At 82, architect Álvaro Siza is getting his chance to build in NYC

At 82, architect Álvaro Siza is getting his chance to build in NYC
View of the New York Skyline. Courtesy Flickr Commons.
Must see  -   Architecture

New York is known for its impressive skyline boasting buildings by architects that have contributed significantly to the field. Now, the city is getting yet another high-rise condo building by one of the world’s celebrated architects: Álvaro Siza. Now 86, Siza’s contribution won’t include fantastical elements or unusual features, instead, his design will get to the core of his sleek principles, which some have called purist.

Consisting of Perla Bianca limestone and glass, Siza’s structure will break away from the skyline with its minimalistic take on a high-rise, which responded to the elements and areas around it. With 37-stories rising 450-foot above the city below, the building will feature large windows at the corner allowing for great views of the Hudson River and Central Park. The gridded structure will climb upwards to feature Siza’s take on the iconic crowns found on some of New York’s most known buildings.

‘I didn’t expect to have the opportunity to build in Manhattan,’ Siza told The New York Times. ‘Now, at my age, I thought I had lost the opportunity. I was very happy to be invited and thought, “Well, let’s see if I still have energy for this project.”’ Known for his modernist style, Siza won the 1992 Pritzker Architecture Prize, but has more or less kept to himself. Over the years, he has worked in his Porto studio but he first fell in love with New York in 1962. On his first trip to the city, Siza was captivated by the city’s architecture. ‘It was a constant surprise,’ Siza said. ‘It was so interesting, the imagination at the edges of the buildings: the floor and the sky.’ That was also when Siza became familiar with the crowns, like that on the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building, that set them apart from others on the city’s skyline and inspired his most recent work.

Siza’s building is going up at 611 West 56th Street and has been commissioned by Sumaida and Khurana, the development companies that pegged Siza for the project. ‘We’ve always admired Álvaro Siza’s work,’ said Saif Sumaida, one of the founding partners for Sumaida and Khurana, ‘He’s one of the masters.’ The site is flanked by a number of large-scale rental buildings so Sumaida and Khurana thought Siza’s work would seamlessly fit into the area while standing out for all the right reasons. Sumaida continued saying that Siza’s work ‘focused on certain elemental components of the building, rather than going for a lot of glitz. He really focused on proportions, the detailing of windows, and the detailing of stone.’

To compliment the building, Gabellini Sheppard Associates are responsible for the interior, which will feature a warm pared-down aesthetic. Kimberly Sheppard, one of the firm’s partners, says that the lobby will ‘takes cues from how we see Siza and his focus on volumetric and planar design.’

The building will feature around 80 flats, which are expected to go up for sale in September with one-bedrooms starting at $1.26 million going up to a cool $11 million for a full-floor, four-bedroom flat. The penthouse will boast a private terrace at the notch on the crown of the building but if you’re interested in purchasing that flat, you’ll have to wait because they have yet to announce the going rate for it.