French Architect Jean Nouvel’s plan to adorn the Museum of Modern Art on 53rd street with his Torre Verre, often called the ‘Death Spire,’ was thought to have been put to death in 2009, when City Planning Commission chair Amanda Burden put a strong hold on it, calling it an eyesore addition to our city’s skyline. But the design, albeit 200 feet shorter, has now been reawakened by development company Hines. Taking the tower from 1,250 feet to 1,050, Hines has re-filed the plans, which are now said to be in accordance with the Commission’s plans — and, wait for it — do not require public approval.
Back in 2007, MoMA sold the property to Hines for $125 million to build Nouvel’s sparkling glass tower. Aside from cash, the Spire would add three floors of gallery space to the current museum at its base. Jutting above 53rd Street in a myriad of darkened glass, the Spire’s point was to outreach the Chrysler Building — but the City Planning Commission wasn’t so keen to add a new tick in Midtown’s skyline.
The Coalition for Responsible Midtown Development was against the project from the get-go, citing the proposed building to be too tall for the neighborhood to handle. They hoped for a 500 foot building, much like the nearby Financial Times Building. The main problem that the Commission found was that the proposed “crown” for the tower was thought to obscure the views of tourists visiting the Empire State Building. Hines and Nouvel argued that shortening the Spire would compromise the Spire’s architectural integrity and not be worth the weighty investment. And so the project laid dormant.
But seemingly the plans are back into play, with Hines’ new set of plans filed. It is not yet known whether the revised plans simply shorten the original plan, or if a new tower has been designed. Given the debate “To Build or Not to Build” debate over the tower, little has been said about the design, so we’re still not sure how green it is. But it is awfully massive, and we all know how much waste new construction creates…