This Pencil-Thin Tower Sets a New Bar for Skinny High-Rises


305 East 44th Street

Both 432 Park Avenue and 111 W. 57th Street in New York City hit the reset button on the notion of what a residential building could look like. These new and rising towers are pinnacles of urban infill development: super-tall, super-skinny projects whose slim footprints were never considered for high-rises before the current building boom.

When it is completed, 111 W. 57th Street, designed by SHoP Architects, will be just slightly more slender than Rafael Viñoly's 432 Park. At its widest, the SHoP-designed tower will be only 58 feet wide. Given that it will also be one of the tallest buildings in New York City, 111 W. 57th Street can lay claim to the title of skinniest skyscraper in the world.

But here comes the asterisk. There's another project coming to Manhattan that's even thinner: 303–305 E. 44th Street, designed by Eran Chen of ODA Architecture.

303–305 E. 44th Street, designed by Eran Chen of ODA Architecture (ODA New York)

At 47 feet wide, this one's the narrowest of the bunch. Developed by Triangle Assets, the tower will rise about 600 feet high, creating 115,000 square feet of residential space.

The building appears to be an early indication of how the super-tall typology can be adapted for a neighborhood with a slightly less heady real-estate market. The design for 305 E. 44th is predicated on a stack of volumes; nested between them are the project's signature amenities, private gardens.

Garden 2.jpg

This ODA building can't compete with 111 W. 57th Street on its width-to-height ratio: At 1,428 feet tall, the SHoP building has an extreme slenderness ratio of about 1:24. Which is just slightly taller and thinner than 432 Park.

But New York can expect to see more projects that look like 305 E. 44th Street. The city is filled with narrow lots that are prime for infill development but don't quite command the luxury residential prices of Midtown near Central Park. It may nevertheless prove profitable—and possible—to build even narrower and taller on these lots to achiever greater density. That's at least a possibility.