121 East 22nd Street by OMA. Rendering by Encore. Image courtesy of OMA

Look at OMA's first NYC apartment block

Flawless floor-to-ceiling windows form part of Rem Koolhaas’ practice’s debut Manhattan apartment tower

Rem Koolhaas’s OMA practice is to build its first residential tower in New York. The firm’s local office, headed up by Shohei Shigematsu, is behind this glass corner building in Manhattan.

The site earmarked is at 121 East 22nd Street between the Grammercy Park neighbourhood and Madison Square. Developer Toll Brothers City Living is promising 133 units from studios to five-bedroom condominiums, with “diverse layouts, contemporary aesthetics, and a full suite of luxury amenities.”

The Toll Brothers have a track record or working with internationally acclaimed architects. Their upcoming scheme at 400 Park Avenue South in Manhattan’s NoMad district is by French Pritzker Prize-winner Christian de Portzamparc.

Shigematsu has filled the L-shaped site with a glazed block – some of it conventional windows and the corner element as a prism. “Punched windows echoing the façade of its pre-war neighbours seamlessly transition to contemporary, floor-to-ceiling glazed windows towards the corner, forming a gradient from historic to modern,” he says.

At the roof level of the neighbouring buildings, OMA’s condo tower will be set back, giving the illusion from ground level that the new addition is the same height.

Shigematsu, who joined OMA in 1998, has led the New York office since 2006 and was made a partner in two years later. So he was around when the firm designed a previous 60-storey residential tower nearly a decade ago for 23 East 22nd Street. That scheme, for Slazer Enterprises, rose to 355 ft., but seems to have been ditched in favour of another architects’ proposal.

Let’s hope this one can welcome in some new residents in a couple of years’ time; the scheduled completion date is sometime in 2018.

For more contemporary architecture outside the big cities, get Elemental Living; for more on wild residential architecture, get Jutaku; and for more on contemporary city life, get Living in the Endless City.