Kriston Capps is a staff writer for CityLab covering housing, architecture, and politics. He previously worked as a senior editor for Architect magazine.
A new Bjarke Ingels design for 2 World Trade Center rounds out the complex with hard edges that still blend in.
Bjarke Ingels, the Danish architect behind the emerging pyramid on W. 57th Street in Manhattan and numerous other sci-fi buildings around the world, released the designs for 2 World Trade Center today. It’s the fourth and final piece of the World Trade Center suite, a swap for the tower originally designed by Foster+Partners.
The new design—which architects at Bjarke Ingels Group labeled “Project Gotham,” Ingels tells Wired—is the latest proof that Manhattan has gone square. Whereas 1 World Trade, as well as the prior design for 2 WTC by Norman Foster, featured sharp angles and sleek surfaces, the BIG tower is a stack of blocky volumes. One that threatens to outshine the Freedom Tower.
BIG’s signature stacked-volume design progresses from largest (near the building’s podium) to smallest (at the top). Thanks to the offset stack, the building appears to have a different shape depending on the viewer’s vantage point. From one angle, the building looks like a staircase. From another, the stair-step pattern seems to run in the other direction. The building will be the headquarters for 21st Century Fox and News Corp, and Ingels worked with James Murdoch, son of Rupert, to envision the new project, according to Wired.
BIG’s new project isn’t the first to adopt block-like units in the pursuit of a great statement. And not the first tower design to surpass 1 World Trade Center, either. The matchstick design of 432 Park Avenue, which appears to be made of hundreds of tiny cubes, is already an architectural icon. Whoever is designing these modular-looking projects at Rafael Viñoly Projects is helping to build a new design vocabulary for early 21st-century Manhattan—crisp yet playful, severe but not serious about it.