Lori Zimmer

Plans for Jean Nouvel’s Massive MoMA ‘Torre Verre’ Have Been Revived

by , 08/04/11

Museum of Modern Art, Jean Nouvel, Hines Development, Death Spire, Torre Verre, Midtown, New York Skyline, Midtown development, City Planning Commission, Amanda Burden, Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, Coalition for Responsible Midtown Development

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.

Museum of Modern Art, Jean Nouvel, Hines Development, Death Spire, Torre Verre, Midtown, New York Skyline, Midtown development, City Planning Commission, Amanda Burden, Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, Coalition for Responsible Midtown Development

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

+ Jean Nouvel

Via New York Observer

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1 Comment

  1. RitaSue Siegel August 8, 2011 at 9:02 am

    I am the vice president of the Coalition for Responsible Midtown Development. The name of the building is Tower Verre. Ms Burden opening the CP hearing saying how much she loved the project. True, the developer and Nouvel said they couldn’t make money on it if they had to take 200 ft off the top, but how quickly they forget…if they have new financing in place. We are sure Nouvel’s green intentions will prevail regardless of the size because it is a matter of pride, and he has lots of that. MoMA is leasing 3 stories in the building for gallery space. Our primary objection is that it will be the tallest building in NY located on a small side street. It will block the light from pedestrians and overwhelm the low rise area. It belongs on an avenue. CP will regret this approval as it sets a precedent that will unleash towers where zoning has prevented them from rising on side streets until now.