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111 West 57th Tops Out: SHoP Architects’ Super-Slender Skyscraper Features Striking Terracotta Façade + Unparalleled Views

NBK Terracotta Joins SHoP Architects + JDS Development at Ceremony Marking Tall Tower’s Completion

By Zoë Zellers

Billionaire’s Row, a premier stretch along Manhattan’s West 57th Street, has a new neighbor: 111 West 57th St. officially topped out this November, and architects, developers, engineers and manufacturers including NBK Terracotta, gathered to celebrate together. Soaring above midtown at 1,428 feet, the super-slender skyscraper boasts a 1:24 height-width ratio, plus magnificent 360-degree views of New York from the foot of Central Park South. JDS Development, along with Property Markets Group and Spruce Capital Partners, tasked SHoP Architects with creating a vision to honor the rich history of the original Beaux Arts-era Steinway Building, while incorporating innovation at every touchpoint, from structural engineering to sleek design flourishes. NBK Terracotta experts worked closely with SHoP to fabricate an eye-catching exterior featuring fluted waves of terracotta that pays homage to Art Deco glamour. During the event this November, a captivating orange sunset drew guests towards panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows, which revealed unparalleled views of the city.

Manhattan’s new skyscraper 111 West 57th St. boasts a façade made of NBK Terracotta with ornamental bronze and glass

111 West 57th St. features a façade made of NBK Terracotta with ornamental bronze and glass

 “At the new residential tower, which is perfectly centered on Central Park, the past and present are stitched together.”

 At the new residential tower, which is perfectly centered on Central Park, the past and present are stitched together. The developers pushed forward the storied piano-maker’s 1925 Steinway Building, which includes a cherub-adorned rotunda from the former performance venue. The new 91-story tower is set back and tapers upward. With this positioning, history and modernity harmoniously co-exist and tell a unique story from the street-level with a design that draws eyes towards the sky. While an elite set will call 111 West 57th St. home (there are 46 apartments, at a going rate of $18 million for a single floor just under 4,500-sq.-ft., and up to $57 million for the 74th floor duplex penthouse that’s over 7,100-sq.-ft.), the average New Yorker or tourist is still invited to the building, which includes 50,000-sq.-ft. of luxury retail space at its base. Studio Sofield outfitted the tower’s plush interior with elegant accents and a rich, polished material palette.

The 111 West 57th St. skyscraper is set to be the tallest building with the smallest “footprint” in the world, measuring only 67’-0.”

“As a prominent new local and regional landmark, it bears a special responsibility to contribute meaningfully and elegantly to the shared skyline.” –SHoP Architects

SHoP believes, “Manhattan’s classic skyscrapers are a powerful combination of optimistic expression and technical invention. 111 West 57th Street updates that heritage for today…. As a prominent new local and regional landmark, it bears a special responsibility to contribute meaningfully and elegantly to the shared skyline. We achieved that goal by carefully shaping the tower’s profile, and by developing an innovative approach to using an authentic material from the golden age of the Manhattan skyscraper: terracotta.”

Altogether, 41,352 pieces of semi-fluted, double-fired, glazed NBK Terracotta were used in the high-profile project.

On the exterior, the architects continued the coupling of history and innovation, turning to terracotta, an ancient material lauded for its durability, resistance to weathering, sustainability and design flexibility. But, SHoP Architects used the material to add true pizzazz to the structure through elaborate detailing, which was ultimately achieved using pioneering technology. Altogether, 41,352 pieces of semi-fluted, double-fired, glazed NBK Terracotta were used in the high-profile project.

Glazed terracotta is arranged in a beautiful pattern as slivers of ornamental glass and bronze, inserted in between the panels, catch the sun and add glimmer to the skyline.

On the east and west sides of the condominium tower, glazed terracotta is arranged in a beautiful pattern as slivers of ornamental glass and bronze, inserted in between the panels, catch the sun and add glimmer to the skyline. Each terracotta panel was individually cast, double-fired and glazed by hand – this extra step is illustrated through the smoothed ends of each piece. The system, which features 26 unique panel variations, was designed using a 3D wave geometry created via a computational script, according to FacadesPlus. NBK’s experts then translated the 3D rendering to engineer the panels in-house.

By the Numbers:

1,428 feet

91 stories

41,352 pieces of terracotta

800 ton tuned mass damper

49,000 cubic yards of concrete

14,000 psi concrete strength

An early model was actually comprised of Styrofoam; later, a terracotta model was constructed and underwent extensive abuse tests to ensure it could withstand heavy wind loads. Each panel measures about 4-ft. by 16-ft., and was delivered to the construction site, lifted by crane, positioned and stacked to create a pattern that allows the fluted panels to play with natural light as the sun’s position changes throughout the day and time of year. The terracotta is attached to a unitized aluminum curtain wall system. A glass curtain wall application with bronze detailing clads the north and south sides, offering visual variation. 

“Terracotta is one of the most beautiful and adaptable materials available to architects today.” –SHoP Architects

“Terracotta is one of the most beautiful and adaptable materials available to architects today,” SHoP states on its website. “For 111 West 57th Street, blocks of sequentially varying profiles were modeled, extruded, glazed, and then stacked into an involuted pattern, like a softly breaking wave, that appears at once novel and familiar. Staggering those elements across the facade creates a distinctive moiré that changes dramatically when seen in different lights or from various distances.”

Take virtual tour inside the residences, designed by Studio Sofield. And, check out the Wave/Cave, another imaginative, geometry-inspired, boundary-pushing collaboration between SHoP Architects and NBK Terracotta created for Interni’s MATERIAL IMMATERIAL exhibit at FuoriMilan.

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Project Info:

Project Title: 111 West 57th St.

Developer: JDS Development Group, Property Markets Group, Spruce Capital Partners

Tower Architecture: SHoP architects

Interior Design: Studio Sofield

Original Architecture (Steinway Hall): Warren & Wetmore

Restoration: Jan Hird Pokorny Associates

MEP Engineer: Jaros, Baum & Bolles

Structural Engineer: WSP Cantor Seinuk

Curtain Wall Consultant: Buro Happold

Civil Engineer: AKRF Engineering, p.c.

Terracotta Facade Manufacturer: NBK Terracotta

Exterior Architectural Product Consultant: Artexture + Inc. 

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