170 Amsterdam: A treehouse in NYC’s concrete jungle


An exoskeleton makes this building stand out to fit in


A building on the Upper West Side in New York strikes a unique pose with a cage-like exoskeleton design.

Handel Architects was given the challenge to maximise a long, narrow site at 170 Amsterdam 68th street, where the client did not want a conventional all-glass building desired the benefits of large window without compromising energy efficiency.

170 Amsterdam Avenue

Photo credit: Bruce Damonte

A concrete exoskeleton encases the 56.5m glass façade, continuing up and over the top floor to produce a canopy for the roof areas.

From the interior it may appear as if residents' views would be hindered by the exoskeleton, however speaking with the project's principal-in-charge at Handel Architects, Frank Fusaro, it actually enhances the residents' experience.

'If the columns were part of a more conventional wall system that portion of the facade would have been blanked out and no view provided. 170 Amsterdam's exoskeleton provides glass where there would have been solid wall and lets you see through and around the columns.'

170 amsterdam

Photo credit: Bruce Damonte

Looking out from inside it feels as if you're in a treehouse with the giant 'branches' wrapping the edifice, carrying through the interior of the building - piercing the floors and walls of the lobby, common rooms and corridors - and spurting out of the ground.

170 amsterdam

Photo credit: Bruce Damonte

The building resides between Central Park to its east and the landscaped open space of the Lincoln Towers superblocks to the west. The bold structure enriched by the concrete exoskeleton - that appears like limestone - falls into step with the surrounding muscular buildings making up lower Amsterdam Avenue, Lincoln Centre and the Upper West Side.

170 Amsterdam

Photo credit: Bruce Damonte

To achieve its limestone appearance the exoskeleton has been crafted with a specialised concrete blend using a dense, high fluid self-consolidating mix that incorporated grey cement and slag to accomplish a light grey finish and meet LEED standards. The formwork to create the criss-crossing, rounded structure involved using an intricate fibreglass system with multiple units that were tightly connected together to attain maximum reuse and economy.

170 amsterdam

Photo credit: Bruce Damonte

The system was designed to allow a pump-placing tube to be inserted into the crosses shapes, meaning the final surface finish was smooth and consistent. A small aggregate mixture enabled the concrete to be placed into the blind areas of the formwork with no vibration.

170 amsterdam

Photo credit: Bruce Damonte

With a nod to the surrounding architecture in the neighbourhood, 170 Amsterdam holds its own as an inimitable and prominent new building on the block.

170 Amsterdam

Photo credit: Bruce Damonte

Project details:

Floor Area: 21,235 m2
Height: 56.5m, 20 stories + cellar
Client: Equity Residential
Architect: Handel Architects:
Partner in Charge/Design Partner; Frank Fusaro
Managing Partner: Gary Handel
Project Manager: Honyi Wang
Design Team: Alan Noah-Navarro, Ade Herkarisma, Elga Killinger, Shridhuli Solanki, Rinaldo Perez, Ren Zhong Huang, Jessica Kuo, Jordan Young, Shujian Jian, Hong Min Kim, Evelina Averyanova, Nasiq Khan, Lucas Chung, Chris Deegan, Ana Untiveros-Ferrel, Malachi Connolly Jason Hill, Stephanie Harroch
Structure: DeSimone Consulting Engineers
MEP/FP/Sustainability: ADS Consulting
Lighting: Clinard Design Studio
Zoning: Development Consulting Services
Exterior Wall: IBA Consulting & Engineering
Geotechnical / Civil: Langan Engineering
Code: Milrose Consultants
Acoustics: Shen Milsom Wilke
Vertical Transportation: VDA
Landscape: Blondie's Treehouse
Concrete Consultant: Reginald Hough Associates
Construction Manager: Ryder Construction
Concrete Contractor: RC Structure
Formwork Contractor: Molded Fiber Glass CP
Construction: January 2013 - June 2015
Status: Complete June 2015

Read more:

The Rolling Stones: Exhibitionism

3D-printed shin guards set to advance sports design

Sou Fujimoto creates 'Forest of Light' for Salone del Mobile 2016





Working on something exciting? Submit your project to Design Curial.

Submit project to DesignCurial



Compelo Ltd Registered Office: John Carpenter House, John Carpenter Street, EC4Y 0AN, England. No: 06339167.Copyright 2018 Compelo. All rights reserved.