56 leonard jenga tower herzog de meuron

Behind the Building: Herzog & de Meuron’s “Jenga Tower”

Discover the iconic new addition to New York’s skyline.

Eric Baldwin Eric Baldwin

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You’ve heard the name; “Jenga Tower”. Part formal balancing act and part tuned envelope, Herzog & de Meuron’s 56 Leonard Street has established itself as a landmark in Tribeca. Built with executive architects Hill West, the tower rises from its Lower Manhattan surroundings with a base reacting to the scale and conditions of the street, while the top undulates to merge with the sky. Designed from the inside out to give identity to each apartment, the tower’s appearance varies greatly depending on individual vantage points.

Its design marked the emergence of New York luxury residential towers. 56 Leonard Street holds a slim profile with incredible views across the city. Built to avoid repetition and anonymity, the project was inspired by local construction methods to create shifting floor slabs with balconies, corners and cantilevers. While a diverse team of contractors, designs and collaborators worked on the tower, the project also brought together a range of manufacturers that made the design vision a reality. The result is an iconic 21st century addition to the New York skyline.

56 Leonard Street Concrete

Manufactured by Sorbara and Collavino

Standing at 831 feet tall, 56 Leonard Street was made with 145 condominiums across the reinforced concrete structure. Built with a range of units, from 6,000 square-foot penthouse apartments to 650 square-foot studios, the building was organized into seven zones. These are read on the exterior through shifts in its structure, where exposed horizontal concrete slabs register the floor-by-floor stacking of the construction process. On the interior, exposed in-situ concrete columns reveal the scale of structural forces working on the interior.

56 Leonard Street 56 Leonard StreetLighting

Manufactured by Maison Lucien Gau and Patrick Nash Design

Lighting was considered through both natural light through slab to slab glazing and refined interior lighting plans. Elegant fixtures highlight exposed concrete slab ceilings that rise between 11 and 19 feet in the units. Custom designed pendant lamps by Herzog & de Meuron were made for all residential kitchens, and were manufactured by Maison Lucien Gau. The firm also custom designed chandeliers for the 6th floor amenity spaces, manufactured by Patrick Nash Design.

56 Leonard Street 56 Leonard StreetWood floors

Manufactured by RQ Floors

The tower’s interiors feature contrasting materials and color palettes between amenity spaces and individual residential units. Upon entry, spaces are clad in lozenge-shaped black granite tiles with a light gray terrazzo floor. Units themselves were made with warm white oak floors. Light-reflective finishes are softly toned and complement the interior with materials like white marble and acid-etched mirrored cabinets.

56 Leonard Street56 Leonard StreetOperable windows

Manufactured by Schüco

Made of stacked glass volumes and a series of project terraces, 56 Leonard Street began with individual rooms, or “pixels” grouped together on a floor-by-floor basis. From the interior, these pixels create a similar experience as a series of large bay-windows. The operable windows in every second or third façade unit — manufactured by Schüco — open up to Tribeca and allow localized ventilation throughout the tower. Owners were also able to choose from a variety of window treatments to control privacy levels.

56 Leonard Street 56 Leonard StreetWindow walls

Manufactured by Enclos

Enclosing a series of “houses in the sky”, the insulated glazing stretches from slab to slab and around the entire perimeter with two different coatings to control glare and heat gain. At the top of the tower, ten large-scale penthouses were designed with expansive balconies and living areas. These large-scale blocks cantilever and shift with window walls by Enclos to capture views and respond to interior floor plans.

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Eric Baldwin Author: Eric Baldwin
Based in New York City, Eric was trained in both architecture and communications. As Director of Communications at Sasaki, he has a background spanning media, academia, and practice. He's deeply committed to trying as many restaurants as possible in NYC.
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