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Biophilic Skyscraper Completes from High Line to Skyline

Biophilic Skyscraper Completes from High Line to Skyline

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Named the world’s Best Tall Building in its category by The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat at the organization’s annual conference last week, The Spiral visually extends the landscape of the nearby High Line Park up and around The Spiral’s exterior, allowing access to green outdoor terraces from each of the building’s 66 stories.

Developed by Tishman Speyer and built by Turner, The Spiral has officially opened its doors to major companies including Pfizer, Debevoise & Plimpton, Turner Construction and HSBC, among others. Located on West 34th Street between Hudson Boulevard and 10th Avenue, The Spiral neighbors the elevated High Line and Bella Abzug Park on Manhattan’s west side. The commercial high-rise, designed by BIG in collaboration with Adamson Associates and structural engineer WSP Cantor Seinuk, measures 66 stories and 2.8 million square feet, reaching a height of 1,031.5 feet. The Spiral is pursuing LEED Silver certification. The tower is BIG’s first completed supertall, and first completed commercial high-rise in New York.

From street level, the tower draws the eye upwards to the ribbon of greenery that extends the High Line beyond West 34th Street and into the Manhattan skyline. Reminiscent of a conservatory, the tower’s glass panel façade offers passersby a look into the building’s bright and spacious lobby, adorned with artwork by Dutch studio DRIFT and lush foliage, which can be accessed via entrances on both Hudson Boulevard and 10th Avenue.

As a gesture to the building’s surroundings, The Spiral’s lobby incorporates seven different metals to honor the area’s industrial history, with floor panels measured to the exact dimensions of the precast concrete planks spanning the High Line.

The Spiral slowly reduces in volume as it rises, following the zoning envelope of the site. Its stepping language resonates with the design aesthetics of classic Manhattan skyscrapers such as the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center, while its slender proportions and use of modern materials and detailing speak to the design features of contemporary high-rise architecture.

“The Spiral punctuates the northern end of the High Line, and the linear park appears to carry through into the tower, forming an ascending ribbon of lively green spaces, extending the High Line to the skyline. The Spiral combines the classic Ziggurat silhouette of the premodern skyscraper with the slender proportions and efficient layouts of the modern high-rise. Designed for the people who occupy it, The Spiral ensures that every floor of the tower opens up to the outdoors, creating hanging gardens and cascading atria that connect the open floor plates from the ground floor to the summit into a single uninterrupted workspace. The string of terraces wrapping around the building expands the daily life of the tenants to the outside air and light. As the trees and grasses, flowers and vines have taken root over the last two summers, The Spiral is slowly becoming an ascending ribbon of green wrapping around the entire silhouette of the tower – like a 1,000-foot-tall vine at the scale of the city’s skyline.” – Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director, BIG

Cascading landscaped terraces and hanging gardens climb the tower in a spiraling motion to create a unique, continuous green ribbon that wraps around the façade of the building and supplies each office floor with readily accessible terrace space.

With approximately 13,000 square feet of outdoor space, a landscape of The Spiral’s size has never been installed at or above 300 feet elevation in New York City. Most of the plant species on the ground cover are native to the American prairie, making them resistant to high winds and droughts.

As the building rises, a second layer of shrubs and taller bushes that blossom in winter are introduced, and finally, the landscape is crowned with single- and multi-stem trees that flower as early as February, along with vertical trellises with English and Boston ivy that keep their leaves through the winter. The plant palette differs on each side of the building depending on sun orientation and endurance against high-velocity winds.

“The Spiral pioneers a new landscape typology by bringing gardens to a high rise. Its continuous cascade of greenery from one level to another provides office spaces with a new vertical dimension of social and biophilic connectivity. Designed to strengthen collaboration and wellbeing, each terrace hosts plantings specific to the varying daylight, winds and temperatures at every floor of the tower. These gardens will welcome neighboring birds, bees and butterflies to expand New York’s biodiversity to the city skyline.” – Giulia Frittoli, Partner, BIG

As The Spiral ascends, each floor’s accessible terrace offers impressive views over Manhattan, the Hudson River and New Jersey. Select floors offer a double height amenity space and the option to connect adjacent floors via a grand staircase, suggesting an alternative to elevators and encouraging interaction amongst colleagues.


Size: 2,800,000 sq ft

Location: New York, United States

Client: Tishman Speyer

Collaborators: Adamson Associates, Turner Construction, WSP Cantor Seinuk, Cosentini, Langan, Edgett Williams Consulting Group, Thornton Tomasetti, Heintges, Vidaris, Entek Engineering, FMS, Pandiscio, Doyle Partners, Squint Opera, Siteworks, Northern Design, Space Copenhagen, Michaelis Boyd, Studio Drift, Banker Steel, Roger & Sons, Permasteelisa, CMI, Vitrocsa, W+ W, Top Shelf Electric, Otis, National, Bamco, Garcia, Jacobson & Company, Cooper Plastering, Sponzilli, JBB, BIG Landscape, BIG Ideas


Partners-in-Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Daniel Sundlin

Technical Director: Douglass Alligood

Project Leader: Dominyka Voelkle

Team: Adrien Mans, Agla Egilsdottir, Ali Chen, Alvaro Velosa, Andreas Buettner, Andrew Lee, Anton Bashkaev, Armen Menendian, Beat Schenk, Benjamin Caldwell, Bernardo Schuhmacher, Cadence Bayley, Carolien Schippers, Cheyenne Vandevoorde, Christopher David White, Christopher Tron, David Brown, Davide Maggio, Deborah Campbell, Denys Kozak, Dong-Joo Kim, Erin Yook, Florencia Kratsman, Francesca Portesine, Gabriel Jewell-Vitale, Gabriella Den Elzen, Gaurav Sardana, Giulia Frittoli, Haochen Yu, Hung-Kai Liao, Ibrahim Salman, Jack Lipson, Jan Casimir, Jan Leenknegt, Janice Rim, Janie Louise Green, Jennifer Wood, Joshua Burns, Josiah Poland, Juan David Ramirez, Julie Kaufman, Kurt Nieminen, Lisbet Fritze Trentemøller, Lucio Santos, Luke Lu, Mackenzie Keith, Margaret Tyrpa, Maria Eugenia Dominguez, Martynas Norvila, Mateusz Rek, Maureen Rahman, Megan Van Artsdalen, Michael Zhang, Nicholas Potts, Otilia Pupezeanu, Phawin Siripong, Rachel Coulomb, Ruo Wang, Ryan Duval, Sang Ha Jung, Seo Young Shin, Simon Lee, Terrence Chew, Thea Gasseholm, Thomas Christoffersen, Tracy Sodder, Veronica Acosta. Veronica Moretti, Wells Barber, Will Fu, Yaziel Juarbe, Yenhsi Tung, Zoltan David Kalaszi

BIG Landscape: Emily Chen, Giulia Frittoli, Joseph Kuhn, Kathleen Cella, Kelly Neill, Lou Arencibia, Manon Otto, Marcus Wilford, Matteo Gawlak, Matthew Lau, Morgan Mangelsen, Simon David, Tony-Saba Shiber, Varat Limwibul


Feature Image Courtesy of Tommy Agriodimas


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