Exclusive Look Inside the World’s Skinniest Skyscraper
On the famed Billionaire’s Row, SHoP Architects and Studio Sofield have delivered on a long-awaited promise
Despite being the world’s skinniest skyscraper, New York’s newest tower is still shaking up Midtown Manhattan in a big way. Located at 111 West 57th Street, the residential skyscraper cuts straight through the sky with an astounding height-to-width ratio of 24:1. Though some residents moved in last April, the full suite of amenities and additional units were still under construction until now, when JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group announced that the monumental building was finally completed.
The tall, slender tower is surely the first thing passersby will see, but 111 West 57th Street is actually a two-part building: the original landmarked Steinway Hall—a Warren & Wetmore–designed home to Steinway & Sons piano company—and the new high-rise by SHoP Architects, which some also call Steinway Tower. Both house sprawling residences: There are 14 in the landmarked 1925 building and 46 full-floor and duplex residences within the tower.
With the collaborative effort of developers JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group; SHoP Architects designing the exterior; and AD100 architects Studio Sofield taking on the interior architecture, 111 West 57th Street is like a monument for impressive design. In addition to holding the record for skinniest skyscraper, the building is also the second tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere, reaching a whopping 1,428 feet high, including a 300-foot decorative steel crown.
“The completion of 111 West 57th Street is a testament to the design and ingenuity that can only be achieved by collaborating with today’s most extraordinary designers, artisans, construction, and sales teams,” Michael Stern, founder and CEO of JDS Development Group, said in a statement. “Every aspect of this development has been meticulously conceived to achieve a delicate balance that pays homage to the classic skyscrapers of Manhattan’s past while also setting a new standard for the future.”
An appetite for boldness is obvious in New York City—it’s part of what makes the energy and ambition unparalleled in the US metropolis—and it’s a sentiment that is clearly displayed in the city’s architecture. Steinway Tower is no exception in this. From afar, the new building looks almost futuristic, but the architects—both SHoP and Studio Sofield—wanted to reference Manhattan’s prewar Golden Age wherever they could. “I have my romantic memory of old New York,” Sofield tells AD.
On the exterior, each section of the building is paired with a layer of terracotta pilasters that don both the east and west facades of the tower, giving it that glamorous late-19th-century feel without overdoing it. Further, JDS Development Group restored much of the Steinway Hall building originally designed in the 1920s. The facade and instantly recognizable rotunda were restored in collaboration with the Landmarks Preservation Commission of New York, and it will be connected to the new tower by way of a sweeping central lobby.
On the inside, Studio Sofield took inspiration from the original Steinway Hall. For the block-long entry, William Sofield enlisted New York artisans such as John Opella and Nancy Lorenz to create what he describes as “a series of emotional experiences” that are informed by the New York skyscrapers of the past.
“Reuse gives new life to historical fragments,” Sofield adds, explaining that, when possible, he would find ways to reimagine parts of Steinway Hall into the development. For example, the building’s lobby makes use of end-grain wood flooring that was “rescued from the original piano loading docks.” Other old-world details include an ornamental chandelier in the amenity space reproduced from an original design that once hung in Steinway Hall. The residences also take a cue from classic home layouts and feature elements such as formal dining rooms with coved-wall sitting areas, solid oak floors, spacious galleries, and stepped panel doors.
Additionally, the AD100 designer found moments to infuse little easter eggs into the history-making property, should you know where to look. “There are the lilies of the valley, my mom’s favorite flower, with rock crystal bells that sway like my favorite curtains at the Seagram Building,” he says. All of the New York landmark buildings—like The Whitney or Saint Patrick’s—can be seen in bas-relief throughout the property.
While the design may be a tribune to old New York, the amenities are all about modern living. They feature an 82-foot-long two-lane swimming pool surrounded by private cabanas, sauna, steam room, double-height fitness center with its own mezzanine terrace, private dining room, and a chef’s catering kitchen, residents’ lounge boasting an expansive terrace, and a dedicated concierge service. “My world is equal parts legacy and imagination, a place where architecture and opera collide,” Sofield says. “Yes, there are bits of the past, but they are always used in modern ways.”