Raymond Sova

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 12-2015




architecture, manhattan, high rise, slenderness, renderings, fanciful




Architectural History and Criticism | Architectural Technology | Construction Engineering | Other Architecture | Urban, Community and Regional Planning


Manhattan’s real estate market since the turn of the 20th century to present day can be characterized as an extreme optimization of the economical elements of architecture. Most of the buildings in Manhattan’s diverse and complex skyline share a tenacious desire to maximize the profitability and feasibility of a site while minimizing overall building expenditure. This concept is defined in Koolhaas’s ‘Delirious New York,’ as the relationship between “the Needle” and “the Globe.” Seemingly immeasurable wealth and investment have given rise to a new sub-typology of super-tall strikingly skinny (Slim) residential skyscrapers that may very well result in the demise of Manhattan’s real estate market. In relation to the writing of Koolhaas, Slimness can be characterized as the epitome of “the Needle.” The emergence of Slimness in Manhattan is evidence that a typological paradigm shift is currently in motion. In a much broader sense, Slimness is bringing to light just how much control finance exercises over architecture in all aspects of the architectural profession. Slimness is proving that high-rise architecture in Manhattan is becoming increasingly oppressed as a result of the developer driven mindset operating within the “confines” of New York City’s negligent real estate policies. If left unchecked, this oppression will inevitably worsen until finance ruptures the urban tissue of Manhattan beyond all repair.

The sudden emergence and rapid proliferation of Slim condo towers within the context of Midtown Manhattan are of specific interest to this thesis exploration. Their apparent disregard for any unintentional or intentional consequence have become critical points of departure for research, speculation, and intervention. This work also serves a commentary on how Slimness is representative of an extreme exploitation of the inherently flawed relationship between finance and architecture. This thesis contends that Slimness is exploiting architecture to a point where it is driven solely by finance, and consequentially is formally, socially, politically, economically, and environmentally irresponsible. In order to both analyze and criticize the polemical discussion that Slimness has brought into focus, a series of ironic and speculative scenarios are proposed within the context of the financial dystopia that Manhattan may someday become. The context of this thesis is Midtown Manhattan, specifically along W 57th Street, also known as “billionaire’s row.”

The body of work that will comprise this thesis begins with a series of fantastical renderings that have formally and programmatically tampered with the existing structure of 432 Park Avenue. These wildly fanciful renderings are then paired with a series of hyper-real architectural drawings and models that will attempt to illustrate an architectural exposé depicting the true nature of Slimness as it exists today. The goal of this thesis is not to propose solutions for the issues that Slimness perpetuates, but rather to evaluate them from a polemical point of view, and to exaggerate them to a point where they become playfully obvious.


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