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A Crystal trying to reach for the Stars

Ateliers Jean Nouvel - Tour de Verre New York - New York

  • Like a crystal trying to reach the stars © Ateliers Jean Nouvel
  • The organically looking structure in the restaurant balance out the coolness © Ateliers Jean Nouvel
  • So close to the sky and another landmark for New York's skyline. © Ateliers Jean Nouvel
  • A delicate tower of steel, glass and concrete © Ateliers Jean Nouvel
When Nouvel’s Tour de Verre glass tower is completed one day, New York will have one more attraction.

The fact that Jean Nouvel is a Deconstructivism expert is something he keeps giving proof of for more than 20 years now. What he is planning for Manhattan in direct proximity to Central Park and the Museum of Modern art since 2007, is more than bold and will probably become his masterpiece. An entry in the book of records of material expressionism – if something like this did exist – would be for sure: 320 meters high, 83 floors, starting with areas of 3,700 m² on the ground and still 1,600 m² for the top floors: with a thousand glass facets, the creative Frenchman intends to erect a delicate, crystal-like, finely broken up tower as a perfect supplement and skyline marker for the MoMA. So let’s look forward to five galleries, a 5-star luxury hotel and eight apartments for homestead owners with big purses … garnished with environment-friendly solutions in terms of energy consumption such as wind power and solar concepts as well as rain water treatment for the washwater cycle.

Development Plan observed, Stroke of Genius developed

It sounds unbelievable, but Jean Nouvel has observed the requirements made by the district development plan despite his spectacular design. The slender shape of Tour de Verre allows him to make use of the literally tiny building gap and still let enough daylight into the street. The top summits will house sun collectors for the supporting energy supply, Aeolian turbines add to the energy concept, and the steel structure will be built in such a way that it will be able to withstand probably all wind loads. The tower will even consider economic aspects: The glass areas have standard dimensions, the tension of the steel construction follow simple geometrical principles. Hence, no special products will be necessary. A shell of steel ribbons will meander like a network of blood vessels around the tower and will take care of the right statics. Visually, these ribbons create an organic impression and will serve as a perfect counterpart of the coolness of glass and steel. And despite all this technology, this tower does not seem to be of this world, rather than a glittering crystal emerging from the deepest of dreams.

Choked off High

Actually, Jean Nouvel wanted to go even higher. His Tour de Verre was intended to be 381 meters high, as high as the Empire State Building. However, the local building authorities were too skeptical that it might be too shadowy in Central Park during winter. Also the Museum of Modern Art, standing right next to the construction area, had its problems with this height – despite being positive about the project, it has sold the premises to the Hines development group, after all. Nouvel bore it with dignity and mumbles when no one’s listening. His comment on the cut: “I wonder how it can be that a city like New York with a quarter like Manhattan can be afraid of heights!“ So, it’s 62 meters less, but still very impressive. Jean Nouvel proves once again: The whole thing is greater than the sum of its parts. Chapeau!


Hines Interests Limited Partnership, Houston, USA


Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Paris, France


scheduled completion still unknown (financing currently not clear), building permission October 2009


Height: 320 m
82 full floors

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Show all 6 comments

Teresa Cruz


1 year 2 weeks 4 days ago

Patrick Frauendorf

Pretty cool!!!

1 year 2 weeks 2 days ago

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