It’s not yet April 1, but you’d be forgiven for double-checking the date upon viewing architecture studio oiio’s latest concept for Midtown Manhattan. The architects — well-known for designing subversive proposals to stir discourse among the profession and further afield — have presented a super-tall high-rise inspired by New York City’s proliferation of “skinny skyscrapers,” including Rafael Viñoly’s 432 Park Avenue and the under-construction 111 West 57th Street tower by SHoP Architects.
Taking the city’s idiosyncratic zoning laws to their “logical” conclusion, oiio’s design sees two slender residential towers rise up on 57th Street, otherwise known as Billionaire’s Row due to the number of luxury apartment buildings being constructed there. To really stand out from its architectural competitors, though, this outlandish proposal does not terminate in midair like 432 Park Avenue — the two structures meet in the middle, creating an epic arch far above the Manhattan skyline and creating what could well be the “World’s Longest Building.”
It may seem outlandish in the extreme, but oiio posits that it could actually be a sensible route to architectural immortality in a world where records matter and rational design frequently falls by the wayside. “The Big Bend can become a modest architectural solution to the height limitations of Manhattan,” say the architects. “We can now provide our structures with the measurements that will make them stand out without worrying about the limits of the sky.”
In case you were in any doubt about oiio’s intentions in releasing this concept, their final rendering — a surreal shot of an interior at the building’s curving summit — offers some helpful hints. The image is packed full of satirical motifs that speak to the folly of New York’s latest high-rise boom: A suited old man reaches for his top hat, stacks of cash are scattered across a hair-raising glass floor and vastly oversized curtains shield the lonely resident from the glare of the sun.
These metaphors can be interpreted in many ways, just like the skyscraper itself — and no matter how ridiculous this building appears, it will undoubtedly get people talking about architecture and city planning more than most projects in 2017.
All images courtesy oiio