Today, Brookfield Properties and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) mark the formal opening of Manhattan West, a dynamic, mixed-use neighborhood in the heart of New York City’s Far West Side. The development, first conceived in the 1990s, transforms the underutilized space above active rail lines into a vital new destination and forms the crucial missing link in a chain of pedestrian pathways that tie the West Side together.
Manhattan West encompasses seven million square feet of retail, office, residential, and hospitality space in six buildings. Three were designed by SOM — One and Two Manhattan West and the Pendry Hotel — and all but the Eugene residences were engineered by SOM. The development is organized around a series of dynamic public spaces designed in collaboration with landscape architect James Corner Field Operations and enabled by the engineering of a 2.6-acre platform above tracks leading to Penn Station. Lined with a combined 225,000 square feet of retail, the central plaza offers a vibrant new gathering space for residents, office workers, and travelers from the station.
“This development knits the city together,” said Partner Kenneth A. Lewis. “It completes the pedestrian pathway that begins at Penn Station and runs west to the Hudson River. With the public spaces at Manhattan West now open, this urban corridor will bring new life to the Far West Side and form the spine of a vital, growing neighborhood.”
It is a neighborhood SOM has played an integral role in designing, from the East End Gateway on Seventh Avenue, to the transformation of the James A. Farley Post Office into Moynihan Train Hall, to the design of 35 Hudson Yards to the west. Together, these projects mark a series of milestones in the decades-long effort to transform the Far West Side – and bring a new urban district to life.
“Manhattan West is the realization of Brookfield Properties’ long-standing vision to develop a neighborhood that weaves together the urban fabric of the city’s West Side and offer visitors a destination brimming with discovery,” said Sabrina Kanner, Executive Vice President, Development, Design & Construction, Brookfield Properties. “At the center of what we do is design spaces and experiences for people, from our 2.5-acre pedestrian plaza to year-round free, public programming to a diverse array of culinary concepts and immersive retail shops. We are incredibly proud to introduce Manhattan West and continue to contribute to the boundless vibrancy of this great city.”
As commuters, pedestrians, and residents pass through the neighborhood from the east, One and Two Manhattan West – two office towers designed and engineered by SOM – will mark their entry into the site. Clad in high-performance glass, the two-million-square-foot, LEED-Gold-targeting skyscrapers accentuate a soft, graceful simplicity that reflects the sky. “These two towers work in tandem to form a gateway to Manhattan West,” said Director Kim Van Holsbeke. “Their curving profiles offer an elegant addition to the city’s skyline and announce the creation of a thriving new neighborhood.”
The distinct structure of the two towers is celebrated through transparent lobbies that seamlessly integrate with the surrounding public space and illustrate the complex structural engineering underlying the design. “Each tower effortlessly comes to the ground while navigating the tracks below in distinct and efficient ways that inform the architecture,” said Structural Engineering Director Charles Besjak. “At One Manhattan West we eliminated all columns and relied solely on a central core, and at Two Manhattan West we organized just six mega-columns.”
“Engineering two 1,000-foot-tall towers over the busiest railroad tracks in North America without disrupting rail traffic is a structural feat of enormous complexity,” added Structural Engineering Director Preetam Biswas.
Beyond the office towers, Manhattan West is a 24/7 hub of activity. The 23-story Pendry and the 62-story Eugene bring hospitality and luxury residences, respectively, to the site. The SOM-designed Pendry – comprising 164 guest rooms and suites – is characterized by a dramatic, undulating glass-and-granite facade that gives the 23-story boutique hotel an outsize visual impact within the development. Beyond giving the building a distinctive identity, this innovative facade design provides sustainability benefits and subtly indicates the building’s role as a hotel: the convex glass curves of the glass become a contemporary take on the bay window, which allow each of the guest rooms panoramic views of the surrounding city.
The Eugene, an 844-unit residential tower that was designed in collaboration with SLCE Architects, integrates a crucial outdoor link between 31st Street and elevated outdoor space connecting to central plaza. The development is further enhanced by the renovation of two former industrial buildings – Five Manhattan West, for which SOM provided structural engineering services, and the 1913 Lofts building – into contemporary office space.
As part of the adaptive reuse of Five Manhattan West, SOM engineers — working with architects at REX — performed significant structural modifications to transform the building’s interior and facade while improving its energy performance. On the south side of the building, an elevated breezeway and passage was carved out to extend Manhattan West’s public space to Tenth Avenue – providing a view corridor to the High Line and linking Manhattan West to Hudson Yards.
The Lofts, Five Manhattan West, the Eugene, and the Pendry Hotel are now fully open. One Manhattan West opened in 2019, and construction on Two Manhattan West is anticipated to conclude in 2023. Next year, a new, elevated pedestrian pathway linking Manhattan West’s public space to the High Line – designed by SOM and developed by Brookfield Properties, Empire State Development, and Friends of the High Line – will also be constructed to create a seamless connection from Penn Station south to Chelsea.