Projects 195: Park McArthur

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Jean Nouvel. Model of the design for 53 W 53 containing 145 luxury residences and exhibition space on the lower floors. Image courtesy 53 W 53 Sales Gallery

53 W 53 Tower Model. 2018

Jean Nouvel. Model of the design for 53 W 53 containing 145 luxury residences and exhibition space on the lower floors. Image courtesy 53W53 Sales Gallery

The next group of models is located off site, in an office rented by Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group at 745 5th Avenue. The models here represent a luxury residential tower which will house a portion of the Museum’s expansion inside its lower levels. The residential apartment complex is designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel and is a separate construction project; it is not represented in the Diller Scofidio + Renfro model at MoMA. The Nouvel tower is known as its address: 53 West 53rd.

Entering the Corcoran sales office building, the expansive lobby at number 745 (seven hundred forty five) echoes with sounds bouncing off its polished stone and high ceilings. Behind the front desk, elevators rising into the double digits flank the left and right sides of a wide hallway. Upon exiting the elevator on the sixth floor, a right-turn leads to heavy walnut-wood double doors that open onto a hushed reception area.

Inside, another set of walnut doors opens onto a large carpeted room housing architectural models. Two sales agents are present to answer questions about 53 W 53rd. Every movement—whether by wheel, foot, or vacuum cleaner—registers on the room’s plush beige carpet. Each architectural model represents different sections of the 53 W 53rd residential skyscraper. The residence’s lobby, indoor gym, and wine tasting and storage rooms, among other areas are elaborated as plastic, wood, paper, and stone miniature displays. Panes of clear Plexi-glass cut off every tiny interior from touch. Amid this array of sectional models stands a twelve-foot (3.6m) tall rendering of the 53 W 53rd building in full. Lit from inside, this object stands alone on a low dark wooden plinth.

A grid of flat screen monitors on one of the room’s large walls simulates views that might be seen were you to be inside 53 W 53rd looking out. Imagine floating among the Manhattan skyline or viewing Central Park in its entirety from above. On the occasion of the topping off of the 53 W 53rd tower, Martino Stierli, MoMA’s Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, spontaneously compared this view to being “on top of the world” via his private Instagram.

While the building follows the design of Nouvel, the interior spaces at 53 W 53rd were planned by architect Thierry Despont. The showroom’s life-size model rooms intend to provide the experience of moving through an actual apartment: one room features a large, unused, kitchen with white appliances and matching white stone countertops surrounding an immobile island platform. Behind another set of heavy wooden doors is a fully furnished, carpeted bedroom with backlit windows that feels as if it is floating inside of a translucent cloud. A king-sized bed with white and cream-colored sheets, blankets and pillows is positioned against the room’s longest wall. On either side of the bed, a sliding door leads to a large bathroom with multiple sinks and mirrors, an enclosed glass shower, a large tub, and a small, separate room with a toilet and a bidet inside.