Manhattan Boasts World's Skinniest Skyscraper

The upper floors of Steinway Tower sway a few feet when it's windy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 18, 2022 8:33 AM CDT
Manhattan Boasts World's Skinniest Skyscraper
Four residential skyscrapers tower over the skyline south of Central Park. From left, Central Park Tower, One57, Steinway Tower and the MoMA Expansion Tower.   (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

(Newser) – One skyscraper stands out from the rest in the Manhattan skyline. It's not the tallest, but it is the skinniest—the world's skinniest, in fact. The recently completed 84-story residential Steinway Tower, designed by New York architecture firm SHoP Architects, has the title of "most slender skyscraper in the world" thanks to its logic-defying ratio of width to height: 23 1/2-to-1, the AP reports. "Any time it’s 1-to-10 or more that’s considered a slender building; 1-to-15 or more is considered exotic and really difficult to do," says SHoP Architects founding principal Gregg Pasquarelli. "The most slender buildings in the world are mostly in Hong Kong, and they’re around 17- or 18-to-1."

The 60 apartments in the tower range in cost from $18 million to $66 million per unit, and offer 360-degree views of the city. It's located just south of Central Park, along a stretch of Manhattan’s 57th Street known as “Billionaires Row.” At 1,428 feet the building is the second-tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere, second to the nearby Central Park Tower at 1,550 feet. The world’s tallest tower is Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, which stands at 2,717 feet. Steinway Tower is so skinny at the top that whenever the wind ramps up, the luxury homes on the upper floors sway around by a few feet.

“Every skyscraper has to move,” Pasquarelli says. "If it’s too stiff, it’s actually more dangerous—it has to have flexibility in it." To prevent the tower from swaying too far, the architects created a counterbalance with tuned steel plates. And while the exterior has the de rigueur reflective glass, it also includes a textured terracotta and bronze facade that creates wind turbulence to slow the acceleration of the building, Pasquarelli said. About 200 rock anchors descend at most 100 feet into the underlying bedrock to provide a deep foundation. Steinway Tower has a long history as the location of Steinway Hall, constructed in 1924. The landmark was restored, with the new tower as an addition.

(Read more skyscraper stories.)

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