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Hines' Midtown MoMA Tower Has Been A Decade In The Making

There are several supertall towers (taller than 984 feet) on the rise in NYC, and we’ve been taking a look at what it takes to change the Big Apple’s skyline. Today, we’re taking a look at Hines, Pontiac Land Group and Goldman Sachs1,050-foot-tall 53W53, also known as the MoMA Expansion Tower.


The tower (originally known as Tower Verre) has been in development since 2007, after the Museum of Modern Art completed an $858M renovation. MoMA sold the tower’s 17k SF lot to Hines and Goldman Sachs in 2006 for $126M.

When initially proposed, the Jean Nouvel-designed tower was to stand at 1,250 feet and would include a hotel, as well as luxury condos and gallery space for MoMA. (For the unaware, Nouvel also designed the Philharmonie de Paris and the Louvre Abu Dhabi.)

This design encountered resistance from the community, which worried the massive tower would cast a shadow over Central Park, increase traffic congestion and damage the area’s residential communities. 

In response, the NYC Planning Commission declared it would only approve the tower if it was shortened by 200 feet. This standoff, alongside the global financial crisis, put the project on indefinite hold and was lamented by architecture critics. The revised, 1,050-foot plan was approved by the City Council in October 2009.


Financing was also an issue until October 2013, when Pontiac Land, run by the billionaire Kwee family, provided $200M in equity and became a development partner. The equity was supported by an $860M loan from a United Overseas Bank-led Asian bank consortium. 

Construction finally began in 2014, just after the developers acquired air rights from MoMA ($14M for 31k SF) and St. Thomas Church ($71M for 275k SF). Earlier this month, installation of the curtain wall began. Construction is progressing at a one-floor-per-week pace.

The 82-story, 750k SF building’s façade uses a series of crisscrossing steel beams. It also becomes increasingly narrow as it rises, giving every apartment a different layout.


All of the building’s 145 units are designed by Thierry Despont, and will have one- to four-bedroom options. Prices will range from about $3M for a one-bedroom to more than $70M for a top-floor duplex penthouse.

In addition to three floors and 52k SF of new MoMA gallery space occupying the second through fourth floors, the building will boast a fitness facility with a 65-foot lap pool, a lobby library with a fireplace, a children's playroom, a wine tasting room, a golf simulator, a movie theater, a squash court, a lounge with Central Park views, and an in-building restaurant, which tenants will have priority access to. A source told Bisnow that a deal is in the works for Italian restaurant Sant Ambroeus to run the restaurant space.

In addition to pantry stocking, housekeeping, pet walking and several other services available for additional fees, residents will be given special privileges at MoMA, including unlimited free admission to the museum, exhibition previews, discounts in MoMA stores and access to film screenings.

The building also has the ability to host private events in MoMA’s sculpture garden. The tower is slated to be completed in 2018.