Months after officially opening its $3.1 billion supertall skyscraper One Vanderbilt in Midtown Manhattan, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) has released plans for a new building developed by Boston Properties at 343 Madison Avenue. With demolition permits granted earlier this year, a full block of existing pre-war structures between East 44th and 45th Streets, including the former headquarters of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), will be replaced by a 1,050-foot glass tower, slightly taller than the nearby Chrysler Building.
Newly released renderings reveal a relatively conservative design, with stacked rectilinear volumes that recede slightly from the street in accordance with New York City zoning ordinances. Perhaps most distinctively, three load-transfer floors at the base, crown, and middle of the 55-story building open up room for small gardens and gathering spaces. The structure will also provide 7 feet of additional sidewalk width along Madison Avenue, as well as an atrial, enclosed entrance for the Long Island Railroad’s East Side Access transit project.
Boston Properties’ redevelopment of the site sparked familiar contention between the city and state governments, with initial disagreements over how revenue from the MTA’s $1 billion sale of the Equitable Trust Building should be distributed between the two administrations. Plans moved forward in spring 2020 after the de Blasio administration backed down, citing the contribution to the MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Plan.
The new tower at 343 Madison will boast nearly 750,000 square feet of office space as well as small allocations for retail and public transit. If it were complete as of today, the building would rank 10th in New York City for overall height, tying Jean Nouvel’s 2019 skyscraper at 53 West 53rd Street. It is unclear whether Boston Properties will achieve to the same environmental thresholds that KPF aimed for with One Vanderbilt, but the architecture firm has indicated that the design will use energy efficient glazing and high-albedo roofing technology to reduce the structure’s carbon footprint. Lighting will be controlled by motion and vacancy sensors, while HVAC systems will include heat recovery and demand-control ventilation.
The elevated gardens in KPF’s renderings may spark criticism for greenwashing, particularly as traditional glass and steel supertalls face mounting scrutiny for their remarkable inefficiency. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s past criticism of glass towers, however, does not seem to be slowing down the approvals process for 343 Madison. Scaffolding has already been erected for the existing buildings’ incremental demolition and construction is still scheduled to conclude in 2026.