Gary Barnett Taps Architect of World’s Tallest Tower to Design NYC’s Tallest Apartment Building

Going big: The Trump International in Chicago. (Wikimedia Commons)

Going big: The Trump International in Chicago. (Wikimedia Commons)

There had been rumors that Gary Barnett had tapped Swiss starchitects and downtown darlings Herzog & de Meuron to design his supertall skyscraper at the corner of 57th Street and Broadway, but now The Journal reports that Adrian Smith is the architect for 225 West 57th Street. The bigger surprise, literally, may be that the 1,550-foot height for the Extell tower, which The Observer previously reported, may just be a starting point.

While the precise height could easily change—Mr. Barnett said plans were very preliminary—the developer is clearly gearing up to build one of the tallest towers in the city, and one that would offer sweeping views of Central Park a block to the north.

Of course, any groundbreaking is still quite a ways off and Extell needs to line up crucial construction financing. But Mr. Barnett said: “It’s going to be a tall building.”

This wouldn’t be the first time Mr. Barnett has jacked up the height of one of his buildings. His One57 tower was listed in building permits as reaching 953 feet with 73 stories, but the finished building tops 1,005 feet with 90 stories.

Whether this could produce a 1,600-foot tower (or taller) remains to be seen, but one thing Mr. Barnett previously told The Observer he will not be pursuing is a spire, a common tactic used to push building heights further into the stratosphere, as is the case at 1 World Trade Center. There, the building is 1,368 feet, matching that of its historic predecessor, while a 408-foot mast pushes the building to the symbolic height of 1,776 feet.

On a side note, Mr. Barnett said it was his partner in the project, Nordstroms—which will anchor the bottom six floors of the tower with its first New York City outpost—that suggest Mr. Smith. A former partner at SOM’s Chicago office, the deisnger is best known for the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest tower that reaches some 2,717 feet, more than a mile high. The tower has a spread of apartments on the upper floors that help it lay claim to the world’s tallest apartments, as well.

Another of Mr. Smith’s prominent commissions is the tallest residential tower in Chicago, and this hemisphere, and the city’s second biggest building, the Trump International Hotel and Tower, which reaches 1,389 feet (thanks to spire, of course—the roofline is at 1,170 feet).

And so the fight for the city’s tallest apartment tower continues.

Last year, New York by Gehry surpassed another Trump confection, the World Tower near the U.N., by 16 feet. The Bruce Ratner-built building usurped the crown held for a decade with its rippling metal curves stretching 876 feet into the air. When Mr. Barnett’s One57 opens next year, it will top 1,005, but CIM and Harry Macklowe’s fast-rising 432 Park will be far bigger, in a year or two, even surpassing the Trump Chicago tower, at 1,397 feet, arguably becoming the biggest building in New York. Until Mr. Barnett finishes 225 West 57th Street, of course. Or until something even bigger comes along.