Designed by architectural firm RB Systems (www.rb-systems.us), founded in 2016 by Rustem Baishev, 265 West 45th Street proposes a tower typology that has recently emerged in New York City — the “Super Slender.” To be located on a small, currently vacant site on West 45th St., the building’s footprint would measure approximately 98 feet by 98 feet, with the tower rising to more than 1,300 feet tall, and provide modern, ergonomic, sustainable office spaces for multi-floor corporate tenants. The project is another take on a path that skyscraper design will likely be following in the coming years to meet challenges of constrained and dense city centers with their shortage of large vacant lots, yet ever-growing demand for new properties.
The tower’s structural system solely determines its appearance. Because of the constrained site, the choice was made to eliminate perimeter columns and substitute them with a set of steel cables that run and twist along the height of the tower, allowing for an ultralight, yet sturdy structural assembly. The cables are anchored in a deep foundation, MEP zones, and tied back to the core at the upper structural ring. According to the architect, the spiral arrangement of the cables — the “twist” — creates a force of surface tension, resulting in a “corset” holding the insides contained, similar to a candy that is held inside a wrapper because its ends are twisted.
Architecturally, it becomes an expression of the building’s structure — a sleek, minimal, and futuristic volume of reflective glass, a cylindrical tube that is also one of the most efficient shapes for wind resistance. It is also abstract, and aligns with technology-oriented aesthetics. Solutions such as circulating elevators and a multi-story lobby with automatic visitors’ dispatch systems connected to their mobile devices allow higher occupancy rates than typical office buildings.
Due to extremely dense spatial arrangement of the tower, a solution for locating a multi-ton tuned mass damper had to be non-trivial. The idea was to design a toroidal damper, which will not take up space directly on top of the core, to leave it free to locate elevator overruns and to provide continuity of evacuation paths such as stairs inside the core. Thus, the damper circles the core with even distribution of mass, and is software controlled to counteract sways caused by high-velocity winds.
Redefining the street
One of the most distinctive features of the design is the “Halo” canopy — a toroid volume above the entrance plaza. Clad in reflective glass on the sides and in bead-blasted chrome panels at the front and back, it subtly reflects the surroundings.
The entrance lobby, which greets visitors with an austere multi-story space, is a first glimpse into the tower’s modern, technology-driven interiors. Surrounded by the dark canyon of Midtown, it still relies heavily on artificial lighting. In double-deck elevators, visitors reach an observation deck at level 96, which provides 360-degree unobstructed views of the city.
A distinctive feature of the tower, the façade was scripted in parametric software to wrap the smooth and curvilinear shape of the building, and panelize it into flat panels comprised of paired triangles. The slim (only 500 mm in height) spandrel extends from the glazing panel above to allow for continuity of glass reflections and prevention of leakage. Each panel is tilted 1 degree toward the inside of the building. The boxes in which the cables run are capped by aluminum stamped panels with integrated and software-controlled rotating vents for natural ventilation/conditioning. Tapered slab ends allow for more daylight penetration, yet high-performance glass coating blocks excessive thermal gain.
As part of the tower’s integrated design approach, the furniture was also engineered to fit the space precisely. Due to the recently formulated risks that prolonged sitting poses on worker health, the space is equipped with ergonomic, sit-stand transformable furniture. The desks hang from the ceiling on gas-lift arms, which allow for easy individual adjustment of their height and rotation/position, as well as quick office layout reconfiguration based on tenant needs. Digital communication systems and video conference equipment allow a multi-floor tenant to cooperate effectively, freeing the staff from frequent travels between the floors.
Information provided by v2com (www.v2com-newswire.com), an international newswire specializing in design, architecture, and lifestyle. See additional renderings at www.rb-systems.us/projects#/265-w-45-st.