heatherwick looks towards the future with his designs, other starchitects take inspiration from the past. Architectural Digest found that Robert A.M. Stern’s construction at 200 East 83rd Street in Manhattan stands in stark contrast to Heatherwick’s latest designs.

Stern draws on previous incarnations of NYC architecture and trends, saying, “We wanted the building to look like it has always been there and a part of the city’s social fabric.” The starchitect relies on ornamental features to further distinguish this iconic addition to the Upper East Side that drew influence from prewar New York, including flowers and geometric patterns as a way to breathe new life into old styles.

Jeanne Gang

Other key architects find a happy middle ground between aesthetic eras when they design their masterpieces. Jeanne Gang helped shape Brooklyn’s skyline with their project at 11 Hoyt. Gang drew attention after designing a new addition to the American Museum of Natural History, and their new building at 11 Hoyt continues their approach to design by featuring avant-garde cascading bay windows. The massive building almost takes up an entire city block and houses a whopping 481 apartment units.

Rogers Stirk

Current trends in Europe have also found their way to NYC architecture. Rogers Stirk Harbours + Partners have found a foothold in New York City thanks to previous projects designing the Guggenheim Helsinki or Paris’ Gare Du Nord. Harbour and his associates set to work creating the construction that sits at No. 33 Park Row.

Like many other starchitect-ural designs, the building features sprawling windows and copper screen fins that firmly make this residential unit stand out. While these constructions have drawn their fair share of praise, a handful of constructions continue to set the gold standard for melding artistry, design, and the coziness associated with the feeling of being home.

The Buildings

565 Broome Soho

If you have always wanted to live in a true piece of art, you can’t go wrong by starting at 565 Broome Soho. 6sqft noted that this luxurious residence marries the best NYC architecture with the decadence you would hope to experience when living in a unit designed by a starchitect. The glass twin towers connected with a bridge support look like few other constructions out there and help define the Meatpacking District.

Architect Renzo Piano, the man responsible for the 2015 redesign of the Whitney Museum of Art, led the design of the building, which defines the Hudson skyline thanks to its large curved glass windows that easily reflect the sun. The building boasts an environmentally-sound design and has so far attracted star residents since it opened in 2019. The founder of Uber even took residence in the construction’s penthouse suite, which features three terraces, a private pool, and even a private elevator.

Potential residents may have to get in line if they want to reserve a unit in the building. The New York Post found that the construction only boasts 115 units in total across 30 stories. When the building opened, one-bedroom units originally hit the market at $2.2 million, while the storied four-bedroom penthouse hit a list price of $42.5 million.

This ode to eco-friendly design and bright spaces quickly made waves in nyc architecture circles, but it isn’t the only building to elicit strong reactions from potential buyers and architects alike.

The Cortland

Some prospective residents may opt to live in an iconic building that draws on classic NYC architecture instead of postmodern designs. According to the building’s website, The Cortland hits the perfect middleground for those who want to live in a starchitect-designed residence but want a more traditional exterior facade.

Robert A. M. Stern firm and Olson Kundig teamed up to create this construction that sits front-and-center in Hudson Yards. The team drew inspiration from the architecture that historically populated West Chelsea, while paying homage to the area’s industrial past.

The building’s interior takes further inspiration from NYC by modeling its amenities after those of a private social club. The sleek lobby features stand out touches like a wheel-operated fireplace and smooth stone surfaces that speak towards the contemporary aesthetics of the architecture team. The building additionally features an exclusive screening room, a play zone for children, and even a game room devoted to VR and traditional video games.

New York Yimby reports that The Cortland has recently finished construction, but like many other big-name projects, might prove difficult to find a free unit in. The 25-story tower features 144 condominium units that range from two to five bedrooms apiece.

Kundig designed the interiors of each unit, meaning that if you do get lucky to find yourself living in this building, you get to live in a true, functional piece of art. This building has started attracting a crowd, but one other iconic new construction continues to turn heads and give The Cortland some much needed competition.

One High Line

If you love the idea of living close to an NYC riverfront in a classic building representative of modern NYC architecture, you can’t go wrong taking a look at One High Line. Any Manhattan resident has watched this building go up for years. Bloomberg reports that the construction was slated to open in late 2019 under the name XI, but hit a financial snag that set the project back a few years. The building process has seen some intense ups and downs since starchitect Bjarke Ingels started working on this twisting glass set of towers that abut The High Line. Financial pressures added up, and HFZ Financial Group, the original firm slated to construct the building, had to sell off the building and associated assets to the Witkoff Group for $900 million after they ran out of funding.

With construction back on track, One High Line currently looks to open its residence in the summer of 2023. Model units should be available to view this year and potential residents can start putting in offers to live in this futuristic addition to Hudson Yards.

According to The Real Deal, the property features 236 condos, 137 hotel rooms, a ton of retail space, and even a public plaza. Residents can expect all of the traditional luxurious accommodations they normally might see at some of the best residential constructions in the city — the towers feature a swimming pool, golf simulator, and a spa complete with a steam room. The property promises to offer a truly unique combination of living styles for locals and tourists alike and has the potential to leave a lasting positive mark on NYC architecture.

How to find a listing in an iconic building

Finding a starchitect-designed dream home in New York City may feel like a pipe dream, but isn’t out of reach. With so many iconic constructions scattered across the city, finding your perfect piece of NYC architecture just takes working with the right team who has the experience necessary to lockdown any residence.

If you can easily see yourself living your best life in a unit designed by a top-name architect, make sure to contact NewDevRev when you start your next home hunt. The team’s inside listings and unparalleled knowledge of the NYC housing market makes them the best option when you want to move into any building designed by a star architect in any borough of New York City.

Contact a NewDevRev real estate expert today!