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There's a new trend afoot in marketing new development properties with unit prices in the stratosphere: silence. Details are hoarded, each succulent description released one at a time, followed by more silence. Prices are posted before amenities. Brokers won't speak on the record, developers comment with "no comment," interior designers play hard to get.

One new development with apartments at if-you-have-to-ask-you-can't-afford-it prices has been pioneering the silence-is-golden marketing strategy.

Nicknamed the "Steinway Tower," the thinnest residential skyscraper in the world to date rises on Billionaires' Row. Designed by SHoP Architects and developed by JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group, 111 West 57th Street seamlessly marries classic architecture with futuristic design. Soaring to over 1,400 feet on eighty floors, Steinway Tower will unseat 432 Park Avenue as the highest residential tower in New York City (slipping into 7th place worldwide) and Hong Kong's Highcliff Apartments as the thinnest residential skyscraper in the world.

At only 58-feet wide, the record breaking lies in its height to width aspect ratio. An aspect ratio in architecture is defined as the ratio of the longest dimension of the building to the narrowest dimension. An aspect ratio of 1.0 represents a square building footprint. Structural engineers consider a ratio greater than 1:10 to be very slender.


To further put this in perspective, the Sky House (11 E. 29th Street) has a ratio of 1:13One Madison (23 E. 22nd Street) is 1:18. The previous holder of the Skinniest Skyscraper title is Hong Kong's Highcliff Apartments with a ratio of 1:20. Steinway Tower surpasses that record with an aspect ratio of 1:24.

The slender shape of the tower aims to define "a new relationship with the sky," says Simon Koster of JDS Development Group. "It needed to be worthy of New York City."
So why isn't everybody and their brother crowing about this record from the (lower) rooftops of their headquarters? In a city where real estate porn viewing is commonplace, the people in charge seem to be following the old-fashioned etiquette adage, "Ladies, leave something to the imagination."

This is what we do know: plans call for 46 apartments in the Tower that will go on the market from $16 million. Each apartment will claim an entire floor. Residences in the revamped Steinway Hall will be priced lower with studios starting at around $1 million.

The stepped tower will present an unusual feathered facade through the use of a terra-cotta and brass filigree grill over the east and west glass curtain walls. The clear glass of the north facade will take advantage of unobstructed Central Park views. Reminiscent of art deco ornamentation, the terra cotta and brass filigree "feathers" streaking up two sides of the glass tower create a unique melding of the opulent past and the space age future.
A model of the building facade A model of the building facade
Inside, the very elite residents lucky enough to be able to afford the $8,000 per square foot price tag will be living in homes reminiscent of the space station in the movie "Elysium," looking down over the little people down on what IMBD calls the "overpopulated, ruined Earth." Specifics of the extravagant interiors by Studio Sofield are scarce, but the few details that have been released are aimed to impress. Picture giant urns in the lobby carved from rock crystal, hand-cast architectural doorknobs and switch plates, medical pods that can cure all diseases. (Okay, that last bit's from the movie.)

Renderings of the interiors reveal classic yet minimalist, elegant rooms in muted palettes with trey ceilings and walls of windows overlooking panoramic views of the park. William Sofield, head of the luxury interior design firm Studio Sofield, cited "tubs carved out of solid blocks of alabaster, end-grain marquetry floors, and lots of fluted glass" in an Architectural Digest interview. P. E. Guerin, the oldest decorative hardware company in the country (and the only metal foundry left in New York City), is manufacturing all the hardware.

The base of the tower will be integrated into a courtyard that wraps around the existing landmarked Steinway Building. Designed in 1925 by Warren & Wetmore, the same architects who created Grand Central Station, the showroom featured a grand Beaux Arts rotunda, a frescoed ceiling, and lots of imported Italian marble. The rotunda space of Steinway's main showroom will be restored -- minus the pianos, which have been at home on 57th Street for 91 years. Steinway is moving to a 1970s office building in midtown with a planned showroom designed by Annabelle Selldorf, the architect who transformed a 1914 Carrere & Building into the Neue Galerie at 1048 Fifth Avenue.
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The slender shape of the tower aims to define "a new relationship with the sky," says Simon Koster of JDS Development Group. "It needed to be worthy of New York City. It fundamentally had to be a New York building. It couldn't be in Dubai or Shanghai or Mumbai... We have an extraordinary tradition here in terms of verticality, and we wanted to add to that tradition." The thin, piercing silhouette first appeared in midtown business buildings, such as the Chrysler Building, and a "sense of setback in terms of meeting the sky in a certain way." The 20th-century saw the advent of the residential skyscraper. The goal of the Steinway Tower is to introduce this slender, stepped form back into the sky in a 21st-century manifestation.

The only word from the exclusive sales agent, Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, appears on their website -- and it's a mouthful. Referring to the building's location as "centered" on Central Park, it "places the park's natural beauty into the kind of linear perspective celebrated by the great artists and architects of the Renaissance."
The building rendered in context within a Google Maps view The building rendered in context within a Google Maps view
Whether Manhattan needs more buildings that cater to the uber-wealthy is debatable. Regardless, previews of the classic yet futuristic tower reveal what promises to become an architectural landmark, transforming the ubiquitous sterile glass box design of so many high rises into a work of art that straddles New York's storied past and its future. With completion slated for 2018, for now we'll just have to be satisfied by the anticipation.
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Additional Info About the Building

Contributing Writer Jillian Blume Jillian Blume is a New York City based writer who has published articles widely in magazines, newspapers, and online. Publications include the New York Observer, Marie Claire, Self, MSN Living, Ocean Home, and Ladies Home Journal. Jillian received a master's degree in Creative Writing from New York University and teaches writing, critical reading, and literature at Berkeley College.
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