Architectural firm FXCollaborative had a similar goal when they designed Jolie, a condominium being developed by Trinity Place Holdings at 77 Greenwich Street in the Financial District that is nearing completion.

“We didn’t have any real height restriction, but how tall and how thin you want to build it comes in handy,” said Matthew Messinger, President and CEO of Trinity Place Holdings. “This building is actually a little over 150 meters tall, but it has extremely competitive, attractive prospects,” he said. “We didn’t have to build a whole toothpick of a building.”

The team achieved their goal by installing a series of modest cantilever girders that stretched a total of 10 feet above the landmark Dickey House to the south (which Trinity Place Holdings restored as part of a new house for the Public School 150) and a pleated facade who has favourited views over the southern tip of Manhattan. “All eyes were to the southwest,” said Dan Kaplan, Senior Partner at FXCollaborative, “to the port, to the water, to the battery itself, to the Statue of Liberty.”

Building larger floor slabs at the top of the building also resulted in more floor space exactly where the builder wanted it – in larger, more expensive apartments. “It really made the floor plans at the top a lot better stepping over the Dickey house,” said Mr. Kaplan.

Restricted by building regulations, architects and builders use cantilever girders as a creative opportunity to achieve all possible advantages in an increasingly dense cityscape, even when it comes to structural gymnastics.

By making leftover airspace habitable, cantilevers can help overcome the constraints of a construction site, making them unique in a city like New York, where there is little vacant land. In most cases, it’s not just about making an architectural statement – it’s about finding a way to build more and more compelling homes.

“The really great thing about urbanism in New York City is that there are a set of rules and everyone can find a way to interpret the rules a little differently,” said Kaplan. “They find their clever way of working within the rules to create the skyline.”

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