The Skyscraper Museum
The Skyscraper Museum

The Skyscraper Museum is devoted to the study of high-rise building, past, present, and future. The Museum explores tall buildings as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence. This site will look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.




These two charts, created by The Skyscraper Museum, line up buildings with the highest living spaces (and often prices!) in Manhattan’s competitive environment. Looking at past, present, and future residential towers The Skyscraper Museum compiled a list of the tallest residential skyscrapers in New York City.


Left: Ritz Tower
Right: Waldorf Astoria

The graphic below illustrates the consecutive towers that, when completed, broke the record for New York’s tallest residential building. The towers are color-coded according to their program, with blue for residential, purple for hotel, green for office space, and red for retail. Aside from Trump World Tower and Eight Spruce Street, each building is located near Central Park, confirming the enduring attraction of park views in the luxury life of New York. The graphic also demonstrates the evolution of typologies of high-rise living in the city. The Ritz Tower was built as an “apartment hotel,” a category devised in response to the 1916 zoning laws, which capped the height of residential buildings at 90 feet while allowing commercial buildings, including hotels, to rise much higher. The sumptuous Waldorf Astoria, on the other hand, was built as a traditional hotel, though many wealthy and high-profile guests, including Herbert Hoover and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, maintained permanent residences in the building's towers.

From left: Metropolitan Tower, City Spire, Trump World, 8 Spruce.

The first significant phase in the popularity of high-rise condominium development came in the mid-1980s. This was a period of booming prosperity in financial markets, as well as a time of significant foreign investment in Manhattan real estate.

In condos - as opposed to co-ops, the older, much-favored model of apartment-house development in New York in which there is collective, or "co-operative" ownership of the entire building - people purchase and own their own units outright. From the developer's perspective, erecting a building and selling off the units, rather than renting to tenants and operating the building over the long term, provides a fairly simple math of anticipated costs and profits.

The first successful models of luxury condominium towers that pursued slenderness as a strategy for designing their projects were advanced in the 1980s by three major developers: Donald Trump, Harry Macklowe, and the Zeckendorf family. Their skyscrapers, clustered on 57th and 56th Streets between Fifth Avenue and Columbus Circle, are pictured above: Metropolitan Tower, City Spire, and Trump World.

In 2001, Trump added another sleek glass prism to his portfolio: Trump World Tower, which at 861 ft. became the then-tallest residential building in the city. In order to stretch as high as possible, Trump shrewdly amassed the unused air rights from surrounding buildings, including two brownstones, the Holy Family Church, and the Japan Society. Architect Costas Kondylis designed the tower as a slender slab of with a taut dark curtain wall that projected a minimalist sensibility. The large expanse of glass and overall slenderness resulted in the decision of the engineers WSP Cantor Seinuk to include a tuned mass damper at the top of the tower to counteract sway, the first such application in a residential building.

The tallest residential towers in New York City from 1926 through today.
From left: Ritz Tower (1926), Waldorf Astoria (1931), Metropolitan Tower (1982), City Spire (1987), Trump World Tower (2001), 8 Spruce (2011), One57 (2014), 432 Park (2015) , 111 West 57th Street (2018), Central Park Tower (aka Nordstrom Tower)(2018).                                                                                                      

Slender Skyscrapers

To achieve the sky-high spires’ startling heights and record-shattering sales prices, the towers’ developers combine sophisticated engineering, brand-name designs from world-renowned starchitects, and an "invisible Monopoly game" of assembling contiguous lots and piling up air rights. Together, these strategies form a unique “logic of luxury” – a newly emerged development strategy that taps into an excited market of glob-trotting billionaires who are willing to spend $100+ million for a penthouse-investment with unbeatable Central Park views – and have formed a distinctly new type of skyscraper.

But the question remains: which of these gilded spindles is the tallest? For The Skyscraper Museum’s latest Top Ten list, we have brought together the ten tallest super-slender residential towers in New York City. As each week seems to herald the announcement of another proposed residential skyscraper, our list only includes those towers that both fall into the category of “slender” – generally considered to be a building with a 1:10 or 1:12 base to height ratio – and will be completed by 2018.

The tallest slender residential towers in New York City. Hover over the image to view the highest occupied floor for each building. From left: 520 Park Avenue, 111 Murray Street, 56 Leonard, 30 Park Place, 220 Central Park South, One57, MoMA Tower, 432 Park Avenue, 111 West 57th Street, Central Park Tower.
Click here to view the full list

Tallest Residential Skyscrapers - current or under construction

For this list the Skyscraper Museum included residential skyscrapers that are built or under construction. Buildings currently under construction are included, even if they are in the earliest stages of foundation work. Most of the projects that are currently under construction plan to be completed by 2018. Other very tall projects that have been rumored in the press but as of August 2015 have no definitive design are excluded. To represent the several new projects we are confident will reach a height of around 1,000 feet or taller, we have placed a ? in the line up.

The tallest residential towers in New York City, completed by 2018. From Left: 15 Hudson Yards, 30 Park Place, 220 Central Park South, 70 Pine, One57, 35 Hudson Yards ,MoMA Tower, 432 Park Avenue, 111 West 57th Street, Central Park Tower. Click here to view the full list


10.    15 Hudson Yards

75 fl
Height to Tip: 279 m / 914 ft
Highest Occupied: 258 m / 847 ft
(expected completion 2018)

Since 2001, the City of New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the State of New York have collaborated on a master plan for a 26-acre development site to be built on a platform above the commuter train storage and maintenance yards owned by the MTA-Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). The rail yard is located between West 30th and West 33rd Streets from 10th to 12th Avenues and consists of an eastern portion (Eastern Rail Yard) and western portion (Western Rail Yard), divided by 11th Avenue.

15 Hudson Yards designed by Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with the Rockwell Group, will be the first residential tower built on the site, located in the southwest corner of the Eastern Rail Yard at 30th Street and 11th Avenue across from the High Line at the south-west corner of the Eastern Yard. The tower will feature 385 rental apartments and condominiums. Originally known as Tower D, and nicknamed “the Corset” the skyscraper’s design has been modified to a more simpler design. The base of 15 Hudson Yards will be conjoined with Culture Shed, a new cultural facility currently in development. The Culture Shed will combine visual arts, performing arts and creative industry.

See Hudson Yards in SKY HIGH

9.    30 Park Place     

67 fl
Height to Tip: : 286 m / 937 ft
Highest Occupied: ??? m / ??? ft
(Estimated completion: 2016)

Using slenderness as a strategy to lift its residences high in the sky, 30 Park Place, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Associates, pulls as far away as possible from the Woolworth Building-once the world's tallest building-which it now overtops. A courtyard to separate the two, allowing 30 Park Place to rise, also allows Woolworth to remain standing as a free-standing structure.

As with the earlier design for 15 Central Park West, Robert A. M. Stern Associates employs a classical vocabulary of masonry walls and picture windows to refer to the traditions of historic architecture-in counterpoint to both the all-glass office towers of the World Trade Center, both planned and currently under construction, and to the Gothic spire of the Woolworth Building which occupies the same block, just east of 30 Park Place. In its height and slenderness, 30 Park Place relates to the office-building ensemble at Ground Zero also being developed by Silverstein Properties.

The 937-foot tall, 82-story limestone-clad structure—estimated to be completed in 2016—is a mixed-use project, with a 185-room hotel, The Four Seasons Hotel New York, Downtown, on the lower 21 floors. The remainder of the tower, known as the Four Seasons Private Residences New York at 30 Park Place, will comprise 157 luxury condominiums, including full-floor penthouses and setback terraces, with some private residences as large as 6,000 square feet.

See 30 Park Place in SKY HIGH

8.    220 Central Park South

66 fl
Height to Tip: 290 m / 950 ft
Highest Occupied: xxx m / xxxx ft
(Completed 2017)

Designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, 220 Central Park South will rise 950 feet and contain 118 luxury residential units when it is completed in 2017. The residences will be split between a 14-story villa and the adjacent 69-story tower. The tower’s design is targeted towards the rich, who also admire Stern’s other historicist projects, including 15 Central Park West. 220 Central Park South will stand out from the other towers in the 57th street locale, clad in limestone rather than glass and steel.

Vornado Realty Trust, the project’s developer, participated in a power struggle with Extell, the developer of the Nordstrom Tower, in the process of acquiring land and permits for 220 Central Park South. Upon hearing about Vornado’s proposed tower, Gary Barnett of Extell reportedly bought the lease on a parking garage that would have to be demolished for Vornado’s project to go forward because the 950-foot tower would block views from his project at 217 West 57th Street—Nordstrom Tower. In 2013, the two settled this dispute: Vornado paid Extell $194 million for the parking garage, and both developers agreed to move their projects slightly to secure views.

7.    70 Pine

80 fl
Height to Tip: 290 m / 952 ft
Highest Occupied: 243 m / 800 ft
(completed 1932, residential conversion completed 2015)

Formerly the Cities Service Building, the 1932-built Art Deco 70 Pine Street has just undergone a conversion from offices to residences. The 952-foot building includes 644 residential units, an extended-stay hotel, and 35,000 feet of retail space. Developed by Rose Associates and DTH Capital, 70 Pine will be topped with a four-story restaurant and bar. The landmarked skyscraper, which is set to open this fall is just one of the many office buildings that is being converted to residential as more people are choosing to live in the Financial District.

6.    One57

75 fl
Height to Tip: 306 m / 1,004 ft
Highest Occupied: 275 m / 902 ft
(completed 2014)

At 1,004 feet tall, One57 was the tallest residential tower in New York City when it was completed in 2014, only to be taken by 432 Park (which will in turn only keep its title until Nordstrom Tower is completed). One57 is the breakthrough luxury project of the developer Gary Barnett of Excell. Targeted at an ultra-luxury market, One57 combines the program of a hotel and its services and amenities in the lower section and 94 condominium units in the tower. One57 is well-known today for its record-breaking $100 million penthouse sale in January 2015.

Although Barnett had begun to acquire buildings and air rights as early as 1998, the first design for One57 began in 2005 when the developer commissioned the Pritzker Prize-winning French architect Christian de Portzamparc to prepare design studies for a pair of towers for the two sites one block apart that he owned on W. 57th Street. (The second site is the group of lots that in fall 2013 were in design development by Smith + Gill.) In July 2007, Portzamparc was commissioned to develop the design for the mixed-use, hotel and condominium tower at 157 W. 57 that would rise to 300 meters (c. 1,000 ft.).

The slenderness and massing strategies evolved in dozens of study models in 2008, and the tower reached its definitive form in 2009 in a project the Portzamparc Atelier called "les cascades," referring to the imagery of flowing waterfalls. The curtain wall treatment of varicolored glass panels of blue, gray, and silver reinforced the trope of reflections on water, but Portzamparc also used the term "Klimt effect" to describe the façade, suggesting the mosaic-like decorations of the Viennese modernist painter.

See One57 in SKY HIGH

5.    35 Hudson Yards     

79 fl
Height to Tip: 308 m / 1,009 ft
Highest Occupied: ??? m / ??? ft
(Estimated completion 2018)

35 Hudson Yards will be the second residential building constructed in the Hudson Yards megaproject and will feature six floors of office space, 217 hotel rooms, and 135 luxury condominiums. At 72 stories and 1,009 feet the tower, designed by David Childs with SOM, will be one of the tallest residential buildings in the city and the second tallest of the seven Eastern Yard towers. Like, 15 Hudson Yards, the skyscraper has seen design changes, beginning as a 900-foot tower with curvilinear setbacks, then transforming to a cylindrical design. The most recent set of renderings show the tower as boxier with setbacks and a curvy top.

4.    MoMA Tower     

77 fl
Height to Tip: 320.1 m / 1,050 ft
Highest Occupied: ??? m / ??? ft
(Estimated completion: 2018)

Designed by the acclaimed French architect Jean Nouvel, the MoMA Tower, which his studio named Tour Verre, successfully made its way through the review process of the City Planning Commission in the summer of 2009, although with a reduction of height from the original proposal for 1,250 ft., which was cut down to 1,050 ft. The project was halted, however, by the severe recession in financial markets that effectively ended all real estate lending. The project has since been revived, and construction began in 2015.

MoMA will be integrated into the tower: the third, fourth and fifth floors of the tower will serve as 40,000 square feet of additional gallery space for the museum, and residences of the tower will receive benefactor memberships to the museum. Ultimately, the space will play an important part for the MoMA in reassessing the display of their collections in the building’s space.

See MoMA Tower in SKY HIGH

3.    432 Park Avenue

88 fl
Height to Tip: 426 m / 1,396 ft
Highest Occupied: 392 m / 1,287 ft
(Completed 2015)

With a flat rooftop that squares off at 1,396 feet, 432 Park Avenue will be—in the words of its developers Macklowe Properties and the CIM Group—the loftiest residence “in the Western Hemisphere” upon its completion in Fall 2015. At that height, it will be taller than the 1,368-foot roof of One World Trade Center, as well as of the original WTC Tower 1, which at that height was, from 1971-1973, the world's tallest building. However, two taller residential buildings will beat out 432 Park’s title upon their completion in 2018: 111 W 57th and Nordstrom Tower.

Exemplifying “the logic of luxury,” the tower's soaring height is predicated on its compact 93-foot square floor plate and extra-high ceilings, which produce its slenderness ratio of 1:15. Designed by Rafael Viñoly, the emphatic white grid of the concrete frame, divided into six sections by open mechanical floors, represents an integration of the elegant architectural concept and structural logic that sets 432 Park Avenue apart from curtain-wall contemporaries.

See 432 Park Ave in SKY HIGH

2.    111 West 57th Street

80 fl
Height to Tip: 438 m / 1,438 ft
Highest Occupied: 346 m / 1,134 ft
(Estimated completion 2018)

The feather-thin tower, projected to rise 1,438 feet, under construction at 111 W 57th St. is the most extreme example in New York to date of a design that uses a development strategy of slenderness. With a ratio of the width of the base to height of 1:23, it will be by far the most slender building in the world.

The stepped-back silhouette of tower, which uses textured terra-cotta ornament to disguise the concrete shear wall structure, shows the inventiveness of both the architect SHoP and the engineer, the WSP Group. According to the architects, “the façade is designed to read at multiple scales and vantage points; the shaping of the terra cotta creates a sweeping play of shadow and light from the city scale, as the texture of the terra cotta panels and inlaid bronze filigree provides richness up close.”

As for the building’s close proximity to the New York landmark Steinway Building, the building’s developers, JDS Development and Property Markets Group, have worked carefully with SHoP and the Landmarks Preservation Committee to maintain its presence in the neighborhood. According to SHoP, “the bulk of the new tower massing is set back from the street to maintain visibility to the three primary sides of the Steinway Building’s front tower,” and the design will “strategically intersect with the historic building to maintain the character and independence of the landmark.”

See 11 West 57th Street in SKY HIGH

1.    Central Park Tower     

95 fl
Height to Tip: 541 m / 1,775 ft
Highest Occupied: 442 m / 1,450 ft
(Estimated completion 2018)

Expected to be completed in 2018, Nordstrom Tower (also known as Central Park Tower) will be the tallest residential building in the world at a staggering 1,775 feet tall, just one foot shorter than One World Trade Center (“out of respect,” according to Gary Barnett of Extell, the building’s developer). The building, designed by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture, will also have the tallest roof in the Western Hemisphere at 1,522 feet. Besides its near-200 residential units, Nordstrom Tower will also house a hotel as well as a Nordstrom department store in the building’s base.

Nordstrom Tower will rise above the Art Students League, which currently occupies a French-Renaissance style building. Although Extell paid the League over $50 million in 2005 and 2006 in order to secure air rights, some of its members united to oppose the project, raising issue about the safety of construction process. When construction did begin in 2014 and the façade of the building was hidden by scaffolding, the students of the League decorated the front of the school with various works of art.

What are the Ten Tallest Topped-out Towers Today?