Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
American Copper Buildings
Featured June 2018
The American Copper Buildings were recognized as the "Best Tall Building: Americas"  in the 2018 Best Tall Building Awards.
Other Featured Tall Buildings

“When we were designing the building, we decided to put the pool in the skybridge so that you could swim from one skyscraper to the other, 300 feet in the air. It creates this new idea of what urban living on the waterfront can be.

– Gregg Pasquarelli, Principal, SHoP Architects

Completion Date:
2017
Building Height:
West Tower: 165 m (540 ft);
East Tower: 143 m (470 ft)
Primary Function:
Residential
Owner / Developer:
JDS Development Group
Architects:
SHoP Architects (design)
Structural Engineers:
WSP (design)

MEP Engineer: Buro Happold (design)

Main Contractors:
JDS Construction Group
Other Contractors: Cerami & Associates (acoustics); West Tower: Buro Happold (façade, lighting)


Comprising two bold and dynamic residential towers, the American Copper Buildings represent a venturesome and highly visible architectural statement along the edge of New York City’s East River. Clad in copper on the north and south façades, the color and refractive qualities of the towers will patina gracefully over time, shifting from a russet brown to a signature blue-green throughout the years, much like the iconic Statue of Liberty. Previously the location of a razed power plant, the development brings an inspirational tone to an area that has been historically underutilized, particularly in terms of residential offerings.

 

The pivoting shape of the American Copper Buildings, with their slightly askew angles — one bending east/west, the other north/south — creates a unique profile on the skyline. The formal approach also allowed for hundreds of unique unit layouts in the building, a departure from the “copy and paste” floor layouts of older residential towers in the city. In total, the building has 761 units — all of which are rental apartments, and 20 percent of which are designated as affordable.

Perhaps the most conspicuous structural element is the three-story skybridge connecting the East and West towers. The skybridge not only serves as an amenity space, complete with a pool spanning the entire length, but also as an important connection for the towers’ MEP systems. As a result of this connection, the space normally reserved for mechanical systems at the top of the East Tower was repurposed for a rooftop deck and infinity pool. Additional building amenities include a lounge, a fitness center with a climbing wall, a spa, and a screening room. Set at an angle between the corners of the two towers, the skybridge not only provides views outward, but also towards the towers, creating some intriguing corner spaces and providing residents a unique way to appreciate their special home.

The two slender towers look out to the river with narrow all-glass façades. Typical residential floor plan with skybridge in elevation below.
The buildings’ exteriors consist of 15 different façade panel “types,” due to the leaning and bending of the two towers’ dynamic shapes, yet only four different glass sizes were installed on all the standard floors. The punched windows on the copper faces create a moiré pattern that gestures toward the skybridge. Collectively, the façades span approximately 40,900 square meters, with nearly 23,900 square meters of glass and more than 17,000 square meters of copper panels used in the project.

Occupying a site that flooded during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, resiliency strategies were of central importance to the project’s design and execution. In advance of legal mandates that require mechanical systems to be installed above the floodplain elevation, the project team committed to creating a set of structures that will not just survive future disasters, but allow residents to live in comfort through them. One strategy employed was to install emergency generators in the top floor of the West Tower — replacing a penthouse — to ensure that each apartment would have enough energy from an emergency generator to power the refrigerator and one outlet in every apartment for a week.

The two-story skybridge houses a swimming pool spanning its entire length on its lower level. The glass-clad skybridge connects the two copper-clad towers, which will patina to a blue-green color with time.
The site is highly advantageous for its transportation options, offering residents immediate proximity to the nearby ferry and its expanded service, the QueensMidtown Tunnel, bike-share facilities, bus services, train stations, and even a local helicopter service, in addition to private valet parking.

Related Links
CTBUH Skyscraper Center Profile:
American Copper Buildings