Steinway Tower: New York salutes the world’s thinnest skyscraper

A record-setting 1,428 feet (435 metres) tall and just 57 feet (17.9 metres) wide, Manhattan’s latest tower has just unveiled its finishing touches

If you suffer from vertigo, you can’t live in the Triplex Penthouse 72, a three-story penthouse with 360-degree views of Manhattan and Central Park.

This is the stairway to heaven, to quote the famous Led Zeppelin song, atop the skyscraper that –according to the architects who designed it – aims to rewrite the philosophy of the New York City skyline.

The Triplex Penthouse 72 is a 7,130-square-foot (662-square-metre) apartment with 1,367 square feet (129 square metres) of private open-air loggia space and a price tag of $66 million. It sits atop of the Steinway Tower, the world’s thinnest skyscraper that unveiled its finishing touches a few days ago in the Big Apple, just steps away from the greenery of Central Park.

The tower is named after Steinway & Sons, the famous maker of pianos, and stands next to Steinway Hall, built in 1925 inside what was once the headquarters of the piano maker. And so, as harmonious as a musical instrument, the incredible skyscraper defies the laws of physics by soaring 1,428 feet or 435 metres in height, but with a base side of just 57 feet (17 meters). This nearly transparent spindle stuck in the heart of Manhattan has already left its mark on the New York City skyline.

Luxury and exclusivity in a record-breaking tower

Modernity and tradition. This oft-abused pairing was the inspiration for SHoP Architects, commissioned to design the skyscraper. If modernity is naturally expressed by the innovative features of this building, tradition is in its very essence, expressed mainly through the interior furnishings. The individual dwellings and the common spaces are all inspired by the golden age of Manhattan skyscrapers, namely the Art Deco style that still lives on in icons of the Big Apple such as Rockefeller Center. The dream is to turn back the hands of time to the Gilded Age, to the last years of the 19th century when New York City was fertile ground for industrial tycoons like Andrew Carnegie and Cornelius Vanderbilt. To do so, the SHop firm focused more than ever on luxury — the one resident that no one will ever be able to evict from the Big Apple. And so, the world’s thinnest building houses just one apartment on each of its 84 floors with prices ranging from $7.7 million (€7.7 million) to the penthouse’s $66 million (€66 million).

“We’ve all been to luxury places, but in this case, I wanted to create a unique experience that could only be had in New York: a building that didn’t exist anywhere else in the world,” William Sofield, founder and partner of Sofield Studios, which designed the skyscraper’s interiors, told CNN.

Steinway Tower: vertigo in the heart of Manhattan

The sense of vertigo that catches in your throat on the top floor of the Penthouse is the same one you get when walking in front of 111 West 57th Street and lifting your eyes to the sky.

In addition to being so skinny that it looks like it could break at any moment, the Steinway Tower is shaped like a spindle that gets thinner and thinner as it reaches for the sky. The idea — the designers explained — was that the skyscraper should gradually disappear into the air, leaving no trace.

The architects sought a bold new interpretation of the New York skyline, and “a project of extraordinary proportions and epic grandeur,” explained Gregg Pasquarelli of SHoP Architects.

Building on this concept, the firm designed a building that is futuristic even in its materials. The pillars that make up its structure are made of glazed terracotta that can change color according to the angle of the sun and in this way offer totally different light effects at different times of day.

From crisis to recovery

The story of the Steinway Tower closely resembles the story of New York City, a city in perpetual search of a new beginning. Indeed, behind the grandeur of the new building is a complex history of failure, crisis, abandonment, and starting again. Investcorp bought the building adjacent to the Steinway Building for $23 million in 2005, selling it the following year to Starwood Capital Group, which was to demolish it to build a luxury hotel. In 2008, however, the project was halted due to the financial crisis that hit the United States, until Starwood sold its majority stake in the complex in 2012. In late 2012 Steinway & Sons also announced that it would sell the Steinway Building immediately next door for $46 million. At that point, a joint venture of large real estate firms took over the entire complex and in 2013 announced the Steinway Tower project. Construction began in 2014, suffered a setback in 2020 due to Covid-19, and then started again. The finishing touches were put on the tower in recent weeks, when Manhattan was able to greet its new record-breaking skyscraper.