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Beekman tower, 8 Spruce Street - Frank Gehry

Project Specifications:


New York, United States


Gehry Partners LLP


Frank Gehry

Built in:



1,000,000 Ft2



Land Uses:



Multifamily Rental Housing

Open space





265m / 869Ft / 76 Stories tall


New York by Gehry is the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere, and the first ever designed by Frank Gehry. The architect’s distinctive glass and stainless steel cladding, flowing lines and organic shapes create an elegant architectural silhouette that has redefined the skyline of Manhattan. His innovative approach to incorporating free-form bay windows results in the building’s dynamic silhouette and exceptional panoramic views from its residences.

The undulating folds in the exterior wall make for an unprecedented variety of residential unit layouts—over 350 in all. Frank Gehry has designed all of the interior finishes in the units as well as the amenity and public spaces In addition to its 903 market-rate rental apartments, the mixed-use development includes a 100,000-square-foot public school on the first through fifth floors, the first ever built-in New York City on private land, as well as doctors’ offices for physicians associated with New York Downtown Hospital. There is 1,300 square feet of ground-floor retail space and 26,000 square feet of below-grade parking for 175 cars for hospital use. The development also includes 15,000 square feet of open space in two beautiful landscaped public plazas.

The building’s first apartments, located on floors 7 through 38, were introduced to the market in February 2011, to a hugely enthusiastic response. In just five months, 40 percent of the building has already been rented. The upper floors from 40 through 76, featuring large two- and three-bedroom units were released to an eager market in July 2011.


Design Philosophy :

In the design for the building, the developer and architect chose to create a slender tower set

apart from adjacent buildings by plazas. The zoning for the site did not restrict the building height,

so rather than fill the entire site to achieve the allowable floor/area ratio, the developers and designers chose to erect a taller structure and add open space at ground level on two sides of the

building. This scheme offered several benefits: it allowed creation of a very tall, freestanding

tower; it created more units at the top with better and more marketable views; it improved the

views from the lower floors, which now look out onto landscaped plazas; and it offered a better

pedestrian experience at the ground level, where privately owned plazas open to the public offer

a parklike setting. The inclusion of a school also helped enliven the ground-level environment. The

final design for the building included 76 stories and 1,040,904 square feet of space.

Baroque inspiration / modern technique: Sheathed in a stainless steel curtain-wall with glass panels, New York by Gehry has the unmistakably undulating, asymmetrical look of a Frank Gehry building. Its folds, reminiscent of shiny, draped fabric, were inspired by the work of 17th Century Italian sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini. The architect has made a point to distinguish these dramatic “Bernini folds” from the softer look of Michelangelo’s sculptural draping. This complex surface geometry of the building’s curtain wall was mapped by a computer software platform developed by Gehry Technologies called Digital Project. The “Ripple” Effect: The building’s 428,000 square feet of undulating curtain wall contains 270 tons of 18 gauge steel, hand-finished in Japan. Its engineering took three years and fabrication two years. The façade is constructed from 10,500 separate 1,000-pound sculptural panels, 9,000 of them unique! “New York” style: For New York by Gehry, Frank Gehry has modernized the design language of the classic Manhattan high-rise, playfully but respectfully riffing on the layer-cake look so common among the city’s skyscrapers.

Skyline and sunlight:

Like the Chrysler Building, which also has a stainless steel skin, the façade softly reflects ambient colors from neighboring buildings and the East River. New York by Gehry's glittering surface catches the warm glow of the morning and evening sunlight. Context and conversation: New York by Gehry exists in lively conversation with neighboring structures like New York City Hall, Cass Gilbert’s Woolworth Building and the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. On a pedestal but down to earth: The stainless steel-wrapped residential tower of New York by Gehry sits on a terracotta-colored brick podium, which acts as a pedestal for the glorious edifice, but also engages the surrounding community. This podium houses not just the residential lobby but a public school, retail space and doctors’ offices.

Bay windows:

“Stepping into space”

The intricate design of New York by Gehry's flowing curtain wall allows for many different apartment configurations. Where the walls connect with the exterior façade, free-form bay windows move out into the apex of the folds. Gehry calls the feeling of entering these window bays and experiencing the breathtaking panoramic views “stepping into space.” Intimate outdoor space: New York by Gehry's two public plazas are designed by Field Operations, designers of New York City’s High Line, and horticulturist Piet Oudoulf, who collaborated with Gehry on Chicago’s Millennium Park. Featuring intimate seating within a park of trees, native grasses and perennials, the plazas offer a pastoral transition between the building and the bustle of the busy city. A layered mass of canopy trees produce various light quality throughout the day, creating an urban oasis enhanced by sculptural elements covered in vines, lighted planters and animated water features.


Material & Façade :

Unique layouts:

Frank Gehry’s dynamic design of the exterior wall makes for an unprecedented variety of residential unit layouts. The 903 units are located on floors seven through Penthouse and include studio apartments, one, two and three bedrooms.

Panoramic views:

From bay windows, all directions offer stunning vistas: intimate perspectives of the Woolworth Building to the west are set against a panorama that encompasses the Hudson River’s piers and parks. All five East River bridges and iconic midtown skyscrapers, including the Empire State and Chrysler buildings, unfold in front of the eastern and northern exposures. Views toward the northern horizon include Central Park and the George Washington Bridge. To the south and east, Manhattan is seen against the backdrop of New York Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean.

Welcoming entrance:

Frank Gehry’s custom-designed sculptural concierge desk in the residential lobby resonates with the building’s architectural style and complements the lobby’s honey-colored vertical grain Douglas fir walls. Residents enter New York by Gehry via a porte cochère between Beekman and Spruce Streets fronted by an 11,500 square-foot plaza.


All interior finishes and fixtures have been selected by Frank Gehry, including cabinetry crafted in his signature honey-colored, vertical-grain Douglas Fir. In addition, he designed sculptural residential entry door handles and hardware for New York by Gehry inspired by organic forms and movement. All residences are finished with white oak flooring, fitted with solar shades that offer privacy while preserving views, and outfitted with stainless steel Energy Star appliances and washer/dryer units. Building-wide features include water filtration, individually-controlled vertical heating and cooling units, and only low-emitting paints, coatings and sealants with low-volatile organic content that has been used to improve indoor air quality.


The construction :

he promotion budget is reflected especially in the materials used. The outer skin of the facade is made of stainless steel instead of titanium are used to seeing in other works by Gehry, and the building has virtually no environmental parameter over some material with an energy efficiency slightly above the standards.

The facade consists of a curtain wall supplied and installed by the company PNA, one of the few familiar with the use of CATIA software, with which the study of Gehry used to treat the complex geometry of its projects. After installing the curtain wall, which ensures minimum standards of climatic comfort, acoustic, etc. were placed end steel panels to shape the project. Finally rectangular panels were manufactured 10,911 to cover 39,727 m2 totaling eight sides of the tower. Only 1,888 of these panels were repeated. There are 1,568 and 2,178 pieces sinuous shaped flat pieces to cover columns. There are 5,177 pieces of glass containing openings (all crystals are flat). The panels, each 3m in height, widths ranging from 1m to 2.3 m.

To lower costs were achieved in the cold mold (much cheaper method) 70% of the panels. For the rest had to resort to hot forming methods.

The curtain wall that runs underneath these panels is composed of two layers, an inner and an outer that ensures water resistance. All of the curtain wall panels are joined with unions such male-female to join each other and are anchored individually to the structure. The inner layer consists of flat glass and insulation is at all points of the building by his side visible from the interior spaces.


Drawings :


Sustainable Practices :

New York by Gehry is not LEED certified. In fact, Frank Gehry made quite a stir last year when he stated that “a lot of LEED is given for bogus stuff” and that the costs were not always worth it. He later clarified his views in an interview on PBS, elaborating that he is, in fact, in favor of innovative practices to make environmentally sustainable building choices even if they are not included in LEED’s process. Gehry feels the road to furthering environmental sustainability is a political one, citing his recent work in Switzerland:

It seems that New York does have some environmentally friendly features such as Low-E windows, Energy Star appliances and a greywater filtration system,” though it’s incredibly surprising that these features are not highlighted (or even mentioned) on the building’s official website. “They don’t use the LEED program over there, the government just says this is what you can and can’t do, and things have to be built in a sustainable way. So really it’s a political thing: People taking responsibility on an individual level combined with government programs that give mandates that say ‘this is how we’re going to require people to build.’”

The New York could easily have taken a page from neighboring Battery Park City’s recent and significant progress towards creating best practices in environmentally friendly, low-carbon residential high-rises. Just take a look at the Solaire, a LEED Gold building designated in 2004. The Solaire lowers energy demand by utilizing about 450 solar panels, built into the building’s façade, as well as greywater filtration to supply water to the building’s toilets and rooftop garden. The Visionaire and Tribeca Green have platinum and gold LEED ratings, respectively. These “green” buildings exist here because the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), designated in 1968 to redevelop Battery Park, adopted a policy that requires developers to build environmentally-sustainable apartments that address enhanced indoor air quality, water conservation and purification, energy efficiency, recycling construction waste and the use of recycled building materials, and commissioning to ensure building performance.

BPCA has even created a user-friendly best practices document that detailed the ways in which they have successfully integrated sustainable measures into their residential buildings, something I hope developers of the New York reviewed prior to construction. With structures of the magnitude of the new New York, the potential impact of instituting efficient, forward-looking building and living practices is meaningful and should not be easily glossed over.

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