10 Architectural Highlights In New York

by | 10. Jul 2014


Lower Manhattan at dusk. Photo © Andrew Prokos

New York, a city of soaring skyscrapers and the posterchild of Western capitalism. The city sports some of modern civilization’s crowning structural achievements, such as the emblematic Art Deco-style Chrysler Building, Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building and possibly the world’s most famous skyscraper, the Empire State Building. 

Economic pragmatism is what has shaped the city since its inception. In 1811, New York introduced a visionary urban scheme for the upper part of Manhattan with a street grid of 12 numbered avenues running north and south and 155 orthogonal crossing streets. The plan was based on the economic logic that the grid’s regularity would provide more efficient means to develop new real estate property.

You might think that you have New York pegged down when walking the skyscraper-lined streets of Midtown Manhattan, but this bouyant city will never become monotonous, as proved by the growing list of contemporary landmarks that add to the city’s increasingly complex urban fabric.

The Hearst Tower by Norman Foster in Midtown Manhattan is a reimagined sustainable skyscraper of glass and steel that looks like a jewel encrusted in the base of the original 1920s Hearst Corporation Building. On 8 Spruce Street on Lower Manhattan, Frank Gehry has recently made his distinct mark on the city with his contorting skyscraper dubbed New York by Gehry.

Elsewhere, the typically monolithic building – so closely associated with the city – is broken down and reassembled, for instance at Morphosis’ 41 Cooper Square and SANAA’s New Museum and Snøhetta’s recently completed 9/11 memorial museum pavilion.

New York by Gehry
Gehry Partners, LLP

WTC Pavilion

41 Cooper Square exterior facade Photo © Iwan Baan
41 Cooper Square

New Museum

The Brasserie
Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Hearst Tower by Norman Foster & Partners in New York, USA Photo: Chuck Choi
Hearst Tower
Norman Foster & Partners

The Bronx Museum of the Arts by Arquitectonica exterior facade Photos © Norman McGrath, courtesy Arquitectonica
The Bronx Museum of the Arts

Milstein Hall by OMA in Ithaca, New York, USA. Street view. Photo: Iwan Baan
Milstein Hall

The Morgan Library
Renzo Piano

The New York Times Building
Renzo Piano


New York is a city not short of hotels. If you’d like to stay in an architectural landmark, there are plenty to chose from. Go for the Benjamin for a taste of late-1920s Art Deco design and if you are more into the city’s 1960s folk music scene, you should head for the 19th century brownstone, Chelsea Hotel, immortalized by Leonard Cohen and Janis Joplin in their eponymous 1970 ballad.

If you are looking for a place to stay that is slightly more contemporary, while still being out of the ordinary, you should try either the Wythe Hotel or the NoMad.