Six Architectural Ideas That Could Change the Way We Live in Cities

Whether in response to polluted air or shrinking space, architects keep coming up with novel approaches to reshaping urban life

Industrial designer Shin Kuo thinks everyone in a building should be able to live in the penthouse for a time. (Shin Kuo)
smithsonian.com

Gardens in the Sky

There's nothing new about skinny skyscrapers in Manhattan any more. Developers keep finding ways to squeeze high rises into ridiculously narrow spaces. Consider that a 80-story condo building going up on West 57th Street is rising from a lot less than 60 feet wide. 

But a proposed building on East 44th Street will push the limits of pencil thinness—it will be only 47 feet wide. This is a tower that will rise 41 stories when it's complete in 2017. But what the building, designed by ODA architecture, lacks in girth, it will make up for in gardens. 

It will feature six 16-foot high gaps in the facade. These are private gardens for people who live on the top floors. There will be another private full-floor garden on the roof for residents of the skyscraper's penthouse. The lower floors, without gardens, will be divided into one- and two-bedroom apartments, with full-floor units starting on the 22nd story. No price has been set yet for the units at the top with the gardens, but they are expected to be quite expensive.

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