Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

685 First Avenue

New York, New York

2015 - 2018

The 685 First Avenue site is a 32,365 SF parcel located between East 39th and East 40th Streets on First Avenue in New York City south of the United Nations Headquarters along the East River, a prominent location in Manhattan. The 42-story, 460-foot high residential tower will provide 556 rental and condominium apartments and will feature panoramic views of the New York City riverfront.

Minimalistic in form, great consideration is given to the materiality, lightness, transparency and order of this predominantly glass building. The idea of ‘façade as skin,’ a taut curtain wall incised with modular subdivisions is articulated with selective metal panel elements in the form of balconies, canopies and corners. A distinguishing feature is an architectural cut-out at the 27th and 28th floors, visible from across the East River delineating the program subdivision and in dialogue with the neighboring context buildings.

The singular form of 685 First Avenue is borne of a desire to create an iconic building unique to Midtown Manhattan and the city of New York. The project reflects an innovative and timeless design that contributes to the history and influence of the city’s landmark buildings. Iconic, transparent and minimal in expression, its style brings the open-layout feel of converted downtown industrial spaces uptown. It will be the first all-black glass building and the tallest tower in New York City designed by Richard Meier & Partners Architects in collaboration with East River Realty Development LLC.

At street level, the project is designed to promote urban activity by providing retail space along First Avenue and a grand residential lobby shared by all residents. The expansive glazing of the double-height lobby has a direct visual and physical connection with the surrounding context, the future public park and the East River. The light colored materials of this space rely on principles of light, order and geometry to create a modern and open space.

Refined and distinctive amenities located on the second floor include an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, kids play groom, tablet/work room, game room, private dining room, and lounge. These amenities and public spaces come alive with a rich palette of colors and textures, and tactile materials.

All living room and bedrooms in the building are configured to be as open as possible taking advantage of the generous views, and the light color palette of the interiors consists of whites, grays, and earth tones to go in hand with the smooth and textured surfaces of wood, plaster, and glass. The tower will be comprised of 408 rental units on floors 3-26, and 148 condominiums on floors 27-42. Rental units are designed with high quality kitchens and bathrooms and the condominium residences are detailed and equipped with finishes of the highest standards.

Window bays and modules are maximized in size to full floor-to-floor heights, altogether eliminating any horizontal or vertical shadow panels. Each module is subdivided further proportionally and geometrically into a system of operable window panels, joints and reveals, and mullion profiles that keep the façade open and elegant. The black glass unifies the façade, provides privacy for residents, and modulates the reflections of the context.

This is the first building of the Master Plan approved by New York City in 2008 that  allows for creation of a new residential enclave and public open space in a long-abandoned site in Manhattan along the East River.

Credits