MVRDV creates a colorful vertical village in Manhattan’s Washington Heights

MVRDV Radio Hotel and Tower 32 © Ossip van Duivenbode

MVRDV creates a colorful vertical village in Manhattan’s Washington Heights

Radio Hotel and Tower, the first completed project by Durch architectural firm MVRDV in the United States, has been recently opened in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood.

Above: MVRDV, Radio Hotel and Tower; photo by Ossip van Duivenbode.

The two distinctive elements of this interesting multifunctional building – which accommodates a hotel, offices, and various amenities –  are the use of colors and its peculiar architecture composed of several boxes, stacked on one another, each of which echoes the aspect of one of the nearby city blocks.

In Radio Hotel and Tower, MVRDV skilfully combined glazed brick-clad boxes different in size, proportions, window spacing, and color. The idea was that, by adopting a stacked configuration to create a “vertical village”, as MVRDV calls it, the large tower would not overwhelm the surroundings; an additional benefit of this solution is that, for each block, it also creates multiple outdoor terraces on the roofs of the blocks below.

The eight colors selected for the exterior (but also the interiors are quite colorful) -e reminiscent of the neighborhood’s popular shopfronts – help identify the various functions of the building.
The most vivid colors – green, yellow, blue, red, and orange – were used for the upper blocks, while ceramic tiles with more soft colors – plum, teal, and grey-brown – clad the street-level facades.

Overall, the project is a celebration of Washington Heights and its community of about 150,000 people and does not want to set it apart from the urban character of the neighborhood. As Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV, says:

“Washington Heights has a unique and exciting character, very different from the other Manhattan neighborhoods further south. The design of Radio Hotel and Tower is inspired by that character – we took the smaller blocks that are typical in the neighborhood and stacked them into a vertical village. Add to that the bright colors that you see all around the area, and the project is like a beacon celebrating this part of the city.”

MVRDV Radio Hotel and Tower 29 © Ossip van Duivenbode

MVRDV Radio Hotel and Tower 1 © Ossip van Duivenbode

Two views of the Radio Hotel and Tower designed by MVRDV; photographs by Ossip van Duivenbode, courtesy of MVRDV.

01A_concept diagram_urban axo

A conceptual diagram of the Radio Hotel and Tower; courtesy of MVRDV.

MVRDV Radio Hotel and Tower 9 © Ossip van Duivenbode

MVRDV Radio Hotel and Tower 33 © Ossip van Duivenbode

MVRDV Radio Hotel and Tower 16 © Ossip van Duivenbode

MVRDV Radio Hotel and Tower 22 © Ossip van Duivenbode

MVRDV Radio Hotel and Tower 8 © Ossip van Duivenbode

MVRDV Radio Hotel and Tower 19 © Ossip van Duivenbode

MVRDV Radio Hotel and Tower 27 © Ossip van Duivenbode

Exterior and interior views of the Radio Hotel and Tower; photos by Ossip van Duivenbode, courtesy of MVRDV.

Radio-Hotel-and-Tower-04_color reference diagram

Radio Hotel and Tower; a preliminary study investigated the neighborhood’s recurring colors; courtesy of MVRDV.

Radio-Hotel-and-Tower-05_axo diagram

MVRDV, Radio Hotel and Tower, an axonometric drawing detailing the relation between each color and its corresponding function; image courtesy of MVRDV.

MVRDV Radio Hotel and Tower 5 © Ossip van Duivenbode

The Radio Hotel and Tower in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood; photo by Ossip van Duivenbode, courtesy of MVRDV.


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