Here Comes the Jenga Building

At last night’s meeting of Community Board 1’s Tribeca Committee—the rest of the Unofficial Minutes will be done soon—representatives for U.S. Lend Lease, the construction manager for 56 Leonard, the long-stalled-and-now-revived “Jenga Building” at the southwest corner of Church, said that construction could start as early as next week if the permits got lined up. They said that Herzog & de Meuron’s plans have not substantially changed, although the street-level Anish Kapoor sculpture wasn’t in their scope so they couldn’t confirm it was still happening.

At 830 feet, the 146 unit, 57-story building will be the tallest in Tribeca. The good news is that the excavation and foundation work were completed pre-stall, so once Con Edison vaults are finished, they can start with structural work. The bad news is that the project is expected to take four years, because the building’s many cantilevers make for slow going. The timetable they set out is as follows:

• October–December 2012: Con Ed vaults and foundation remediation
• December 2012–August 2014: Superstructure
• November 2012–January 2016: Mechanical, electrical, plumbing and sprinklers
• July 2013–April 2015: Façade
• August 2013–January 2016: Interiors
• Completion: Spring 2016.

After a predictable interlude decrying how such a building could be allowed to happen, much of the conversation was about to what extent Leonard and Church will be impacted by trucks. The construction will take one up lane of Church, and a second lane from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. But most operations will be on Leonard. U.S. Lend Lease has set up a hotline (212-448-3982) that people with complaints can call, expecting a call back in “24 to 48 hours.”

There will be a small retail space on the ground floor, and a garage for tenants on the second floor.

Near the end of the discussion, a spectator sitting next to me leaned over and said how terrible she thought it was. I said I thought it was amazing, one of the most striking buildings I’ve seen in years, and I welcomed it with open arms. She said she had never seen the design. I suggested she check it out—even the website is a thing of beauty.