Next month, a daring, $20 billion development officially opens in a previously inhospitable and uninhabitable area on Manhattan’s Far West Side. Spearheaded by real estate firm Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, the 28-acre Hudson Yards sits atop an active rail yard, making it a remarkable architectural and technological achievement. It’s also an audacious experiment in large-scale urban planning, combining public art and tourist-worthy stores and restaurants with high-end office towers and mixed-income residential buildings. “It’s a city within a city,” says Related chairman Stephen Ross. Below, an early look at the first phase of this built-from-scratch neighborhood.
1. Office buildings
Hudson Yards has 10 million square feet of office space spread across five high-rises including 30 Hudson Yards, New York’s second-tallest office building. The development has attracted a diverse array of companies including investment firms (KKR), media entities (VaynerMedia, HBO), global conglomerates (L’Oréal, Tapestry), and tech companies (Sidewalk Labs).
Once complete, the development will have 4,000 condominiums and rental apartments with market-rate residences beginning at $1.95 million. But the neighborhood is not just for the wealthy: 20% of apartments are reserved for affordable housing, with rents starting at $858 a month for a studio.
3. A Connected district
Related uses data from cell phones and street cameras to monitor and react to traffic patterns, air quality, power demands, temperature, and pedestrian flows. The neighborhood’s residents can use the Hudson Yards app to pay bills and book onsite amenities. Visitors who use the public Wi-Fi may opt in to receive notifications about events and experiences.
4. The Shed
Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group designed this building, which is home to the new nonprofit Shed arts group, dedicated to commissioning and presenting visual and performing arts. Movie director Steve McQueen is overseeing the opening event this spring, a concert series entitled “Soundtrack of America,” celebrating African-American music. The 200,000-square-foot building has an outer shell that slides over the adjoining plaza to create a theater.
More than 100 luxury and mass-market stores (including New York City’s first Neiman Marcus) share space in this seven-story building. The second floor will host shops from digitally native retailers (Mack Weldon, M.Gemi). Related is also experimenting with tracking people’s shopping activity and sending them “targeted emails and ads on social media,” according to retail specialist Esty Ottensoser.
6. Observation Deck
The 100th floor of 30 Hudson Yards has the highest outdoor manufactured viewing area in the western hemisphere, and the fifth highest in the world.
The 25 onsite restaurants include offerings from Thomas Keller and David Chang. José Andrés and the Adrià brothers (of El Bulli fame) oversee the 35,000-square-foot Mercado Little Spain, showcasing Spanish cuisine.
Architect Thomas Heatherwick’s $150 million climbable public art structure is composed of 2,500 steps and 80 landings. Heatherwick sees it as an extension of the High Line, the elevated park that ends at Hudson Yards: “We thought, What if we made a mile of public space wrap around in the air?”
9. The public square
The Nelson Byrd Woltz-designed five-acre park features more than 28,000 plants and 200 trees that were grown offsite for four years before being transplanted here. “So much of the city is a sidewalk [next to] traffic,” says lead architect Thomas Woltz. “Now we have the opportunity for the car to take a back seat.”
To keep the soil bed hospitable above a rail yard that can reach 150 degrees, a series of fans ventilate the tracks and cooling liquids circulate through underground tubing. Woltz layered concrete and sand into the soil to train roots to grow wide and shallow, enabling plants to reach maturity. Rainwater is collected in a 60,000-gallon tank and used for irrigation.
The entire development sits on a pair of platforms that weigh 35,000 tons and are held up by 300 caissons, drilled into the ground like stakes. The rail yard underneath contains 30 train tracks and three rail tunnels, and will eventually house a new gateway tunnel connecting Manhattan to New Jersey.
A 13.2-megawatt cogeneration plant creates enough energy to keep building services, residences, and refrigerators running in the event of a power loss. The waste heat from the plant is used to heat and cool water.