PARA, together with Stereo Architects, HWKN, L.E.FT, Phu Hoang Office, and WORKac received first prize in the Open Fort Competition organized by the NAi.

A Bureaucratic Loophole
The urban legacy of New York is often attributed to the verticality of the skyscraper and the horizontality of the grid.  Yet, despite their technological and organizational achievements, Manhattan’s greatest contribution to the discourse of the city is, unsurprisingly, bureaucratic in nature.  The 1916 zoning code responded to the growth of buildings by instituting setbacks and a sky exposure plane.  While the regulation was intended to serve the public welfare of the street it inadvertently created wedding cake islands, phallic enclaves of wealth.



The proposed dome enclosure for the Open Fort site creates a unique interior urbanity for Amsterdam – one that locates the space of the public within rather than beside the towers. In this new context New York’s zoning code can be reconsidered for the benefit of a block rather than the street. By exporting New York’s regulatory legacy to Amsterdam the wedding cake is inverted; the void figures of Manhattan’s skyline carving out the tower’s public core.


The façade reinforces the tower’s competing identities: A fixed glass curtain-wall sampled from a conventional New York tower and a literal flexible curtain of reflective gold beads that drapes the inverted wedding cake.  While the rigid glass curtain-wall fronts the domes exterior, the soft supple curtain faces the tower’s public void.


Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Program: Office block of 5 towers (1 tower per team)

PARA team: Jon Lott, Brian Price

Masterplan team: Stereo Architects

Other towers by: WORKac, HWKN, L.E.FT, Pho

Status: 1st place competition entry

Client: NAi

All images © PARA

Image #2, courtesy Stereo Architects

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