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A blog from CityRealty (Links below will take you to the 6sqft site)

Carter's View

The Freedom Tower at the former World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan near the Hudson River has generated enormous controversy in its various incarnations, but the planned residential and cultural center tower at 80 South Street near the East River designed by Santiago Calatrava has generated widespread acclaim and enormous anticipation.

This weekend a website for the impressive, high-tech, Modernist project went up on the Internet with some details about it including the fact that "the rare opportunity" to purchase one of its ten "townhouse" condominiums in the sky "begins at 29M."

A vertical, staggered stack of twelve four-story "townhouse" cubes with mostly glass facades, the tower, which is being developed by the Sciame Construction Company, promises to be the city's most radical skyscraper. Rising 835 feet, the houses are cantilevered from the building's center core and are braced by two thin columns and one large column with slim, angled supports. The four-story "cubes" will have 10,000-square-feet of interior space, views in four directions and have roof gardens on the tops of the cube beneath them. A mast above the top "townhouse" will rise to a height of 1,000 feet. The base of the tower will be a 90-foot-high, 60,000-square-foot cultural center. It is just a few blocks south of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The design was first produced by Mr. Calatrava in 1985 in one of his sculptures and it is related to his recently completed "Turning Torso" building in Malmo, Sweden, a 635-foot-high apartment and office tower that is broken into nine, stacked, 6-story boxes that twist as they rise.

Calatrava is widely recognized as one of the world's greatest structural designers. In New York, he has also designed the World Trade Center transportation hub on which construction has just begun.

As Nicholai Ouroussoff correctly noted in a September 5, 2004 article in The New York Times, the 80 South Street tower's design is "reminiscent of a well-known proposal from the 1970's, the Japanese Metabolist towers, never built, in which entire housing blocks sprouted out of vertical columns like the branches of a tree."

Mr. Ouroussoff's predecessor at the newspaper's architecture critic, Herbert Muschamp, had described the tower in a March 3, 2005 article as "effervescent, lighter than air," adding that "its impact on the skyline is likely to be profound."

In 1992, Mr. Calatrava, who was born in Spain, won the competition to complete the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, but that project ran into financing difficulties. Earlier this year, he was awarded the gold medal of the American Institute of Architects and in July, Mr. Calatrava's design for a twisting, 2,000-foot-high skyscraper in Chicago was unveiled. Next month, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will open an exhibition of his architecture designs, sculpture, watercolors and drawings.

The only other architect who is probably as famous as Mr. Calatrava is Frank O. Gehry, whose design for a 75-story mixed-use tower a few blocks to the north and west for Forest City Ratner on Beekman Street has yet to released.

The Calatrava tower will replace a six-story, red-brick building that is the headquarters of Sciame Development and the F. J. Sciame Construction Company.

The development's website maintains that "With World-Class design and rooms reaching fifty feet across with soaring double-height ceilings, Eighty South Street is the ultimate waterfront address, with the ultimate waterfront views." The building, it maintained, will have "concierge-level services and amenities, an attentive 24-four Full Staff and State of the Art Security will cater to every need."

The central core of the tower will have three elevators and each "cube" will have its own elevator.
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Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.