Gary Barnett’s Biggest Blockbuster Yet: 225 West 57th Street, New York’s First 1,550-Foot Tower

Back in the spring, Mr. Barnett told The Observer he was still working on assembling pieces for the project, with the implication that the goal would be to reclaim the title of New York’s tallest apartment tower. (The Burj Khalifa in Dubai still boasts the world record, with apartments through the tower’s 108th floor.) Previously, it had been speculated that 225 West 57th Street would top out around 1,250 feet, but Mr. Barnett has pushed beyond that to new heights.

“There won’t be a spire or anything like that, the floors will go all the way to the top, or almost to the top, with some mechanicals above,” Mr. Barnett said. “This is not a gimmick.”

On the highest occupiable floor, the 85th, construction documents call for a “residential accessory lounge open to sky.” Apartments will be from the 15th through 84th floors, with no mention of layouts (full-floor, duplex, etc.). The building permits also mention another residential lounge on the 14th floor, and the seventh floor houses a number of amenities for the hotel: a restaurant, salon, gym, lounge and “sky lobby.” The ground floor has separate entrances for the Nordstrom, the hotel and the residences.

One thing that will not be new is the facade along Broadway, the former BF Goodrich building. Because of a deal struck with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2009, the old auto building at 225 West 57th can come down, despite the protests of preservationists, but its sibling at 1780 Broadway must remain. A 1920s red brick building, its 12-story facade must be integrated into whatever Mr. Barnett builds. The building will have T-shaped configuration as a result, with section on Broaway, 57th and 58th streets.

What lucky architect gets to design such a multifaceted project? The Observer had heard that Herzog & de Meuron had beat out the likes of Jean Nouvel, Norman Foster and SHoP, but on that count, Mr. Barnett demured. “I’m not going to confirm or deny that, but I wouldn’t print that if I were you,” he said. The associate architects listed on the construction documents are Adamson Associates, who were the architects of record on all three of Larry Silverstein’s World Trade Center towers, Durst’s One Bryant Park, the Goldman Sachs headquarters and the still unbuilt MoMA Tower by Mr. Nouvel. So whomever the architect is, it must be a pretty high caliber firm.

Still, Mr. Barnett is taking nothing for granted. When The Observer tried to congratulate him on a new project, and the city’s tallest at that, he responded, “Congratulations are only in order when you’ve finished the building and cashed the last check.”

“We’re just working hard and hoping the market stays healthy,” he added.

No doubt when this project is finally finished some years from now, Mr. Barnett will stand atop it, perhaps out on the residential accessory lounge open to the sky and thumping his chest in triumph. King Kong certainly would.