Could Adjaye Associates’ first supertall tower rise in Hudson Yards?

Flip It, Reverse It

Could Adjaye Associates’ first supertall tower rise in Hudson Yards?

The proposed tower at 418 11th Avenue would rise on a 1.2-acre site bounded by West 35th and West 36th Streets. (Adjaye Associates/The Peebles Corporation)

[Editor’s note: After publication of this article, the project team reached out to offer further information. The final height of the proposed tower is 1,663 feet tall, with a roofline that would sit 295 feet above that of the Freedom Tower, or One World Trade. If built as pitched, The Affirmation Tower would be not only the tallest building in New York City but the entire Western Hemisphere. The story has been updated accordingly to reflect this new information.]

A team competing to fill Site K, a vacant full-block plot of land directly across from the Jacob K. Javits Center in Manhattan between West 35th and West 36th Streets, has unveiled a scheme for a tower that, if built, would be Adjaye Associates’, and the Western Hemisphere’s, tallest to date.

First uncovered by Real Estate Weekly on October 13, a team backed by The Peebles Corporation as developer has submitted a response to a request for proposals (RFP) to infill the 1.2-acre site at 418 11th Avenue, part of Related Companies’ Hudson Yards neighborhood. On Thursday, October 14, the proposal was shown before the Empire State Development Corporation, the agency which issued the RFP and will ultimately select the winning project for the site. Residential and commercial developer Exact Capital and Steven Witkoff, founder of the Witkoff Group, are also on the team.

an adjaye associates designed supertall tower on the hudson river
As seen from the Hudson River, compared with the rest of Hudson Yards to the right. (Adjaye Associates/The Peebles Corporation)

If built as The Peebles Corporation team is proposing, Hell’s Kitchen would be the new home to not only the tallest tower in Hudson Yards and all of New York City, narrowly edging out One World Trade Center (on roof height), but the 11th tallest in the world. Adjaye Associates has designed a 1,663-foot-tall skyscraper the team is referring to as The Affirmation Tower, that cantilevers as it rises from a multistory base, flipping the typical massing of the stepped tower upside down. Similar to the firm’s 66-story 130 William in the Financial District, Adjaye Associates has proposed integrating and playing with the traditional arch. Vertical stone bands would wrap the facade of The Affirmation Tower in parallel, with arched tops (or upside-down arches for the bottom) capping each blocky segment.

The motif continues to the base, too—Patch got its hands on additional renderings and they show inverted arches stretching all the way down nearly to ground level. From the images released thus far, it appears a heavily flecked concrete is being pitched, which lends the facade a pixelated effect when viewed from afar.

rendering of an adjaye associates building with inverted arches
The arches (and their flipped counterparts) continue all the way down to the base. When the motif was first employed at 130 William, David Adjaye called it a riff on a classic New York window inspired by the city’s maritime past. (Adjaye Associates/The Peebles Corporation)

While design-wise the tower would be a breath of fresh air for an area heavy with all-glass towers, programmatically it could have a hard time passing muster with Community Board 4. As proposed, the building would contain commercial office space, a theater, two hotels, a skating rink, plenty of outdoor terraces, an observation deck, and a new headquarters for the Mid-Manhattan NAACP branch—but no residential units. While Community Board 4 requested affordable housing be included in any proposal for the site, the state has not made that a requirement.

View of the base from the street with striated stone bands
(Adjaye Associates/The Peebles Corporation)

If The Peebles Corporation gets its way, The Affirmation Tower would be the city’s first majority Black developed, designed, and constructed projects. As Patch points out, the McKissack Group, which has been tapped as the construction firm of choice, is “the oldest minority/women-owned design and construction” firm in the United States.

Looking out between stone columns
A terrace providing views of the river between the facade piers. (Adjaye Associates/The Peebles Corporation)

“This project is emblematic of true equity in development,” said Don Peebles, CEO of the Peebles Corporation, in a statement. “A symbol for all who visit New York, cementing in brick and mortar that New York is serious about economic inclusion.”

The Empire State Development Corporation has not released an estimate for when it will disclose the winning proposal for the site.