Zaha Hadid Architects’ Next Project? A Beastly NYC Tower That’s Already a Political Lightning Rod

The next planned project from Zaha Hadid Architects will be a $12 billion super-tall skyscraper that would be the second tallest building in New York, which is a big enough deal all on its own. The forces behind the project make it even more newsworthy: It is being backed by the Kushners, whose scion Jared is husband to Ivanka Trump and trusted adviser to President Donald Trump.

As if the combination of architectural and political celebrity weren’t enough, the Midtown Manhattan property is located at a rather inauspicious address: 666 Fifth Avenue. That’s the Number of the Beast, in case you’re keeping track—a detail that the internet, predictably, is relishing.

The plan would add a glass addition atop a 1950s office building. Once complete, the 1,400-foot tower will be a full 40 floors taller than the existing building.

The Hadid/Kushner building would be slightly shorter than One World Trade, but would outstrip, just barely, the 1,396-foot 432 Park Avenue, a slender, ultra-luxury edifice towering above Central Park along the so-called “Billionaires’ Row.”

Zaha Hadid Architects, rendering for 666 Fifth Avenue. Courtesy of Methanoia.

Zaha Hadid Architects, rendering for 666 Fifth Avenue. Courtesy of Methanoia.

The first planned building from Zaha Hadid’s firm since the great Iraqi architect’s unexpected death in 2016, 666 Fifth Avenue would be the second New York building from her firm. The first, at 520 West 28th Street overlooking the High Line, will see construction “wrap in the not-too-distant future,” according to Curbed.

The new Zaha Hadid-designed building will be mixed-use, incorporating retail and residential spaces as well as an 11-story hotel. It is just four blocks south of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.

Zaha Hadid Architects, rendering for 666 Fifth Avenue Photoshopped to resemble the eye of Sauron from Lord of the Rings. Courtesy of Methanoia/Grok.

Zaha Hadid Architects, rendering for 666 Fifth Avenue Photoshopped to resemble the eye of Sauron from Lord of the Rings. Courtesy of Methanoia/Grok.

As part of Jared Kushner’s role in the new presidential administration, he has resigned as CEO of Kushner Companies and sold his shares of 666 Fifth Avenue, which the family purchased for $1.8 billion in 2007, to his father, Charlie. According to the Real Deal, experts still have ethical concerns about China’s Anbang Insurance Group, a potential investor, as their involvement could be construed as a ploy to buy influence with the Trump administration.

The Real Deal also reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee is looking to open investigations into Kushner’s December meeting with Russian banker Sergey N. Gorkov, in order to determine whether the former real estate developer used the meeting to seek financing for 666 Fifth Avenue.

Even leaving aside potential foreign governmental interference, the internet has been quick to ridicule the massive tower, likening the renderings, which show a building quite out of scale with its neighbors, to the impossibly tall Tower of Mordor with its evil Eye of Sauron, from the Lord of the Rings.

Twitter gadflies have also been quick to compare the proposed building to a middle finger, a Swarovski-encrusted phallus, and a huge glass dildo, as reported by Dezeen.

Isamu Noguchi, <em>Landscape of the Cloud</em> in the lobby of 666 Fifth Avenue. Courtesy of Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel, Architects.

Isamu Noguchi, Landscape of the Cloud in the lobby of 666 Fifth Avenue. Courtesy of Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel, Architects.

Perhaps wisely, but certainly disappointingly, there are reportedly plans to change the address from 666 to 660 Fifth Avenue, to downplay associations with the devil.

The original building was designed by Carson & Lundin, and was called the Tishman Building. Since opening in 1957, the building has housed an Isamu Noguchi sculpture, Landscape of the Cloudin its lobby. Should all go according to plan, the expanded 666 Fifth Avenue would be completed in 2025.

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