A city can have many defining features: its layout, a public park, a monument. And its architecture, specifically one-of-a-kind buildings, can not only become a calling card for the city, it can draw international acclaim from architects, ire from residents, and a steady stream of curious tourists. New York City is no stranger to these aesthetic anomalies, and in fact has more than a few that make their own unique contribution to the local architectural landscape. Recent additions like Herzog & de Meuron’s stacked building in TriBeCa, nicknamed the Jenga Tower, instantly stands out from the crowd of glass skyscrapers, while Julian Schabel’s pink-hued Palazzo Chupi adds a pop of color to the historic West Village. Collected here are some of New York’s most extraordinary structures.
Known informally as the Jenga Tower for its stacked construction resembling the popular game, 56 Leonard Street is a residential tower in TriBeCa by Herzog & de Meuron. Completed this year, the distinctive building has been described by the architects as “houses stacked in the sky.” Location: Leonard Street, between W. Broadway and Church Street.
Set in Washington Heights, this topsy-turvy-looking building is the Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center at Columbia University. The structure is described as a “Study Cascade” by the architects Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, and opened in 2016 for use by the institution’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. Locatoion: Haven Avenue, between 172 Ave. and 171 Ave.
Located in the city’s NoMad neighborhood, this building was once the Gershwin Hotel, named after the late composer. Designed by architect William H. Birkmire, the Beaux Arts-style building was painted bright red and displayed the whimsical fiberglass “Tongues and Flames” installation by Finnish artist Stefan Lindfors. In 2014, the hotel was became The Evelyn, and has since lost its distinctive exterior. Location: E 27th Street, between Madison and 5th Avenue.
A National Historic Landmark since 1966, the Woolworth Building in the Financial District is one of the city’s most eccentric buildings, not for its exterior, but for the curious features within. Designed by Cass Gilbert and commissioned by Frank Woolworth, the Gothic Revival tower features interior carvings of salamanders, the architect, the owner, and others in his orbit. Location: Barclay Street and Broadway.