Ahead of the curve

World-renowned architect Zaha Hadid’s first NYC project rises on the High Line


The High Line is New York’s unequaled architectural promenade, where the city’s most challenging, intellectual and artistic new towers by the world’s most celebrated architects can be admired from an arm’s length via a leisurely stroll.

But architecture is still largely a man’s game, and the High Line is no exception. Bjarke Ingels, Rem Koolhaas, Morris Adjmi, Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, Shigeru Ban, Neil Denari and Soo Chan have all designed buildings here, and all of them are male. Zaha Hadid, practically the only female architect with household name recognition, is breaking up that exclusive men’s club.

Hadid, known for her futuristic designs, such as the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku and the MAXXI-National Museum in Rome, designed her first residential project in NYC along the High Line at 520 West 28th Street. While 520w28 is somewhat tempered by Manhattan’s infamously constraining zoning, it displays some of her otherworldly vision.

Hadid “creates buildings with a sense of motion frozen in time,” her website says. And this project is a clear example of that design mission.

The curved façade consists of dozens of jutting, teardrop-shaped glass sections, elongated and tipped on their sides, that interconnect horizontally along sweeping black lines. It has a 1960s feel to it, but prices are very contemporary.

The 11-story building will house 39 floor-to-ceiling-window condos, with prices ranging from $5 million for a two-bedroom unit to $50 million for a triplex penthouse. The $50 million penthouse, which spans almost 6,400 square feet, features a sculptural, custom-designed staircase. And the building’s amenities include the city’s first private IMAX theater, a 75-foot sky-lit swimming pool and a “wellness level” with a gym and cold-press juice bar. The building is scheduled to open in about one year.

Meanwhile, weekend High Line amblers will have to endure one of NYC’s ubiquitous nuisances — scaffolding. However, even the vertical maze of plywood and metal beams at Hadid’s project was given aesthetic consideration. The project’s developer, Related Companies, asked Hadid to design a special “wrap” to mask the all-too-common eyesore — part good will, part marketing move.

Her solution was to coat the structure with shimmering white-and-silver Serge Ferrari fabric.

“I think it quite looks like a spaceship,” Karen Reinhard, a tourist from Manchester, England told the Times. “It enfolds you, and sort of creates a view and blocks the view at the same time.”

Now you see me, now you don’t. We think that’s probably what she was going for.