21-Story Residential Building Rises Above Ground Level at 221 West 29th Street, Chelsea

A 21-story building has risen above ground level at 221 West 29th Street, on the northern fringe of Chelsea. The 210-foot-tall building, situated between Seventh and Eighth avenues, two blocks south of Penn Station, is slated to contain 95 rental units, 19 of which are scheduled to be affordable. The project is developed by CBSK Ironstate, the group consisting of SK Development, CB Developers, and Ironstate Development. The architecture firm Goldstein, Hill & West is responsible for the design that draws inspiration from its pre-war context. CM & Associates Construction Management, LLC, abbreviated as CMA, was contracted for pre-construction design consultation and construction management.

The parking lot at the mid-block lot situated on the north side of West 29th Street was decommissioned around July 2014. By August, construction fencing went up around the lot, where heavy machinery started the excavation process. The following year saw construction of the foundation that employed a secant pile foundation wall design. By mid-May of this year, the superstructure passed its second floor as construction elevator equipment arrived at the site.

Building permits list the total construction area at 105,377 square feet. Of these, 78,695 would be residential, which means that the average unit would span 828 square feet. A 671-square-foot retail space would sit at the ground floor. The rest of the space would be allocated to amenities such as recreation rooms, laundry, storage, and the 19 parking spaces located within the underground levels.

The building’s form is an updated take on the setbacked, “wedding cake” aesthetic of the pre-war commercial high-rises that line most blocks in Midtown South. Although the new building itself sits between a seven-story pre-war sliver to the east and a two-story property to the west, most of the block is lined with pre-war office high-rises where setbacks begin around midway of their roughly 15-story height. Even though the new addition to the block rises slightly above the rest, it generally follows the same form.

The facade would be organized into three four-window bays. The bays would be separated by heavy mullions of brick-pattern limestone, echoing the nearly century-old neighbors up and down the block. The windows in between would be separated by thinner, vertical mullions clad in dark metal. Dark metal grills and limestone bars would make up the spandrels between windows, matching both materials mentioned above. The heavy limestone mullions would be topped with T-shaped caps executed in the same metal finish. The resulting composition is not an imitation of the past, but rather a modern re-interpretation of the district’s historic spirit, where commercial high-rises once shared their urban space with light manufacturing facilities.

A series of setbacks sit between the 13th and 16th floors, with landscaped terraces fronted by glass balustrades. These upper floors, capped with a south-facing green roof, feature a slightly different, more horizontal-oriented facade treatment, achieved via prioritizing horizontals, rather than verticals, within the four-window groupings. The lot walls tread middle ground between their current standalone position and anticipation of future development by presenting a single row of windows along the edges and a white-gray tile pattern that imitates the setback form.

The lower two floors dispense with limestone trimming, fully embracing the aesthetic of polished and textured metal surfaces instead. The entrance sits underneath a glass canopy suspended by two steel rods.

The interiors will be designed by Whitehall Interiors, which splintered off from Goldstein, Hill & West in 2014. Although no renderings are available at the moment, the construction manager’s webpage describes the units as “impressively modern, with pared down aesthetics.”

The building is scheduled to open its doors in 2017.

211 West 29th Street is located within a busy part of the city, well-serviced by public transit. The 28th Street Station one block south at Seventh Avenue and West 28th Street provides access to the 1 train. A few blocks north, by Penn Station, one may access The A, C, E, 1, 2, and 3 trains, as well as the Long Island Rail Road, NJ Transit, and PATH trains. The building is located within School District 2.

A wave of change is sweeping the neighborhood. On the other end of the block, across the street from one another, 15- and 14-story residential projects are rising at 241 West 28th Street and 257 West 29th Street respectively. The block to the south awaits construction of three residential buildings at 211, 215, and 223 West 28th, which would rise between 14 and 21 stories. A series of luxury apartment towers and hotels proposed for NoMad and Herald Square to the east, the impending redevelopment of the Penn Station area to the north, and the new skyline sprouting around Hudson Yards to the northwest promise to transform the surrounding neighborhood in the coming years.