The High Line’s Latest Starchitect Project


At Hudson Yards, Thomas Heatherwick gave New York an endless staircase. Now, the creative British designer is set to deliver a complete building.

At 515 West 18th Street in Manhattan, Mr. Heatherwick, who is best known to New Yorkers as the creator of the Vessel, the 150-foot-tall, Instagram-friendly basket of stairs at the heart of Hudson Yards, has designed Lantern House, a 181-unit condominium.

The project comprises two towers that flank the High Line. One tower, on the eastern side of the elevated park, is 10 stories tall; the other, on the western side, is 22 stories tall. Both have a gridded structure of textured brick holding enormous bubbles of glass and bronze-colored aluminum that recall the curved shades of hurricane oil lanterns.

Mr. Heatherwick said he was initially inspired by the bay windows found in Victorian houses across the United Kingdom and wondered whether they could be translated to condo towers.

“I was thinking about how to make something where if you stand at the window, you’re almost standing out into the view,” he said. “Could every window be a bay window?”

Of course, Mr. Heatherwick, a designer who has long delighted in shunning convention, wasn’t content to add just any bay window. He developed floor-to-ceiling, curved compositions of flat glass panels that have as much in common with the transparent capsules of the London Eye as they do Victorian windows.

“The ones I’m particularly excited about are the corner ones, where they really swing right around and get these panoramic views,” he said.

The building’s brick, meanwhile, is a riff on Manhattan’s old industrial warehouses. “I felt there was a role for not being too shiny, and having materials connected to a New York vernacular,” Mr. Heatherwick said.

Most of the lantern-shaped windows straddle two floors to enclose two apartments — one on the bottom with glass angling down; and one on top, with glass angling up. Smaller single-story lanterns enclose penthouses, as well as apartments on the 10th floor of the west tower.

The two towers are connected by a glass lobby with a sinuous metal roof that sweeps below the High Line.

On the ground floor, amenity spaces including a library lounge, an event suite with catering kitchen, a co-working lounge and a game room are organized around a private garden designed by Hollander Design Landscape Architects under the High Line.

A 75-foot-long swimming pool, cold plunge pool, hot tub and saunas are on the second floor, and a fitness center, yoga studio and children’s playroom are on the third floor.

Related Companies, the developer, had previously partnered with Mr. Heatherwick on the Vessel at Hudson Yards, and expected he would conceive a similarly attention-grabbing design for this project.

“Everyone at this point in time expects great, unique architecture to sprout out of the sites in and around the High Line,” said Jordan Sasson, a vice president at Related. “With Thomas, we knew we would get something unique. There’s no question about that.”

The interiors are designed by March & White, which aimed to create modern rooms that nevertheless recall the handcraftsmanship and rich materiality of the past.

“We thought there was a real opportunity to produce a crafted interior that responded to what Thomas was doing on the outside of the building with the brickwork and detailing of the windows,” said Elliot March, one of the firm’s partners.

Individual units have chevron-patterned oak floors and kitchens with custom scalloped oak and fluted glass doors from the English company WJ White. The design scheme is offered in a choice of two different color palettes — one lighter, one darker.

Related and Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group plan to begin sales in late January with one-bedroom units starting at $1.39 million and 760 square feet, two-bedrooms starting at $2.49 million and about 1,250 square feet, and three-bedrooms starting at $3.45 million and about 1,600 square feet. At the top, four-bedroom penthouses run up to nearly $20 million.

Dan August Cordeiro, a senior managing director at Corcoran Sunshine, said the project has already generated a lot of interest. “We have over 550 people who have inquired,” and joined a wait list ahead of the sales launch, he said.

But even Mr. Heatherwick seemed aware of the challenges facing new residential towers in a neighborhood that already resembles an architectural playground, with condos designed by Zaha Hadid (another Related project), Bjarke Ingels and Peter Marino, among others.

“There have been so many different projects, which are ambitious and wholehearted in really trying to make special places,” Mr. Heatherwick said. “We’re certainly not alone.”

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