The Durst Organization initially commissioned BIG to design the VIA Courtscraper in early 2010, and the building has evolved into one of the most hotly anticipated construction projects in the city. Construction began in 2011, and it took five long years for the unique building to take shape. The 32-story building finally opened to residents in May of this year, even though construction didn’t actually wrap up until a few months later. Compared to other high-rise residential buildings in the city, the VIA Courtscraper is special in a number of ways. VIA is a hybrid of European perimeter block-style construction and the traditional American high-rise. Due to its unusual pyramid structure, the building’s apex at 450 feet at its northeast corner allows for more apartments without disturbing the Hudson River views from the adjacent Helena Tower.
Green space at the VIA Courtscraper is abundant. The courtyard holds a communal garden, with a design suggestive of the classic Copenhagen ‘urban oasis’. The courtyard has the exact same proportions as Central Park, but is 13,000 times smaller–intended to be symbolic as a sort of “bonsai” version of the city’s largest park. The courtyard garden was designed by landscape architecture firm Starr Whitehouse, and features 80 newly planted trees and lawns, as well as 47 species of native plant material. In the east portion of the courtyard, the garden resembles a shaded forest, while the western side is more of a sunny meadow.
The VIA Courtscraper has already snagged a number of awards, including the Best Tall Building in the Americas from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) as part of its 2016 Tall Buildings Award.
The Danish “starchitect” behind the project had some choices words to share about the completion of VIA Courtscraper. “In recent decades, some of the most interesting urban developments have come in the form of nature and public space, reinserting themselves back into the postindustrial pockets, freeing up around the city,” said Ingels. “Located at the northern tip of the Hudson River Park, VIA continues this process of greenification allowing open space to invade the urban fabric of the Manhattan city grid. In an unlikely fusion of what seems to be two mutually exclusive typologies – the courtyard and the skyscraper, the Courtscraper is the most recent addition to the Manhattan skyline.”
Images via BIG except second photo by Yuka Yoneda/Inhabitat