Tremble Before Manhattan West, Mallhattan’s Newest Office Plaza & FoodFuntorium
The neatest part of Manhattan West, the eight-acre development that sits between Hudson Yards and the Farley Post Office Building, is the part you can no longer see. To build atop the active rail lines constantly carrying trains in and out of Penn Station first required laying down a 2.6 acre platform consisting of 16 separate, 400-ton concrete bridges. A special $7 million machine was brought from Italy, and the platform was completed with virtually no interruption to train service.
“When we started, we went to Amtrak and said that we want to build over here. They said, ‘Certainly. You have two hours every third Sunday,’” Henry Caso, the VP of construction for Brookfield Properties, recalled during a recent tour of Manhattan West, which was designed by SOM. “They weren’t joking, so we had to get really creative.” That was back in 2012, and the platform was completed two years later. The first of the development’s two 67-story office towers, One Manhattan West, opened on Halloween.
But if you wanted something interesting or stirring or particularly useful sitting atop your product of human ingenuity and infinite cash flow, you may want to look at Diller Island. Manhattan West is a really shiny office park in what we are now calling Mallhattan.
Mallhattan’s got it all: lines, crowds, Instagram opportunities (The High Line! Vessel!), and infinite ways to spend $35 on lunch. And it’s just steps from the agony of Penn Station and that other underground mall that the governor is building.
Is the massive hunk of exposed Italian travertine in the lobby of One Manhattan West cool? Yeah it’s cool, the same way a rare fossil weighing down a stack of papers on a mahogany desk is cool. The workers at Accenture, Ernst & Young, the National Hockey League, McKool Smith, and Skadden Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP (phew) will definitely admire it the first dozen times they tap their key cards. After that? Maybe it could use some stock tickers, or a row of flatscreens.
If those workers ever look up from their computers (One Manhattan West is 90 percent leased, while its sister tower to the south just got its “anchor tenant,” and it also recently secured $78 million in tax breaks from the city) they’ll be treated to stunning views of the city and Manhattan West’s luxury apartment building, The Eugene. Looking at the tiny, well-dressed Sims frolicking atop their really nice, unfortunately named castle is sure to stir feelings of aspiration and motivation or intense existential dread.
Between the two skyscrapers is a planned two-acre public plaza bookended by Five Manhattan West (office tenants include Amazon and JP Morgan Chase) designed by starchitect Joshua Prince-Ramus of REX. Five Manhattan West will have a food court (“Manhattan Eats”) and a Whole Foods, in addition to a really big Peloton. The food court and the plaza won’t open until the fall of 2020, but Brookfield is promising year-round arts programming akin to the events they throw at their mall, Brookfield Place.
Fun fact about One Manhattan East’s lobby: the sprinkler system is invisible. According to the architects, it took two years and lots of time and money before the city agreed to allow Brookfield to tuck them away behind the edges of the walls. When you’ve got more than $65 billion in total assets, anything’s possible!
Correction: This article initially stated that Two Manhattan West had not yet found its anchor tenant when in fact, last month, Cravath Swaine & Moore signed on the dotted line.