53 West 53rd Street by Jean Nouvel


Architect Jean Nouvel has unveiled his design for a new 75-story tower on a site next to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The tower at 53rd West 53rd Street will contain a hotel, luxury apartments and three floors for use by MoMA to expand its exhibition space.

The restaurant and lounge are below ground level, so that pedestrians can peer in through the exterior, which is entirely sheathed in glass.

The following text is from developer Hines:



Hines, the international real estate firm, announced today the formal selection of Paris-based architect Jean Nouvel as the designer of a new building slated for a key parcel in midtown Manhattan, adjacent to The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The preliminary architectural design was also released.

Nouvel’s bold design will rise 75 stories from the 17,000-square-foot-site between 53rd and 54th streets just west of MoMA. Currently, a mix of uses is contemplated for the building including: a 50,000-square-foot expansion of MoMA’s galleries (levels two to five); a 100-room, seven-star hotel and 120 highest-end residential condominiums on the upper floors. The project will likely commence pre-sales in late 2008.

Nouvel’s design maximizes the site while considering the city’s zoning envelope. The proposed building’s unique silhouette tapers as it rises to a distinctive spire. Its steel and glass façade reveals the diagrid structural design.

Gerald D. Hines, chairman of Hines, commented, “Nouvel’s exciting concept has the potential to become an international architectural design icon.”

The Hines firm has collaborated with Nouvel on both 40 Mercer in New York’s SoHo neighborhood and on the C1 Tower currently under development in Paris.

Jean Nouvel has headed his own architectural practice, Ateliers Jean Nouvel, since 1970. His honors include the Gold Medal of the French Academy of Architecture, the Royal Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Aga Khan Prize, honorary fellowships from the American Institute of Architecture, and France’s National Grand Prize for Architecture. He was awarded Italy’s Borromini Prize and Japan’s Praemium Imperial Career Prize as well as the Wolf Prize, the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in architecture, and the International Highrise Award.

Among Mr. Nouvel’s completed buildings are the Arab World Institute, Paris; Lyon Opera House; Cartier Foundation, Paris; Galeries Lafayette department store, Berlin; Lucerne Culture and Congress Center; Tours Conference Center; The Hotel in Lucerne; Andel office building, Prague; Nantes Justice Center; Dentsu Tower, Tokyo; museum of archaeology, Périgueux; the technology center in Wismar; Agbar office tower, Barcelona; extension to the Queen Sofia museum, Madrid; Quai Branly Museum, Paris; Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis; Brembo’s research and development centre; and the Richemont Corporation headquarters in Geneva.

Hines has been active in New York City since 1981, having developed six major buildings in midtown, including Philip Johnson’s “Lipstick Building” at 885 Third Avenue. In addition to the recently completed 40 Mercer, Hines has three other residential projects underway in New York City including One Jackson Square in Greenwich Village. Hines also acquired three major office buildings in New York since 2003, including I.M. Pei’s 499 Park, and currently manages more than 11.5 million square feet of office space in the area.


Posted by Rose Etherington

Posted on Friday November 16th 2007 at 12:25 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • tommi

    well, at least not d’ dildo type tower again

  • James

    Someone in that office is good with 3ds max. It’s an interesting form against the orthoganal towers of NY, however i worry that it will look very of-its-time in 20 years. Still impressive though.

  • Oh my god, it’s giving me palpatations…

  • charlie

    rise, the tower of capitalism.

    it looks cool though.
    wished the building coped better with the existing environments.

  • So, can we swap the “landmark” Freedom Tower for this one? This one is actually provocative and destined to be a landmark in Manhattan’s skyline… It’s its twin-tower with its two tapers like for the nostalgic-types out there.

  • Nuno

    Holy crap… that dildo remark cracked me up.

    Well, we all must admit that the renderings are awsome, yet I don’t think this building would be a good choice for New York.

  • Beautiful reverse icicles. But, what I ALWAYS ask myself… what is my experience from street level… that place where we’ll all be when we look up to see it? This is the one problem I have with models setting on a table top with all the various executives ooooohing and ahhhing over it. Other than the few who might fly over in a blimp or plane, no one will ever see that (table top) angle again. But, believe me, this is a beautiful ‘object.’ But, what it does, aesthetically, for my personal experience ‘on the street’ is to be determined. However, not for a minute will I diminish this design accomplishment… from ANY angle.

  • INCREDIBLE RENDERS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • gibberish

    Probably rendered by these guys: http://www.arte-factory.com/

  • joe

    like it

  • il.balan

    from renders to reality there is a big jump…

  • his studio is doing well.

  • John

    Not that I think it looks bad, but the form of this building is the zoning envelope for the site. There is no “design” involved.

  • that building looks like the Terminator’s revealed robotic arm. Send it to Dubai.

  • subdivision

    this is so cold…. a typical space for a consumerist society.

  • m

    from the outside in great, from the inside out? not so great. the interior space wrapped in all those slanted columns & criss cross structures left much to be desired..

  • greg.org

    holy smokes, have any of you pseudo-marxist contextualist whiners been to sixth avenue lately to see the fruits of capitalism? a relentless march of maxed out floorplates and FAR, blocks of mind-numbing boxes that differ only in the shade of their granite cladding.

    They make Cesar Pelli’s glazing-color-as-architecture Museum Tower look positively visionary. The point is, with the exception of Saarinen’s CBS tower, the surrounding skyscrapers are crap.

    It’s too early to compare it equally to the Chrysler bldg, but it’s worth noting that that bldg also looks “of its time,” and that’s a strength; and it also makes a powerful contribution to the skyline, to the view of the city from afar, not just from the street level. Nouvel’s design seems like a winner on both these fronts.

  • brad

    I agree with Greg. We shouldn’t fear creating architecture that is a product of its time. Architecture is one of the hallmarks of a culture. Think of Romans with their arches. They weren’t trying to build something that was ageless. They were using the most modern materials (which at the time happened to be stone and the new incarnation of cement) to design a structure that was functional and stable. The arch, thereafter, became one of the most recognizable contributions of the Romans.

    The Chrysler Building, as Greg mentioned, is another great example – done in an art deco style that was a popular style in its time. When you see art deco now, you instantly think of that time period and everything that goes along with it culturally.

    The drive to create architecture that is “timeless” will create a bland, monotonous style with a limited pallette of materials and no conveyance of cultural, regional, or vernacular influences. Architects should avoid this at all cost.

  • b


  • David

    Anything away from the boring 90% that is at the present time in construction in NYC is very very welcome… all the world architectural masters come to NY only to teach at Columbia, and in the meantime they build great examples of new architecture all over the world, this city definitively deserves more than KPF, Fox Fowle, SOM, Costas Kondilys, HOK, etc…. I honestly wish I’m wrong but I doubt New York City critics/developers allow Nouvel to make this late arrival.

  • Jeff

    Very fun. Of course, if no one mentioned it, it’s simply a postmodern riff on Fazlur Khan’s John Hancock building on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, the angled bracing coursing across folks’ offices/homes being the signature of that tower. Great job though.

  • J

    b I agree, the interiors are highly reminiscent of OMA’s CCTV.

  • I would like to hear that they will consider a reasonable amount of renewable technologies in this beautiful tower.

  • Nicanor Wong

    A building for the people who fly. It´s non important the use of the space over the impact of the height and form. Take a look of the insides, the space is the same and it will be used for everything: art gallery, pool, bedroom, office, hall… What are we playing with architecture?

  • togon

    I do not see a single GREEN!! Is this what it’s gonna be when occupied? NO GARDENS? NO GREENERIES in the building?

  • Katie

    “holy smokes, have any of you pseudo-marxist contextualist whiners been to sixth avenue lately to see the fruits of capitalism? a relentless march of maxed out floorplates and FAR, blocks of mind-numbing boxes that differ only in the shade of their granite cladding.”

    Thank you Greg and Brad for verbalizing what I was trying to put into words.

  • Ian

    This building is gorgeous. It captures the best of the old New York gothic skyline while looking forward; great interior spaces too. Let’s bring America back into the fore with bold visions like this.

  • Eman

    It’s spires and angular walls are a fabulous contrast to the surrounding boring blocks, I’d love to live in it. The interior delivers what the exterior promises – an environment to stimulate your imagination and intrigue.

  • Jay Ess

    I’ve never really been that much into architecture. But having more or less stumbled onto this web site, however, I couldn’t help but notice the absolutely mind blowing and truly incredible works of art of architect (‘ART’-itect would be a more fitting term, really) Jean Nouvel! As I said before, I never been that much into architecture. Maybe it’s because there aren’t more architects like Jean Nouvel in the industry! I’m sure more people would have a much greater appreciation for the profession if there were! How could one not if there were more and more of these types of structures around? The man is obviously an engineering, as well as artistic, genius!

  • luciano

    Hmmm…why do I get the deja vu feeling as in John Hancock, Hong Kong Shangai bank, Toyo Ito Todd’s store in Omotesando, Herzog De Meuron’s Beijing stadium, etc.? Beats rip off gherkin dildos I guess, but this international superstar treadmill I guess gets to people eventually.

  • adel Buzali

    Please send me info on the rates for sale, I’m looking for a 1 and 2 Br. Thanks Adel Buzali

  • Truong_Vutu


  • bob

    wow, looks great. the era of space age architecture has come. freedom tower, this , and lot more. the next thing you know, after 20 years, cities around the world would be like this. and there you have it, sci fi movies you see comes true…this is just a start.

  • some guy

    “this is a beautiful ‘object.’ But, what it does, aesthetically, for my personal experience ‘on the street’ is to be determined. ”

    Look, contemporary architects don’t care one bit about the things you’re talking about, and neither do the developers. Architects. Developers. They do the buildings. You, with your street level talk? That’s just the 1980s PoMo argument all over again (which is mostly dead and gone).

  • Cornelia East

    The building will be located in a Preservation Subdistrict where if it wasn’t for a mammouth acquisition of air rights Hines is attempting to get permission to buy from the University Club and the St Thomas Church this building would never exist. They have also not received approval for the variances requested because the zoning as is, does not support this project. The as of right might be 40 stories. It may be a nice building, but not midblock on a street where over half the buildings are low rise and mostly landmarks. The scale is insane. Put it near the West or East Side drives. The traffic on a through street, West 53 Street doesn’t move now during the day. Imagine what will happen with the addition of a 75 story building? Who is going to redo the infrastructure and the water mains that already bread? But Hines won’t care. Their profits, if they can go this high, could be enormous. They are ruining a lovely mostly residential neighborhood as are their partners in crime, MoMA.

  • Wow…now that’s design. That’s architecture!….wonderful to see someone taking a spet to design something unique.

  • jeremy

    just wonderful.
    keep going mister Nouvel. i love it ………………………………………
    master piece.

  • Julien Frenchboy

    is this tower splendid, the panorama is superb, which are the prices of the apartments? does somebody know?

  • Michael

    Stunning slender taper, admirable for if nothing else the natural light it allows to reach the surounding street. What about green spaces though? Nothing can be forward looling without vegitation in the same copious quantities as achieved for light & air.

  • mnyc

    i would like to see one of you whiners on here create something like this. i bet you are sitting in your knock off eames chair getting fat.

  • concernforlackofethics

    I am extremely shocked that the clergy of an institution which proclaims the ‘gospel of grace,’ to sell its soul to such a travesty as this architectural proposal. What in the name of grace, the gospel, the Trinity, or a ministry to the downtrodden, can the church team up with greedy developers and put up an extremely perverse and phallic structure? St. Thomas, which is already so wealthy, is thinking in totally market terms, in which it is virtually selling its soul. As a member of the congregation, I am ex-tremely disappointed with how it is selling its soul — like Judas, for 30 pieces of silver, and Peter, who denied Christ — for lack of trust in the living and resurrected Christ? When will the church be aligned with the economics of Jesus, and truly house the poor — instead of always catering to the rich? The economics of the project are questionable — is that the only way to get ‘free maintenance for a church?’ Also, the architecture — is perverse and phallic. There are no ethics involved in this project, and it should behoove Christ’s teachings regarding ‘selling’ one’s possessions to give to the poor vs. selling one’s air-rights to cater to the rich

  • lackofethics

    As we have already seen our former public official, Elliot Spitzer capitulate himself to the buying of high-class prostitutes, when will architects free themselves from selling out their architectural services — and have the ethics of the ‘Architecture of Love’ which Alberto Perez0-Gomez talks of? When will students as well as practictioners of architec-ture read but also take to heart the issues of ethics, spoken of in Karsten Harrie’s The Ethical Function of Architecture? When will our institutions be purified from developer-greed-syndrome, digital-HIV, and also iconic prostitution? We are really slumming it now — yes, with no ethical function and no ethical points of view, either in the ecclesiastical realm, the political realms, the economic realms, the sociological realms, or the aesthetic realms. Are American values, slumming it these days?

  • MarcoPolo

    “Perverse and Phallic?” Oh, come on!! It’s not like there’s a mushroom tip at the top of the building. I bet the Empire State Building must make you cringe….

    This is a beautiful work of art, inside and out. Considering the first few floors may be an extension to MoMa’s galleries, it should exude a certain artistic flair.

    This is the 21st Century…. let’s move past the mundane boxes of the past and dive into the pool of creativity. I applaud Nouvel and Hines for this masterpiece!!!

  • fw

    awesome – it’s simply gorgeous! it’s about time that nyc stake it’s claim in beautiful modern skyscrapers – again. i think it’ll be as iconic as the chrysler building. modernism in america has finally arrived again – our design consciousness has finally awaken after a long, long slumber. thank you moma!

  • Gabo

    Well, when I saw this brillant building on new york magazine, feel me very proud for the ability how the man dream to create something in later is true. Congratulation Jean Nouvel. I´m waiting when its ready to take photo this beauty. Gabo.

  • Oliver

    A current, modern wonder. Beautiful. Destined to be a landmark. Perhaps the naysayer’s just aren’t ready for a building designed by an international, award-winning architect such as Nouvel.

  • manuel

    Los malos proyectos se suelen presentar con muchísima infografia en donde no se suele ver arquitectura por ningún sitio.