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.



  1. I hope Tribeca gets its own “Cloud Gate” – it will be amazing.

  2. This is just hideous, I am not a fan of the ultra modern glass buildings.
    Since TriBeCa is a historic district I think there should be a strict oversight on the design of these new buildings. I believe all new developments should conform to the original neighborhood style.
    Of course I am talking as a resident of the neighborhood rather than a real estate developer/broker…

  3. The building is incredible. Can’t wait for it to go up. Tribeca is a mixed bag of old and new. That IS the character of the neighborhood. We should encourage boldness in design rather than the disgusting homages to historical facades (see 66 Franklin).

    What would you prefer they build there? A faux four story warehouse flush with a wooden loading dock and matching horse trough? This lot abuts NY Law School and is across the street from an NYC admin building. The historical character of that block has long since been compromised.

    Lastly, who would oversee the design oversight? CB1? You? Landmarks and Pres? Jim Smithers? Given that our community leadership fails to properly oversee sidewalk seating, I’d steer clear of giving them any further oversight authority.

  4. What a gorgeous and glamorous building! I can’t wait until it’s up.

  5. @ Alan, I respectfully disagree. Looking at the monstrosity of some of the new buildings on the Bowery. I would not encourage baldness that will disgrace our streets for years to come.

    88 Laight, is an example of how a modern building does not fit well with the old, but I know there are other examples that will prove me wrong.

    I must admit that I was revolted by the Gehry building for quite sometime. I am not sure if I actually grew to like it or it just grew on me, like a fungus…..

  6. Oh yea, because the Bowery is so gorgeous and those new modern buildings ruined it….. lol.

    Are you blind?

  7. @Asaf – this NIMBY stuff has to stop. New York is a dynamic city that will continue to grow and change long after you and I are gone. The way the neighborhood WAS is over. We are in a new century with new ideas, and this is a beautiful one. Learn to embrace change, be flexible and let go of the past, man. You will be all the happier for it!

  8. Couldn’t agree more with Erik, Alan, Alexander and Steve. When the Woolworth Building was built it was probably considered cutting-edge. This neighborhood is fascinating and stimulating because (not in spite of) the diversity of styles. It’s very cool to have buildings built in different centuries in close proximity to each other. And I agree that “faux” 19th century buildings would be very tacky….