Foster + Partners’ 50 Hudson Yards opens as a plus-sized emblem of New York’s “office resurgence”

If You Build It Will They Come?

Foster + Partners’ 50 Hudson Yards opens as a plus-sized emblem of New York’s “office resurgence”

Lobby view of 50 Hudson Yards with sculptures by Frank Stella. (Francis Dzikowski/Otto for Hudson Yards)

Six years after a drive-through–equipped McDonald’s (an exceedingly rare bird in Manhattan) was razed at the corner of 10th Avenue and 34th Street, its replacement is now complete: a swanky, Foster + Partners–designed glass office tower that’s supertall-qualifying height squeaks in just past the 1,000-foot mark. With its snazzy, large-scale lobby art courtesy of Frank Stella and eyebrow-raising luxury amenities like a private porte-cochère, the 3 million-square-foot 50 Hudson Yards is the largest commercial office building completed at the rail yard–topping Manhattan megadevelopment. Encompassing a full city block, the 58-story tower also ranks as the fourth largest office tower in New York City by leasable square feet.

While very much part of Hudson Yards, the new office tower, which broke ground in 2018 and was completed on schedule, is one of two major structures realized in the first phase of the development not to be constructed on a platform hoisted above the West Side Yard. Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) and Roche-Dinkeloo’s neighboring 55 Hudson Yards, another sleek office tower completed in 2019, is the other. The two buildings straddle Hudson Park and Boulevard on northern end of the nascent neighborhood on Midtown’s far-western fringes.

exterior view of a glass-clad supertall tower
(© Nigel Young / Foster + Partners)

Given its status as a Very Large Office Building, 50 Hudson Yards is being touted by primary developers Related Companies and Oxford Properties (like with 55 Hudson Yards, Mitsui Fudosan is a majority stakeholder) as a “symbol of the city’s office resurgence” that’s opening “intensifies the return to work.” Eighty-four percent leased at pre-opening, major tenants set to move into 50 Hudson Yards in the coming weeks and months include anchor tenant BlackRock along with Facebook parent company Meta, Vista Equity Partners, Truist Financial, ServiceNow, Passkey and XTX Markets. On the retail/restaurant front, longtime Lower East Side Jewish appetizing staple Russ & Daughters is set to bring bagels, bialys, and babka to a new 4,500-square-foot Hudson Yards outpost opening in spring 2023. Additional dining destinations at 50 Hudson Yards will be announced in the coming months.

“Fifty Hudson Yards’ growing tenant base of industry leaders reinforces that the office is back and better than ever,” said Related CEO Jeff T. Blau in a press statement.

“The opening of Fifty Hudson Yards marks another major milestone in New York City’s continued economic recovery,” added New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who was on hand last week to celebrate the building’s formal opening. “With some of the biggest investors in the world leasing space in this building, these business leaders are sending a clear message that they have confidence in the future of our city and want to expand their footprint in the greatest city in the world.”

Despite the obvious enthusiasm of the city, Hudson Yards, and executives to get bodies back into the office in a big way, this ardor isn’t exactly embraced across the board by workers themselves, many of whom have become accustomed to the flexibility and comfort afforded by pandemic-spurred remote and hybrid work models.

Despite hesitance from some workers to return to the office on a full-time basis, the 50 Yards development team appears confident that the building’s unique design, focus on wellness and sustainability (it’s targeting LEED Gold), and, of course, myriad luxe amenities will serve as a sweetener. “Designed as multiple buildings within a building, Fifty Hudson Yards combines the rarified service of a boutique luxury office building with vast, column-free floorplates, high ceilings and sweeping skyline and river views, for an employee experience unlike any other,” reads a press release.

a large art installation in an office tower lobby
Lobby art installation view. (Francis Dzikowski/Otto for Hudson Yards)

Oxford president Michael Turner added: “The purpose of the office has changed, and today the world’s best workplaces are an experience that inspire employees, aids learning and mentorship and act as an extension of a company’s brand. Fifty Hudson Yards achieves all of this and more.”

Featuring a facade of glass and hand-carved Italian marble, Foster + Partners’ boxy tower fits comfortably into the dizzying vertical landscape of Hudson Yards dotted with office and residential towers designed by the likes of KPF, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and SOM. The interiors of 50 Hudson Yards were designed by the firm in collaboration with Tony Ingrao, with notable spaces including a soaring, double-height lobby with a “distinctive” spiral staircase leading up to a mezzanine-level private and bar and lounge; a reservable event venue on the 32nd floor featuring a variety of gathering spaces “befitting the most luxurious hotels; and Upstairs at Fifty Hudson Yards, an amenity space topping the building that the developers described as an “exclusive service offering that introduces a new paradigm for office benefits directed by the building’s dedicated concierge.”

facade detail of a glass skyscraper
Facade detail of 50 Hudson Yards. (© Nigel Young / Foster + Partners)

The aforementioned works by Frank Stella, a pair of large-scale abstract sculptures rendered from painted steel, aluminum and fiberglass, can be found in the ground-level lobby area.

Notably, a staggering 94 elevators (!) service the building. Norman Foster, founder and executive chairman of Foster + Partners, noted that the building’s “unique elevator strategy and unique space planning provide prime users of the tower with their own lobbies, exclusive access and separate identities.”

“Our project is a response to the site within Hudson Yards, but its geometry also respects the wider context of the New York street grid,” added Foster, who also called out the building’s flexibility-minded, column-free floorplates, spacious ceiling heights, and direct connection via tunnel to the 34th Street–Hudson Yards subway station.

Clear across town, Foster + Partners is also celebrating this week’s grand opening of 425 Park Avenue, another glassy and superlatively tall office tower that replaces a (partially demolished) landmark modernist skyscraper that once stood at the site.

Back at Hudson Yards, the big news as of late, in addition to the opening of its newest office tower, is Related’s teaming with Wynn Resorts to bring a casino to the far west side of Manhattan as part of phase two of the development. Last week, developer SL Green Realty and gambling giant Caesars Entertainment jumped into the proverbial ring with a competing bid that would see a casino land in the heart of Times Square, a plan that has already been greeted with considerable pushback from the Broadway community.