French ‘Vision Machine’ Starts Rising in Chelsea

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Photo: Image: dbox

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Image: Archpartners

"Nothing has ever been built like it in NYC," says Jean Nouvel's publicist of a project the French starchitect has designed for 19th Street and the West Side Highway, and though it's a publicist's job to say that, she might actually be right. Nouvel, a perennially mentioned Pritzker Prize contender, announced that construction has begun — and released the first renderings — on the same day Richard Rogers won the 2007 prize. Is it a recyclable takeout rice container? No, it's a "Vision Machine," an energy-efficient skyscraper in which, to quote the publicist, "every single pane has been figured out to correspond to an interior space and no two are alike."

Nouvel dreamed up 1,700 distinct pieces of glass for the 23-story tower's façade and a seven-story protruding base, hereinafter dubbed the "loggia," in which apartments will include nonpareil terraces, some with their very own trees. The building will oblige residents to pass through three mood zones to get to the elevator, and although the press release notes some black brick cladding to honor nearby buildings' "industrial character," this looks as bound to its moment as the Chelsea Piers hardbodies parking across the street. Occupancy is slated for fall 2008. Lord Rogers, your move. —Alec Appelbaum



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Image: Ateliers Jean Nouvel


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Image: Ateliers Jean Nouvel

CORRECTION, March 29: Jean Nouvel did not win the 2006 Pritzker Prize, as this item originally stated. Also, the building is going up at 19th Street and the West Side Highway, not 23rd Street, as originally stated.