Alternative Tower for MoMA 53W53

New York
Axis Mundi
53 West 53rd Street, New York

approx. 600 ft

50 above (2 below)

Building Footprint
17,000 sq. ft.

MoMA Expansion Galleries
32,500 square feet

Design Team
John Beckmann, CarloMaria Ciampoli, James Coleman (LAN), Nick Messerlian, Pauline Marie d’Avigneau, and Taina Pichon

Parametric Modeling
CarloMaria Ciampoli, James Coleman (LAN)

Orchid 3D

Michael Wartella

© Axis Mundi Design LLC

In a city as diverse as New York—where over 300 languages are spoken amongst countless cultures and nationalities—it’s puzzling to find skyscrapers formatted in cookie-cutter, one-style-fits-all fashion. This proposal presents a radically different conceptual alternative. Taking inspiration from randomly piled Brazilian favelas and Italian hill towns, the design offers a more accommodating flexibility for individual expression. Unit modules of 800 to 2,000 square feet, called “SmartBlocks,” are assembled like pieces in a three-dimensional vertical puzzle around two cores that run the full height of double towers. Each SmartBlock has a different exterior treatment based on a handful of iconic architectural styles, giving the irregularly stacked façade the appearance of a crazy-quilt vertical neighborhood. This alternative reframes the conversation around building tall while reflecting the heterogeneous reality of a great city. It represents a dynamic urbanism of difference, more visually alive than the glass-and-steel monotony of most city towers.


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