Over the last two decades, a new type of building has invaded New York City: The super skinny supertall known as a “super-slender.” This new generation of skyscrapers range from 50 to 100 stories, are almost uniformly filled with luxury housing—and some are wedged into the city with astoundingly tiny 45-feet-wide footprints.
An update of 2013 exhibition at the Skyscraper Museum in New York looks at how the slender movement came to be: from the air rights laws that made them possible, to the design innovations that allow architects to build such spindle-thin towers.
“Slenderness” is an actual term by engineers that historically describes a structure with a 1:10 or 1:12 ratio when comparing a building’s width to its height. In the last few years, newer buildings have been able to achieve even more jaw-dropping ratios. The SHoP-designed 111 57th Street has a ratio of 1:23! This will make it the most slender building in the world.
Although some of these towers are going to be among the tallest in the US—depending on who you ask, the Nordstrom Tower will just barely top 1 WTC for Western Hemisphere bragging rights—they’re still in the shadows of the world’s tallest structures. Here you can see how the super-slenders compare to some of the supertalls and superbigs (I just made up that last term). One can only imagine that as advances in engineering and elevator tech progress, we’ll soon be seeing buildings as tall as the Burj that are only a handful of yards wide. It gives me vertigo just thinking about it.