Inside the Vision Machine

Last week, I got a personal tour of 100 11th Avenue from Francois Leininger of Atelier Jean Nouvel and Jack Beyer of Beyer Blinder Belle (thanks, guys!). Inside, I got a chance to see a few apartments including one that Mr. Nouvel lived in while he was in town working out design and construction issues (one in which he made many sketches on the walls and lightly furnished). Another highlight for me was the dreamy 1/10+ acre full-floor penthouse.

One interesting anecdote concerned the design and construction of the facade, the most intricately complex yet attempted by Nouvel. It may be difficult to discern, but each uniquely patterned panel consists of 3 different types of window colors. Each panel is one story x 37 feet. Why 37 feet? Because that was the largest size that would fit in a shipping container, of course. Due to cost considerations, the panels were fabricated in China and shipped to New York City (and yes, a few did break in transit).

From the exterior, the tilted, colored panes within each panel throw light and color in different directions. They reflect the sky, the sun, the Hudson, and even the surrounding buildings, such as Frank Gehry's IAC Building. The effect is unique, and something I've never experienced in this way from a building. The interplay of reflections between 100 and IAC is quite striking, as you can see in the photo above. Nouvel and Gehry are friends and fellow Pritzker Laureates. Francois conveyed that it was quite important for Nouvel to not only create his own work of art but also to flatter the adjacent Gehry building. It was refreshing to hear that Nouvel was interested in complimenting rather than outshining his neighbor.

Inside 100, the spaces are amazing and the views are breathtaking--as was expected! It was very difficult to keep my jaw off the floor. Now that the economy has taken a hit, who knows how long it will be before we see another residential project this ambitious.

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