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New Zaha Hadid Design Brings Renown to Chelsea, but at W...

New Zaha Hadid Design Brings Renown to Chelsea, but at What Cost?

World-renowned architect, Zaha Hadid has never designed a residential building in New York City. Her design at 520 West 28th Street in the Chelsea area of Manhattan, represents an expansion to her already illustrious portfolio. Hadid has had a noteworthy career, with countless acclaimed projects around the globe, including the Vitra Fire House, the Guangzhou Opera

by Quinn Harding February 4, 2016 No comments

A rendering of the interior by Zaha Hadid Architects

World-renowned architect, Zaha Hadid has never designed a residential building in New York City. Her design at 520 West 28th Street in the Chelsea area of Manhattan, represents an expansion to her already illustrious portfolio. Hadid has had a noteworthy career, with countless acclaimed projects around the globe, including the Vitra Fire House, the Guangzhou Opera House and the Galaxy Soho. Hadid has a diverse portfolio, however, she favors the use of dramatic curves as an allusion of movement through time and the grace of nature. 520 West 28th Street follows this established trend, as its distinct characteristic includes curves that run throughout the interior and exterior of the building.

520 West 28th Street is still under construction and will not be finished until late 2016, or even 2017

The building is scheduled to open in either 2016 or 2017, however once completed, the apartment complex will boast an impressive list of amenities for its residents. There will be underground parking, bathrooms with glass walls that frost over at the touch of a button, and even an attaché that will book anything from dinner to a helicopter ride. These perks will only be available to those willing to pay a steep price though, with apartments starting at approximately $4 million, gearing the building towards a wealthier demographic.

A building creates an impression not only through its architecture, but also through its cultural impact. This is especially important in Chelsea, a neighborhood that has been hailed as a cultural hub of New York. On any given day, one could visit the Highline, visit the Chelsea Market, one of Chelsea’s countless galleries, or simply walk, jog or bike along the river. Regardless of time or resources, anyone can find something to do in Chelsea, a major factor in its widespread appeal. Each building has its own unique effect within the context of the urban fabric. While 520 West 28th Street is and will be an incredible feat of architecture, it is strictly a high-end building, accessible only to the city’s wealthier citizens. The exclusivity of this design will have a distinct influence in shaping the area with an impact that is not fully known.

520 West 28th Street will be integrated right into the High Line, putting it right in the heart of Chelsea life and tourism. 520 West 28th Street will be integrated right into the High Line, putting it right in the heart of Chelsea life and tourism.

Hadid is the latest in a line of starchitects with projects in the Chelsea neighborhood, including Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry. These buildings, designed by famous architects, have made the community universally more attractive, subsequently raising property values as well as the cost of living. The development of these prominent structures mirrors a transition occurring throughout Chelsea; as property values continue to rise and push out residents and groups that can no longer afford the neighborhood. Even as gentrification transforms the neighborhood, it is still considered an epicenter for culture, however, its evolution raises the question: whose culture is it?

Does a hub for culture necessarily have to be accessible to everyone?Are there any neighborhoods going through a similar transformation near you? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below. 

Credits: Images by Quinn Harding. Data and images linked to sources.

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Quinn graduated last May from Haverford College in Growth and Structure of Cities with a focus in architecture. His interests in the field include issues of sustainability, historic preservation, and innovative use of public and communal spaces. Curr...

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