Future of Towers

New York's city skyline is lined with giant glass boxes, beautiful buildings filled with luxury units that boast impressive and exclusive views of Central Park and beyond. But if seamless tower walls separate residents from nature more and more, will we see that future towers might look a little different?

Eran Chen, Founding Principal of ODA New York, has long questioned the isolated high rises with one way in and out, the elevator that takes you to your private penthouse, floating high above the city streets. Vertical living has turned us into voyeurs and observers, rather than participants. This typology lacks the feeling of community and social interaction we are craving now more than ever, but it also disconnects us from the outside world, partly because technology did not support bold architectural concepts, such as floor plans that actually open up to nature, or an amenity garden, in this case on the 53rd floor.

But ODA’s tower designs take powerful new forms. Even though we’ve seen the trend of moving some amenities from a musty basement to higher floors, ODA is taking this concept to the next level. It is ODA’s design intention to use architecture to bridge communities and create spaces for connection. In most current tower iterations you can’t even open a window, but ODA is conceiving ways to open a door onto a garden in the sky. These elevated amenities offer views of the sea or mountains in the distance, new places to connect with neighbors in spaces big enough to sit outside and feel the wind blow through your hair. On a new tower in Midtown Manhattan, we’re working on oversized terraces throughout the building’s 44 floors. In another project on East 44th Street, we are creating shared outdoor amenities throughout the building as a way of connecting people in different sections (see below).  In LA, people can take a lap in the pool or take a yoga class with the Pacific Ocean as their backdrop. And in Seattle a shared garden terrace offers views of Mt. Ranier. It’s a new perspective that the world is beckoning for in a post-COVID world.

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