As The Observer suspected, the Durst Organization is working on a residential project for the site it owns on West 57th Street next to the West Side Highway. What we never could have fathomed is that the project had been hiding in plain site–as part of a Web comic.
Curbed found this unusual piece of Web ephemera, part of a feature on Bjarke Ingels–of arch-o-lantern fame–and his firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) coming to America in a recent issue of Fast Company. Jordan Barowitz, Durst’s spokesman, confirmed the partnership, albeit a tentative one with no specific designs. “We are working with BIG to explore the development of 80/20 residential building on West 57th Street.” That would be an 80/20 mixed-income building, with 20 percent of the units set aside at below market rates in exchange for tax credits.
Whether the building ultimately looks like the unusual, green-roofed triangle featured in the comic book is hard to say. Now is not exactly the best time for cutting-edge architecture, given its relative expense. That said, the Dursts have long been patrons of good design, hiring the likes of Emery Roth & Sons for 1155 Avenue of the Americas, Fox & Fowle for 4 Times Square and FX Fowle (a successor firm) for the neighboring Helena, which ia also an 80/20 apartment project. And One Bryant Park, designed by Cook + Fox, has about the most unusual profile of any office tower since the Chrysler Building was completed, so these guys are not afraid of unusual geometries.
The real news is for Bjarke Ingels, though. At only 36, this Rem Koolhaas acolyte has been making waves in his native Scandinavia (he is Danish), and while he has done a number of commissions in places like Shanghai and Kazahkstan, a major project in New York would be the thing to truly catapult him into that rarefied territory of the starchitects. Until now, Bjarke Ingels is arguably best known for his whimsical monograph, Yes Is More, which was written in comic book form and served as the inspiration for the Fast Company comic. (For more on Ingels, see the TED talk he gave last year below.)
As if this story weren’t reason enough to read the comic, see if you can’t spot the cartoon rendition of City Planning Commish Amanda Burden while clicking through its digital pages.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article mistated the designer of 4 Times Square as Renzo Piano and the nationality of Bjarke Ingels as Dutch.
mchaban [at] observer.com | @mc_nyo