Author : Gabriel Mihalea

University : University of Architecture and Urban Planning “Ion Mincu”

Status : BArch, 2013

Advisor : Dr. Dorin Stefan

Title : New York High Rise Hybrid

The site: Hudson Yards Westside Railroads;  situated on one of the most vital corridor links of all of Manhattan – the New Jersey railroad.

The existing situation of the surrounding area is characterized by multi-functionality; there are three separately functioning areas on the adjacent sides of the Hudson Yards: residential, commercial, and industrial. The diversification in typologies of the existing buildings within this dense area, exhumes 19th century row buildings, along with the “alphabet” buildings and setback towers. Therefore resulting in a mixture of typologies generating a process of hybridization. In respect to the context, the site poses as the perfect layout for experimentation of hybrid architecture applicable to a high rise building pertaining to commercial, cultural and educational activities in which contain offices, housing, which are linked through public spaces/interaction.


One  building in particular influenced a way to rethink the high rise in manhattan, even more so the public plaza assembly initiated by modernist tower and plaza of the Seagram Building. More specifically the podium in relationship to the tower of the Seagram Building acts as a connection pod, a common urban element in Manhattan which links two buildings, above street level, in re-connecting conditions known as “neighboring islands.” This inhabitable spatial-connector also provides a rare opportunity to see beyond the depths of Manhattan’s sprawl of high-rises. In fact, a sightseeing platform, allowing the public to view such moments as the view of the world famous Empire State Building.

The extended link of public space(s) are positioned in a cycle, an infinite loop, with no beginning and no end, an open-ended invitation for the public to circulate through – furthermore, a coagulated public space in relation to the pedestrian path.

This continuous loop also introduces a series of activities, commercial, living, and cultural entities, ultimately giving rise to a process of hybridization within the urban island.


An important feature of any tall building, especially in Manhattan where a dense array of vertical entities living among one another, is the object identity. This building will earn its identity through not only through its hybridized typology, but through its innovative exterior. The aesthetics will be heavily influenced by the kinetic double-skin facade, which in itself serves a dual purpose: on the one side it gives a sustainable solution for natural air ventilation and sun control of the interior spaces within the tower, but on the other side it creates a dynamic architectural expression, granting the building the potential to generate different facades within every hour in the day.

In addition to the experiential qualities, the plaza is based on using water as a fundamental element that animates the entire public space. The volume of water is pierced by the main axis which brings people from the public streetscape to and above the secondary axis.  Eventually uniting the two blocks underneath the plinth with the plaza.

The design and orientation of the plaza has two objectives to accomplish:

1- Establish a visual connection from the pedestrian walkway to the underground infrastructure through the translucent floor.

2- Bring light through the transparent floor of the water tanks to the underground railways.