Architecture News | International High Rise Award

Every two years, the City of Frankfurt, in conjunction with the German Architecture Museum, awards the International Highrise Award. Winners are chosen based on the structure’s exemplary sustainability, external shape, and internal spatial and social qualities.

 What the Award Signifies

This prestigious award recognizes outstanding innovation in design and building technology, integration into the urban landscape, and functionality, sustainability and cost-effectiveness in the construction of tall buildings. It is unique because it acknowledges the collaboration between architects and developers that can result in outstanding modern buildings. It awards projects that are architectural achievements and also enhance the lives of the people in and around them.

2016 Award – VIA 57 West

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Image courtesy

The International Highrise Award has been bestowed seven times since 2004, and this year, New York’s residential high-rise VIA 57 West was the honored recipient.

This unusual “courtscraper,” envisioned by the architectural firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) and built by The Durst Organization, faced many site challenges.

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The site, in Hell’s Kitchen, is bound on four sides by problematic constraints:

  • To the west, the site is separated from the Hudson River by a multilane highway.
  • To the north, there’s a historical electricity plant.
  • To the south, a newly built waste-sorting center creates noise and odors.
  • To the east stands a conventional 130-meter-high residential tower, and its view of the Hudson River could not be obstructed.

The architects responded with a building that rises from three low corners to one high point, transitioning between the low-rise structures in the south and the high-rises in the north. Their solution to preserving the view of the nearby tower was to incorporate a courtyard that also brings afternoon sun deep into the building and extends the greenery of the adjacent Hudson River Park.

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When presenting the award, architecture critic and curator Bart Lootsma described the foundational basis of BIG’s design this way: “The quality of the projects by Bjarke Ingels and BIG in large part does not stem from the way they look, but rather from how they are created and what they achieve.” The defining achievement of VIA 57 West is its unparalleled blending of a stunning high-density building with human elements that encourage interaction between residents and passersby.