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Responsible Architecture

Greenwich Tower

Location:  New York
Year: 2011
Team: Mihai Brad, Otilia Calin

The city of New York presents a very specific and unique context for life as well as for architecture, something that Rem Koolhaas describes as “the terminal stage of western civilization – the culture of congestion”.

Manhattan’s arguably biggest and most important architectural aspect is its scale. Under such circumstances, almost every building becomes an “object”.

This is the place where towers were born and are thriving. The proposal was aimed at meeting the requirements of the dynamic city life by creating public areas on the ground floors.

Besides, considering economic issues that stand behind every skyscraper in NY City, we came up with a very pragmatic form which combines four major programs (offices, residential areas, hostel, and luxury accommodation).

So, how do you insert a new tower in this vibrant skyline and make it sustainable?

Given the specific nature of the site and the urban restrictions, the base of the tower was designed to fit within the existing parking structure. An elevation from the ground creates a connection between streets, a public plaza, a direct access to the subway, and tower entrances. Connection between the tower and the park was established by covering the highway tunnel, simultaneously creating various green public areas.

The next step was elevating the tower, with its shape and position determined by urban and site limitations, exposure to the sun, and desired perspectives. We kept a basic rectangular shape for the tower from which public spaces are subtracted.

The four of the building’s functions are mixed with public areas (sky plazas, lobbies, gardens). The key concern in positioning these elements is relation to the cardinal points. Therefore, there are no offices on the south side to avoid overheating, while residential areas provide desirable vistas of the shoreline.

Another important element was to equip the building with a number of vertical voids: each one of the four functional areas of the tower is provided with an individual atrium for cooling and ventilation purposes; shafts catch cool breezes from the south and the west and bring fresh air into the building.

The tower is also an energy incubator, as it collects rain water and solar energy, while every floor is equipped with heat recovering systems and atriums which provide ventilation and cooling.

The double façade acts as a buffer both in summer and in winter, further economizing energy expenditure.

Following a solar study, a number of photovoltaic cell patterns were designed and distributed among the façade according to their exposure and purpose. These patterns produce energy and provide shade to overexposed areas of the building simultaneously.

In order to achieve a very flexible floor space, the structure consists of a central core and a structural façade, with sky gardens which can be seen from all over the tower.

Greenwich Tower
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