Located in Chelsea, Manhattan at 515 West 18th Street, directly below the High Line, Lantern House, named for its interpretation of the modern bay window, puts in place a “site-specific freestanding sculptural glass lobby pavilion.”
The London-based studio was commissioned by Related Companies LP. in 2015 to design this new two-tower scheme—the firm’s first residential project in the United States.
In contrast to new glass apartment blocks that have sprung up along the High Line, the architects wanted to create a new type of residence: one that was reminiscent of the areas historical buildings, designed and built for permanency.
To archive this, they borrowed the idea of the humble bay window—a detail often found in Victorian and Edwardian era buildings. Adapting this established motif, they developed a doubleheight, stacked bay window held between robust brick piers. The three-dimensional windows are freed from corner columns, giving residents spectacular views out of light-filled rooms, as well as a domestic stability.
With facades of plain glass panes, vertical metal mullions and bricks, the architects brought together materials from Chelsea’s rich industrial heritage in an imaginative way. They developed a special range of brick to give the project a unique patina, paired with careful detailing that includes bullnose edges and real brick soffits. These every-day, robust materials create apartments that feel sturdy and properly built.
Because the building site was split in half by the High Line, the architects gave the two towers a shared, memorable entrance.
The lobby is gently slung between east and west, pierced by the massive railway columns and enveloped by the distinctive lantern-like windows. At ground level, retail spaces eschew the overwhelming size of New York’s plate-glass windows. Instead, bay windows wrap the corner site to give human-scaled shops with divisible tenancies.
“People love to live in memorable places. As the High Line’s amazing riveted steel structure goes straight through the middle of our site, we knew we mustn’t miss the chance to borrow all its texture and character to make an idiosyncratic arrival experience for the building’s resident,” states Thomas Heatherwick.
“To not compete with the soulful materiality of this historic piece of infrastructure, we designed a lobby that barely touches it and is slung from the east building to the west, with a roof structure that gently drapes, like a piece of textile. With the legs of the High Linelacing through, we hope that the lobby will provide a special welcome for residents and importantly, create a sense of returning home to a place like no other.”
Architect: Thomas Heatherwick
Architects of Record: SLCE Architects
Client: The Related Companies, LLC.