For starters, it’s designed, developed, and funded by a prominent majority-Black and women-led team
The island of Manhattan boasts so many soaring towers, that it’s hardly news when a new one shoots up—even if its spire pierces the clouds. That said, now and then, there’s an exception in the form of an ambitious architectural masterpiece, like the west side’s new 90-story Affirmation Tower, a five-tiered, terrazzo-clad skyscraper that, upon closer inspection, appears to be upside down. Developed by Don Peebles (pictured on the right), the chief operating officer at the Peebles Corporation, and designed by AD100 architect Sir David Adjaye, Affirmation Tower is as symbolic as it is enormous (1,663 feet tall and two million square feet.) Not only is the statuesque mixed-use building developed, built, and funded by Black- and female-owned businesses, but its tenants will be minority entrepreneurs (with the exception of the local NAACP offices, among Affirmation Tower’s earliest tenants to move in).
The monumental tower, which will be moving into one of Manhattan’s last few acres of unoccupied land, gives Manhattanites another reason to venture toward the Hudson River. After all, there’s nothing anyone with an aching curiosity couldn’t do there: The Affirmation Tower will feature a skating rink, at least two hotels, an entertainment complex, and a rooftop eatery and ballroom.
Here are five reasons why the Affirmation Tower is shaking up New York’s real estate game in a big way:
A Majority-Black Team Is Leading the Project
Developed by Don Peebles and designed by Ghanaian British architect Sir David Adjaye, Affirmation Tower is the work of a majority-Black team, including those funding the project.
“A project like Affirmation Tower is long overdue for New York City. This project will be a beacon of diversity for generations to come, People of color and women make up the vast majority of this city’s population, but that representation is not reflected in the current architectural and development landscape. It is an all too rare opportunity for us to make the world’s most iconic skyline more inclusive than it’s ever been before.”Peebles notes
It’s the Tallest Building in New York City
Manhattan’s seemingly unchanging skyline has been dotted with iconic structures—the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and, as of 2014, One World Trade Center—but there’s a proverbial new kid on the block (or rather a 1.2-acre plot of state-owned land) that’s giving everyone across the Hudson something fabulous over which to fawn. Affirmation Tower is shaping up to be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, but the architect and developer held back for one specific reason: September 11, 2001. Out of respect for the 2,996 people who lost their lives on one of New York’s most tragic days, the team decided to make Affirmation Tower slightly shorter by spire height than One World Trade Center, a stunning tribute of remembrance and compassion. That said, the tower is taller by floor.
Minority- and Female-Owned Companies Are at the Forefront
The Affirmation Tower is more about reviving the American dream than it is about anything else. The team was keen on making such a dream accessible to everyone—especially those whose visions and voices tend to fall to the wayside, like those of women and people of color. The project’s partners agreed that they’d give more than 30% of construction work to minority and female contractors. They’re serious about New York City being a melting pot of economic and cultural inclusion—especially when it comes to the sites that represent the city itself.
Architect Sir David Adjaye Designed It
Sir David Adjaye is no stranger to eye-catching structures around the world—the Africa Institute in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates; The Webster in Los Angeles, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., to name a few—and his newest outpost fits in his repertoire of unusual, dramatic structures that are unequivocally backed by a powerful narrative. Adjaye certainly doesn’t have a palette or style to which he adheres, but he does have a signature: exceptionally bizarre shapes and demure yet noteworthy palettes. His newest project, Affirmation Tower, checks all of the boxes: It comprises five rectangular boxes that grow in size (from 15,000 to 30,000 square feet) as they climb toward the top of the tower. It almost looks like it may tip over on a windy day.
It’s an Ode to Black Culture
The boxes are clad in floor-to-ceiling glass windows that sit within a milky white terrazzo façade whose shape mimics afro picks, a subtle tribute to Black culture. Peebles admitted that he sees himself in the shape, as he carried such picks around during his early days in New York throughout the 1970s. The massive tower will house quite a few businesses, making Affirmation a destination for hospitality, retail, and commercial businesses (plus visitors who enjoy gushing over modern architecture), but perhaps the place people may enjoy the most is the plaza garden where beautiful tributes to historically significant Black New Yorkers stand proud.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest