Winner and Finalists Announced in Competition to Redevelop an Office Tower for Residential Use
Metals in Construction magazine has announced the winners of its 2023 Design Challenge, which asked architects and engineers to submit their concepts for redeveloping an office tower for residential use in New York City’s famed Theater District.
The competition was speculative, but its design brief was based in reality: The popularity of remote work has put office tower occupancy around 40% of pre-pandemic levels, and building owners are looking for new uses for their properties. Redevelopment for residential use is one option that is becoming increasingly relevant given the severity of housing shortages in many cities.
To explore this emerging need, the 2023 Design Challenge asked entrants to propose innovative office-to-apartment redevelopment concepts for 1633 Broadway, a 48-story skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan. Their proposals for the 2.5-million-square-foot building could alter the structural frame, building core and/or vertical circulation, in addition to replacing the existing curtain wall. Other aspects of the design brief sought residential layouts in line with current and future desires for apartment living in New York, as well as a demonstration of year-round environmental control and code-required natural ventilation along with other key elements of constructibility in the city.
“Each year the Challenge explores the role of the built environment in helping to resolve sociocultural issues. Last year it was to improve indoor environmental quality by envisioning a curtain wall system better able to regulate in real-time the ever-changing conditions of life indoors, an urgent issue brought to light by the pandemic. This year it addressed another emerging trend: office buildings losing tenants to remote work and exploring conversion to needed residential use. The ideas generated in the score of entries we received approached the problem in imaginative, commendable ways encouraging us to continue the magazine’s Design Challenge in 2024.”
Entries were evaluated by a five-person jury: Alyssa Brennan, senior vice president of residential leasing & marketing at Rockrose Development; Alastair Elliott, PE, LEED AP, principal and director of operations at Silman; Enrica Oliva, partner and COO at Werner Sobek New York; Dan Shannon, AIA, managing partner at MdeAS; and Claire Weisz, FAIA, founding partner of WXY.
After a day of deliberation and review of 26 qualifying entries in early March, the jury selected the winning entry, titled Vertical Village, for presenting a bold design that combined practical solutions to the challenges of office-to-apartment conversion while allowing room for aspirational gestures that would allow the building to make its mark on the skyline and on the surrounding neighborhood.
The jury presented the winning designs and their remarks in a webinar that may be viewed on-demand via Architectural Record’s Continuing Education portal. Below are some comments excerpted from their discussion of the Vertical Village proposal:
“Vertical Village had an ambition about architecture and it combined many of the strategies that we saw in other entries. You can see it did have an idea about stacking and doubling up and at the same time it used some really strong unit-mix strategies to do that. And it has an attitude about how this existing building will do both things: it will let light and air into the lower levels and create something new on top. As a combination it was very, very ambitious.”
“This struck the balance in the strongest way of the typologies—an office building and a residential building—this recognized that they’re not the same thing but saw the common language, it understood the sustainability criteria, it understood its urban scale. The one thing it did extraordinarily was calling out itself in the landscape of New York.”
“They are totally removing the existing core which for most of these skyscrapers is a significant portion of their lateral stability; they’re doing an exoskeleton approach. As a structural engineer I always get excited when a designer exposes and makes the structure ‘read.’ They were intentional about it. It balances maintaining as much of the existing structure as possible—it recognizes that you need to do some intervention, but do it in an efficient way.”
“Overall it is a bold move to shift the core, but also how does the performance of the building improve when you do that as well as when you look at what it costs and how comfortable it is to live in the building? In this case what I appreciated was that the team studied a layout for the facade panels that was very customized to the sun path; they looked at what it means to live in this unit during different times of the year. They did daylighting studies to prove that the amount of daylight that gets into the unit is dramatically improved. This very bold move of carving out a portion of the building had the benefit of then reflecting on the quality of life for the occupants. I really appreciated that in this entry they looked at it from all these different aspects. They were able to be so bold and at the same time so confident that in a place like New York City, that is such an aggressive market, this could be a good solution to repurpose the building and make it a more desirable option for residents.”
“They took the H-shape that was a more desirable layout and went a step beyond that. There are connectors between two complete towers, but then maximizing those and creating impressive amenity spaces took them to the next level. There are few buildings in New York City that have these connectors, but those that do are quite impressive and bold. What I thought was thoughtful about the unit layouts was that they are almost the same layouts but they thought about the demographics of each, that was really something they put a lot of thought into.”
The winning team will receive the 2023 competition’s $15,000 grand prize. Along with Vertical Village, the jury chose five additional teams as finalists in the 2023 Design Challenge. The winner and finalist entries may be viewed in full below. For more information about the annual competition, visit metalsinconstruction.org.
Grand Prize: Vertical Village
Vertical Village Team
Atelier Ten: Chad Groshart; Joseph Guida
Buro Ehring: Tania Lopes; Juan Paulino; Kelly Tam; Holger Schulze-Ehring
STUDIOS Architecture: Ata Aksu; David Burns; Frank Gesualdi; Brian Kim; Anais Marston; Sara Schuster; Nando Tirado
Common Ground Team
Brian Lin, AIA; Christine Li, LEED AP; Chasce Tang
Double Up Team
Geoff Lynch; Ross Wimer; Francis Cooke; Jeff Burke; Allison Lane; Rebecca Mechanic; Chris Shipper; Angel Flores; Garrett Harper; Hunter Gillespie; Naoko Oguro; Lizzy Shaw
Grid Commons Team
Pickard Chilton: Michael Hensley, Deborah Lukan, Ashkan Shirani, Aashti Miller, Deep Chaniara, Dhyan Sharma, Yuhao Wu, Ziyu Chen, Shaoshuai Jiang, Mig Halpine, Erika Back
Green Townhouse Tower
Green Townhouse Tower Team
HLW – Architecture: Gabriel Bunea; Ricardo Amaya; Vatsal Upadhay; Michael Tegnell; Ikue Sone; Richard Brennan
HLW BEYOND – Sustainability: Jonce Walker; Anthony Rho; Emmy Funk
HLW Next/ – Animation: Bharti Kodnani; Chenzhang Wang; Lee Devore
Buro Happold – MEP Systems: Denzil Gallagher; Christian Von Holten
Midtown Green Team
SCHORN: Kevin Schorn; Keely Brittles
ARUP: Architecture: Jon Cicconi, Vivian Kinuthia, and Nicolas Becker; Structure: David Farnsworth and Olga Pavlenko; MEP: Mark Walsh-Cooke; Facades: Markus Schulte and Samuel Berrigan; Sustainability: Ilana Judah and Tess McNamara; Experience Design: Paul McConnell and John Moody; Urban Planning: Raju Mann and James Francisco