2017 Merit Award

The Spiral

Category: Un-Built Projects

Landscape Architect:

BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group


Project Team:

Adamson Associates, WSP Cantor Seinuk, Cosentini, Edgett Williams Consulting Group, Heintges, BIG IDEAS

About the Project:

The Spiral is conceived as a new typology of landscape and city-making, addressing increasingly critical urban issues of density, ecology and open space. The roofscape becomes a vertical garden of social and ecological richness in a hyper-dense urban environment, holistically integrated with building, neighborhood, its users, and native flora and fauna. The Spiral is comprised of sixty terraces and adjacent atria on a soon-to-be-constructed 1000-foot-tall tower. Sixty terraces and atria cover over two acres, spiraling ¾ mile skywards, half the length of the nearby High Line, echoing the native horticultural palette of the area’s newest parks. The resulting proposal is a lush slice of woodland that links inside and outside terrace and atria spaces through plant palette, material and detail.

Project Location: New York, NY

Special Factors

The Clients

The clients have a long-standing presence in New York development, and are highly invested in creating high-quality built environments that are respectful of the skyline and needs of tenants. One of their flagship buildings is the Rockefeller Center, originally conceived as a ‘Hanging Garden of Babylon,’ complete with a range of gardens across its roof terraces. The Spiral picks up on this lineage of gardens in the sky, reimagining it as an opportunity to create an enriched workspace and robust ecological patch in the city.

The Users: Biophilic Design

The presence of a thriving landscape and its associated ecosystem connects employees with vital natural systems. These connections relieve stress, invigorate the senses, and stimulate creativity. Science-based, ecological design enhances vibrancy in urban habitats for humans and wildlife while contributing to long-term regional ecological enrichment.

The Living Skyline

Native Planting is carefully selected to maximize the visual expression of the building. In addition to providing visual interest and climatic comfort for tenants, the tower is a hive for pollinators and songbirds – chickadees, warblers, house wrens, hawk moths, and Ruby-throated hummingbirds – animating the tower throughout the year. Where traditional New York towers celebrate their identity through stylistic rooflines, antennas, and lighting, here planting is the signature identity – creating a new New York typology: a seasonably dynamic and ecologically performative tower.

Skyline for the Seasons

Planting and edge details are designed to maximize human comfort and experience, mitigating exposure to harsh wind and sun, while framing views and providing a furnishing kit-of-parts to create diverse social gatherings. Rooftop rainwater is harvested from the terraces and used for irrigation – exceeding on-site detention requirements, reducing CSO contributions during rain events, and creating a self-feeding living tower.