The high-rise building The Spiral resembles a ziggurat. Its terraces are hanging gardens

The ziggurat-like skyscraper in New York is an innovative high-rise designed by Danish studio BIG. The Spiral is part of the ever-expanding Hudson Yards on the west side of Manhattan. The building is as tall as 314 metres, making it not much taller than Warsaw’s Varso Tower.

Ziggurat is the term for the sacred architecture of Mesopotamia. Huge temples were built at the time, which shrank in steps on successive terraces – the higher they went, the narrower they became. We see an analogy with this construction in The Spiral skyscraper in New York.

The building’s vast space is dedicated to offices and event spaces. Its unique design means that some of the 66 floors can be combined to create higher ceilings. This makes it possible to achieve a better effect in the interior design. This also makes it possible to move freely between some of the floors. The lobby of the skyscraper is also noteworthy. It is lined with seven different types of metal. In this way, the architects wanted to refer to the industrial past of the Hudson Yards.

The most interesting element, however, are the stepped terraces on each floor. Hanging gardens have been arranged there, giving the building 1.2 square kilometres of green space. The building’s designer, architect Bjarke Ingels, likened this element to a green ribbon stretching across the skyscraper. The plants found on the terraces are resistant to the strong gusts of wind that prevail at these heights. For the most part, these are plants from the American prairie, which are also adapted to life in drought conditions. In addition, the individual plants are laid out in such a way as to provide them with as much sunlight as possible.

The Spiral is another element of the Hudson Yards development designed by architecture studio BIG. In the past decade, the Danes have yet to design a luxury hotel, an apartment building and a state-of-the-art New York Police Station. This is only part of BIG’s major projects in the city. The area surrounding the skyscraper was still built up with warehouses and factories at the beginning of the century. The transformation of Hudson Yards into a cluster of high-rise buildings was the result of rising land prices in the rest of Manhattan.

The American trade press has described Ingels’ projects as redefining Manhattan’s high-rises. One may agree or disagree with this position, but it must be acknowledged that the Danes have completely transformed the architecture of the district. The Spiral combines modern glass facades with sharper elements of 1920s New York architecture, and the ‘skyscraper-ziggurat’ is meant to visually reference the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center. Such combinations may herald new trends in New York skyscraper construction. Perhaps instead of universal, international towers, buildings with a distinctly New York character will begin to emerge? Time will tell.

photos: Laurian Ghinițoiu, BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group


Also read: United States | New York | Skyscraper | Office building | Architecture | whiteMAD on Instagram

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