David Chipperfield Architects Completes Gridded Concrete the Bryant Tower In New York

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Looking at the 34 storeyed high mixed-use high rise, The Bryant, designed by David Chipperfield architects, one might wonder what it is doing amidst the line of other high rises that seemed to be carved out of the beaux-arts movement. The building, in appearance, is unlike most structures adjacent to it, proudly flaunting its scale and simple elements of design according to the architects. Surrounded by historic landmark buildings, it faces the New York Public Library to the north and is situated near the celebrated Beaux-Arts style Knox Building to the east. Considering the requirement of the city of Manhattan and its growing number of luxury apartments, the building comprises a hotel that extends to the 14th floor, with private residences above. 


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The Bryant attempts, in its design, a modern approach to the same traditional tripartite building composition seen in New York towers, comprising of a base, middle, and crown. The base contains 2 double-height floors occupying the full length and width of the plot accommodating two separate lobbies for the hotel and the residences. This goes up to the 4th floor with the grounded street fronts opening up as retail units. The middle of the Tower is confined to a smaller footprint, creating a terrace space with the setback, to be used by the residents and users of the hotel. The body is split into two main purposes, floors 2-15 containing a 230 room boutique hotel and housing 57 residential units till the 34th floor. The rooms provide breathtaking views of the park and the city skyline including the Empire state building on the south.

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Interior image of apartment showing Juliet window leading to Balcony_Simon Menges.jpg

The apartments reflect David Chipperfield’s work through the carefully crafted built-in furnishing to conceal storage spaces and appliances inside that replace most partition walls to create uninterrupted views around the house. Floor to ceiling windows opens onto Juliet balconies which provide views to the north and south while maintaining the grid pattern visible from the outside. The receded crown is unlike most high-rises surrounding the Bryant, yet keeping the overall composition intact. It accommodates penthouses with double heights and colonnaded terraces with a view out to the city and park.

Materials that attempts to blend in the context

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How The Bryant Tower fits with the line of other towers _Simon Menges.jpg

“A contemporary interpretation” is what the firm, David Chipperfield architects describe the 228000 square foot The Bryant tower to bide with the Landmark Preservation commission’s central theme to adhere to the buildings adjacent to it. The classical facades that grace the street include two Beaux-Arts icons: the Main Branch building of the New York Public Library (Carrère and Hastings, 1897–1911), clad in milky Vermont Marble and the Knox Building (John H. Duncan, 1901–1902). Even though the building sits adjoining another eclectic Gothic art deco Americal Radiator Buiding, The Bryant attempts to belong with all these by an expression of mirrored glass and other conspicuous finishes that scream the 80’s. 

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According to the description provided by the firm, The Bryant tower belongs with its neighbours as it contains an amalgamation of aggregates that are identical to those found in the stone varieties that make up the masonry facades of its neighbouring, more classical buildings. David Chipperfield Architects, who have an extensive background in designing buildings sensitive to its environs has attempted this fusion of The Bryant tower using Terrazzo-finished precast concrete panels—an effect achieved with an aggregate of white marble, quartz, and variegated limestone—frame generously sized glazing bays, into which nine-foot-tall floor-to-ceiling windows are set.

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DCA Amidst Manhandled Manhattan?

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The courtscraper designed by BIG amidst other skyscrapers in NY _Ivan Baan

Chipperfield has been plying his trade in the New York Metropolitan area for quite some time now. The Bryant Park Hotel which was designed in the year 2001 lead to the conversion of its charcoal cladded neighbour, the 1924 American Radiator Building. Renovation work of the Takashimaya Building and design of the Valentino fashion house owned Manhattan Flagship Store are some more additions to the firm’s portfolio in NY. The latest addition to this list has been the commission to design a new wing for The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which will house contemporary and modern art.

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The skyscrapers looming over the park_Simon Menges

Boasting some wonderful creations of architecture such as the Guggenheim museum and the recent Bjarke Ingels project on the 57th street, Manhattan has just been outright bland and mediocre. Being one of the smallest but yet the densest boroughs of New York, the city has lacked the freedom of expression and possession of identities by grid building blocks in the recent past in trying to cope with the growing demand of Urban Growth. None of the architectural language written throughout the streetscape of Manhattan belongs to itself, Not the skyscrapers that were originally invented in Chicago, Not the modernist or second-rate classical building. The Bryant, being part of a list of skyscrapers in Manhattan along with some others, design by famous architects like Renzo Piano, Norman Foster, and Alvaro Siza have led to growing concerns regarding the inequality of housing types in the area, and regarding the long shadows, they cast on the Park.


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World Architecture Community. (n.d.). David Chipperfield Architects completes gridded concrete The Bryant tower in New York. [online] Available at: https://worldarchitecture.org/article-links/evpvp/david-chipperfield-architects-completes-gridded-concrete-the-bryant-tower-in-new-york.html [Accessed 22 May 2021].

Dezeen. (2021). David Chipperfield’s completes New York skyscraper The Bryant. [online] Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2021/04/28/david-chipperfields-new-york-the-bryant-completes/ [Accessed 22 May 2021].

ArchDaily. (2021). The Bryant Tower / David Chipperfield Architects. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/960901/the-bryant-apartments-david-chipperfield-architects [Accessed 22 May 2021].

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The Architect’s Newspaper. (2021). New York’s tapering tripartite The Bryant joins the ranks of Beaux-Arts icons. [online] Available at: https://www.archpaper.com/2021/05/facades-the-bryant-tapering-tripartite-composition-joins-beaux-arts-icons/ [Accessed 22 May 2021].

davidchipperfield.com. (n.d.). David Chipperfield Architects – The Bryant. [online] Available at: https://davidchipperfield.com/project/the_bryant [Accessed 22 May 2021].


Darsan Babu, an architect, dreamer and a storyteller who loves to take on challenges and reform perspectives on some days, but sit by the mountain and quote words of Howard Roark on others. Would love to explore all things architecture, educate and shape the Urbanscape soon enough.

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