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SHARON MCHUGH
Sharon McHugh is an architect and regular contributor to World Architecture News, Abitare and Competitions magazine. She is a professor at Temple University, a recipient of the Young Architects Award from the Architectural League of New York, a PA Award-winner, and the recipient of several AIA NJ Design Awards.
Manhattan is a veritable museum of world architecture. And it only gets better this year. 2007 saw the rise of many stunning world-class buildings in the Big Apple. But the big story is the number of sweeping development proposals afoot, which, if realized, will dramatically transform the neighborhoods in which they are situated.
 

The West Side of Manhattan is transforming at both ends. At the Southernmost end, in Lower Manhattan, the World Trade Center project is moving along, but at a snails pace. This year saw mostly minor changes at the site, construction delays and a fire. Larry Silverstein’s WTC Towers 2,3, and 4, designed respectively by Foster, Rogers and Maki, are moving ahead but the projects’ construction schedules have been hampered by redesigns, security concerns, financing problems and political jockeying. WTC 5, a new tower designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox as a headquarters for J.P. Morgan Chase, has also been delayed. WTC 5 is to be built on the site of the former Deutsche Bank building, the demolition of which has been delayed due to a fire that broke out in the building late this year. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has been busy finding ways to trim project costs. One of the projects affected is Calatrava’s Transit Hub. Happily that project will not have its wings clipped. The iconic wingspan element that is to open and close will be kept. But Libeskind’s Freedom Tower may not be that fortunate. The project may loose its antenna, which would mean it would have to find another way to reach its 1776 feet height which coincides with America’s founding.

The West Side promises to get a lot greener next year with the development of the High Line, an elevated railway that runs 1.4 miles from Chelsea to Mid-town.

Designed by Field Operations and Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, the abandoned viaduct will become a 22- block linear park that will bring the ‘High Life’ to the High Line. The project, which will see a partial completion in 2008, has already spurred development along its borders. Twenty-seven luxury condo buildings and some upscale hotels are in various stages of development along the High Line. Architects with projects in the works there include, Frank Gehry, who designed the InterActiveCorp building for media mogul Barry Diller; Jean Nouvel, whose sell out ‘Vision Machine’ residential tower is under construction; Shigeru Ban, whose Metal Shutter Houses are under construction; and projects by Annabelle Seldorf, Gwathmey Siegel, and Robert Stern. Some of these projects will have private access to the High Line and some will have the High Line running through them. The southernmost end of the project will be anchored by a new satellite museum for the Whitney Museum of American Art designed by Renzo Piano. But the fate of the project’s Northernmost end between 30th and 33rd is yet to be determined, until the votes are in on the proposals for the Hudson Rail Yards, a 26 acre site owned by the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which is currently entertaining mixed use proposals from five developer/architect teams. If built, that project will move business activity closer to the center.

Not far away from the Hudson Rail Yards is located the Jacob Javits Convention Center . It was hoped that Javits would see a sizeable expansion this year designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. But for

funding reasons a “simpler renovation” project is planned instead. A couple of blocks away in Midtown Manhattan, The New York Times Building, designed by Renzo Piano, recently opened to resounding accolades. It’s notable not just as an eco-friendly building, but as a new skyscraper built from the ground up which doesn’t happen often in Manhattan.

Moving farther North, Harlem is experiencing much gentrification. Robert Stern has designed a new Museum for African Art, and Polshek Partnership is expanding the Museum for the City of New York. But the biggest change, perhaps threat, to Harlem is a scale and character altering 4-block development being proposed by Columbia University for Manhattanville, on Harlem’s west side. With no room to expand at it’s Morningside Heights campus, Columbia University recently unveiled a plan by Renzo Piano that envisions 6.8 million square feet of space housed in transparent towers on tree lined streets. This proposal, which has been met with much resistance from residents, will have its fate determined at year’s end.

On the East side of Manhattan, one of the poorest neighborhoods, the Bowery, got a cutting-edge museum this year designed by Tokyo-based architects Sejima + Nishizawa/SANAA. The seven storey New Museum, which resembles stacked white boxes, is the first museum in the City devoted exclusively to Contemporary Art. While MoMA won’t be seeing an expansion anytime soon, the Museum is poised to get a new neighbor in Jean Nouvel’s Tower Verre.