Impressions of Via 57 West

One of the buildings that I was most interested in seeing in person during my recent trips to NYC was Via 57 West, the first building in NYC designed by celebrated Danish architect Bjarke Ingels and his firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group). As the name of the building implies, it located on West 57th street. To be specific, 57 West  is located at 625 West 57th Street, which is all the way over on the far West Side, right on the West Side Highway.

The building’s shape is very distinctive and it really stands out from a distance because of it’s size and shape. The building is pyramid shaped and rises 35 stories. You can very clearly see the building from the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. I think the building’s unique design is indeed very impressive, especially at a time when many much more conventional boxy glass lined high rises are popping up all over Manhattan.I hope the this building inspires other daring innovative designs both in and out of New York City.

I think one thing that is less than ideal about West 57 is it’s location. One of the most attractive features of the building is that many units have terraces that are designed to take advantage of spectacular views of Manhattan and the Hudson. I  honestly think a better location for this building would have been Jersey City or Brooklyn or Queens, so it faced the Manhattan skyline, instead of being part of it. Some of the 750 units do face south, so the residents do look out upon Midtown West and lower Manhattan. They also face the Jersey’s Gold Coast, which isn’t a bad view, but it cannot compare to the view that Manhattan would provide from the other side of the Hudson river. If it had been built on East River,  in Queens or Brooklyn,  it also would have had superior views. However, this is also a very high end luxury building and the rents are quite high, with studio’s starting at $3500.00 per moth and some two/three bedroom units going north of 10k per month. The building could probably not command those kind rents in Jersey City or Queens, so in that respect I can understand why the developers would want West 57  right where it is. You have to have a Manhattan address to take advantage of the truly high end of the Manhattan Real Estate market.

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