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Frank Gehry's 8 Spruce Street can be seen in the New York City skyline (Photo: Marcelgermain/Flickr CC)

Changing the Skyline: 8 Stunning NYC Buildings Designed by Starchitects

Celebrities come in all shapes and sizes (OK, maybe not), but the celebrities of the skies certainly do – check out these eight distinctive buildings changing the shape of the New York skyline and the eight brilliant architects behind them

In New York, a city where the buildings speak as loudly as the residents, architects carry some serious star power. The best and most glamorous architects — dubbed “starchitects” — are literally changing the face of the skyline with amazingly high towers or, in the case of Zaha Hadid, futuristic-looking dwellings off the High Line that (if the renderings are accurate) will seem to have descended from a galactic empire. Robert A.M. Stern, Frank Gehry, Richard Meier: These are architecture’s biggest guns, and when they design a building in New York City they go all the way. Unlike with Hollywood celebrities, though, New Yorkers have the chance to bask in their glory as they wander the streets and take in the effects on the ever changing urban landscape. And New Yorkers with deep enough pockets even have the chance to dwell with the starchitects. Without further ado, here are eight of the most influential projects the city has seen of late – some completed and others still in the design phase.


520 West 28th Street by Zaha Hadid

520 West 28th Street by Zaha Hadid (Photo: Courtesy of Related Companies)

Architect: Zaha Hadid
Building: 520 West 28th Street
Neighborhood: Chelsea

In a profession that oftentimes seems dominated by men, the Baghdad-born Zaha Hadid has made a powerful impression in the architecture world with her curvy, futuristic designs. Hadid studied architecture in London and was trained under Rem Koolhaas, eventually joining his firm in the Netherlands before starting her own firm in London in 1980. She was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Despite plenty of international recognition, Hadid’s building at 520 West 28th Street is her first in New York City. Related Companies commissioned her firm for the 11-story condo building on the High Line and the result it a swooping, modernist residential building made of glass and steel. Double-height entrance lobby, a communal garden, multiple elevator cores and private courtyards mark the two- to five-bedroom spaces. The firm has compared the design of one of the 37 residences to a “Don Draper apartment.” Construction has not yet started for this project, which will likely leave New Yorkers in awe of what Hadid is capable.


Metal Shutter Houses at 524 West 19th Street by Shigeru Ban

Metal Shutter Houses at 524 West 19th Street by Shigeru Ban

Architect: Shigeru Ban
Building: Metal Shutter Houses at 524 West 19th Street
Neighborhood: Chelsea

Shigeru Ban, a famous Japanese architect with work around the world, has roots in New York City: He trained at Cooper Union. His Metal Shutter Houses project, completed in 2007, has a New York aesthetic with an innovative twist. The Chelsea building at 524 West 19th Street is an 11-story stack of “boxes” with open-and-shut metal shutters. Ban is known for “poetic” architecture and for his use of unusual materials. (He has worked extensively with recycled cardboard paper tubes, constructing structures to efficiently house disaster victims.) The facade’s motorized perforated metal shutters are used as privacy screens for each apartment unit. The “removable skin” of the building blurs the transition from interior to exterior. Behind the shutters, the apartment units feature sleek, modern interiors. Currently there are no units on the market here.


15 Central Park West by Robert A.M. Stern

15 Central Park West by Robert A.M. Stern (Photo: Peter Bond/pvsbond/Flickr CC)

Architect: Robert A.M. Stern
Building: 15 Central Park West
Neighborhood: Upper West Side

Robert A.M. Stern is a celebrated postmodern architect and the current Dean of the Yale University School of Architecture. He has designed notable buildings across the United States, but he’s made a particularly large mark on the New York City landscape with 15 Central Park West. Completed in 2008, 15 CPW echoes the great Art Deco apartment buildings erected in the neighborhood in the 20s. Stern designed two different limestone structures: a 19-story tower on Central Park West dubbed “the house” and a 25-story tower on Broadway. The two buildings are joined by a glass-enclosed lobby. The price tag to build this ultra-luxury condo building? $950 million. Eight condos are currently on the market, priced from $9.1 million to $85 million. If you can’t afford to buy, renting doesn’t offer much of a relief: the two rentals on the market are asking $45,000 and $125,000 a month. Robert A.M. Stern does not come cheap, especially since he’s designed what some consider the most prestigious address in the city.


Frank Gehry's 8 Spruce Street

New York by Gehry at 8 Spruce Street by Frank Gehry (Photo: Mambodan/Flickr CC)

Architect: Frank Gehry
Building: New York by Gehry at 8 Spruce Street
Neighborhood: Financial District

Is Frank Gehry New York’s most famous starchitect? He’s certainly one of the most influential architects in the entire country, and many of his buildings have quickly become tourist attractions. Vanity Fair even dubbed the Los Angeles-based architect “the most important architect of our age.” His design at 8 Spruce Street, also known as New York by Gehry, is one of the most celebrated modern skyscrapers in New York City. The spiraling, stainless steel and glass tower transformed the skyline of Lower Manhattan post Sept. 11. The undulating facade is comprised of 10,500 stainless steel panels of different shapes, inspiring the feeling of graceful movement. The rental apartment units have unique floor plans and asymmetrical bay windows that reflect the curve of the building. Penthouses on the top floors (the building is 76 stories, the tallest residential tower in New York City) offer stunning views over the expanse of Manhattan. There are currently 20 rentals listed on the marked, priced from $3,065 to $39,500 a month.


Richard Meier's One Grand Army Plaza

One Grand Army Plaza by Richard Meier (Photo: scurzuzu/Flickr CC)

Architect: Richard Meier
Building: On Prospect Park at One Grand Army Plaza
Neighborhood: Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Richard Meier is a starchitect New Yorkers can claim as their own — his firm is based on the Upper West Side. He began his practice in the city in 1963 and made a name for himself with glassy, modernist designs that build off the work of mid-20th century architecture, particularly Le Corbusier. Meier has designed projects in countries including China, Tel Aviv and Paris. But back in the early 2000s, his firm picked an even more exotic location for a starchitect: Brooklyn. Meier was the first starchitect to cross the East River, in a time before the masses were rushing to Brooklyn to snatch up condo units. He designed a floor-to-ceiling glass condo building that looks out onto Grand Army Plaza and Prospect Park. The building name, fittingly, is On Prospect Park. It was a bold move to design a towering, all-glass structure on one of the busiest intersections of Brooklyn, and many Brooklynites expressed their doubts the units would sell. After several years on the market, the condos officially sold out last summer at high prices. There’s one unit currently on the market for rent asking a hefty $15,000 a month.


Jean Nouvel's 100 11th Avenue

100 11th Avenue by Jean Nouvel (Photo: locationunknown/Flickr CC)

Architect: Jean Nouvel
Building: 100 11th Avenue
Neighborhood: Chelsea

Is there a French word for starchitect? Because Jean Nouvel, an architect based in Paris, most definitely deserves it as a title. He’s an accomplished architect who designed cultural centers, theaters, museums and skyscrapers around the world. He was chosen as the architect for the Louvre branch in Abu Dhabi, expected to open in 2015. As for his work in New York, he completed the residential tower at 100 11th Avenue in 2010. The 23-story condo building has a curving facade made of geometric, large rectangles of clear glass. From afar, the building almost looks like it sparkles. Up close, you’ll find an order to the endless, variously sized windows.  These super-modern condo units don’t come cheap — a $12.5 million condo just entered contract, and three more units are on the market. Here, a 495-foot studio is asking $995,000. Only in New York! Jean Nouvel is also the architect-in-charge for the mega project Tower Verre, a luxury skyscraper proposed adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art. The plans for the development, however, have been in limbo for years.


Bjarke Ingels's 625 West 57th Street

625 West 57th Street by Bjarke Ingels

Architect: Bjarke Ingels
Building: W57 at 625 West 57th Street
Neighborhood: Upper West Side

Bjarke Ingels doesn’t have a big name in New York like many of the other starchitects, but it’s just a matter of time. The young Danish architect is known for his innovative designs and unconventional buildings. Most of his work has been in Europe and China, but he’s making his New York City debut in a big way. Construction has started on his apartment building at 625 West 57th Street, called W57. It’s an exciting, eye-catching design that seems to defy concrete definition. (The NYC real estate website Curbed resorted to calling the project a “magic pyramid/peanut butter and jelly sandwich/snow drift.” The 750-unit building will indeed resemble a sort of distorted pyramid with its steeply sloped facade. Units will have angular balconies that look out over a green plaza. The design is strictly geometric, although it leaves a wild, unexpected impression from first glance. Occupancy is expected at the magic pyramid — er, building — in the spring of 2015.


Charles Gwathmey's Astor Place Tower at 445 Lafayette Street

Astor Place Tower at 445 Lafayette Street by Charles Gwathmey (Photo: zokuga/Flickr CC)

Architect: Charles Gwathmey
Building: Astor Place Tower at 445 Lafayette Street
Neighborhood: NoHo

When Charles Gwanthmey passed away in 2009, he left behind a massive and impressive collection of work in the city and beyond. One of his most celebrated projects was his renovation of the Guggenheim Museum in 1992. He also designed the Museum of Moving Image in Queens and taught architecture at both Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and Cooper Union. He designed the distinct residential building at 445 Lafayette Avenue over Astor Place. It’s a 21-story, 39-unit condo building with a blue-tinted, curving glass facade. Interiors feature high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. Currently there are two units for sale, a penthouse unit asking $15.825 million and a three bedroom asking $4.5 million.

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