Architecture People & Places


8 Spruce Street Wins Skyscraper Award

8 Spruce Street, by Frank Gehry, has received the 2011 Emporis Skyscraper Award. The building is located just a few blocks from the Woolworth Building (shown in backdrop) and the western end of the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo: Roberto Ventre
The 76-story luxury residential tower at 8 Spruce Street in New York City is the recipient of the 2011 Emporis Skyscraper Award. The first skyscraper designed by architect Frank Gehry, the 870-foot-tall (265-meter-tall) building's surface is clad in over 10,000 rippling stainless steel panels.

The slender T-plan tower, originally known as The Beekman, now being vigorously promoted by its owners as "New York by Gehry"or "New York by Gehry at 8 Spruce Street" stands atop an unremarkable, new-built five-story orange-brick base that occupies the full site footprint, with a generally indifferent street-level presence.

ArchitectureWeek contributing editor Michael Crosbie described 8 Spruce Street as "an arresting cliff of contorted stainless steel," and called the anomalous south facade "as smooth and somber as a parson's face on Sunday morning."  Photo: Michael J. Crosbie

The main occupant of the building base is the Spruce Street School, which presently accommodates grades Pre-K through 3, with future growth anticipated to include up to grade 8. Retail space and offices are also included in the podium.

Meanwhile, the tower itself contains the building's residential piece, including 903 apartments, as well as common and support spaces. Standard units range in size from studio apartments to three-bedroom, three-bath units, with rents currently ranging from $3,350 to $11,250 per month. Penthouse units come in three- and four-bedroom configurations.

The top of the tower, seen under construction in May 2010. Photo: David Owen/ Artifice Images
The building's structure comprises a straight-forward cast-in-place concrete system, which allows for level-by-level variation in the moderately cantilevered floor slabs, supporting the building's visually dramatic, but technologically relatively-straightforward, textured steel facade. (There are far more compelling examples of Gehry's signature curving metal style.)

Despite its street-level presence, some critics have gushed over Gehry's addition to the New York skyline. In "Downtown Skyscraper for the Digital Age" (February 9, 2011), New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff  wrote:
"Only now, as the building nears completion, is it possible to appreciate what Mr. Gehry has accomplished: the finest skyscraper to rise in New York since Eero Saarinen's CBS building went up 46 years ago. And like that tower, and Philip Johnson’s AT&T Building after it, 8 Spruce Street seems to crystallize a particular moment in cultural history, in this case the turning point from the modern to the digital age.
Construction of the building began in 2006 and was completed in 2011.

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