After Decades of Planning, Manhattan West Finally Opens
Besides bringing six glassy towers and a public plaza to Midtown, the mixed-use development by Brookfield Properties provides a much-needed link between disparate parts of Manhattan that previously felt difficult to navigate.
Brookfield Properties has been working toward realizing Manhattan West, a $4.5 billion mixed-use development on the island’s West Side, for nearly four decades. After finally breaking ground in 2013 on an underutilized eight-acre plot of land atop underground tracks leading to nearby Penn Station, the complex finally opened yesterday.
Manhattan West brings six glassy new structures—four office buildings, a residential tower, and the Pendry Hotel—to an eight-acre swath of land centered around a public plaza with seating areas and greenery designed by James Corner Field Operations. The developers took clear-cut inspiration for the plaza from Manhattan West’s downtown counterpart, Brookfield Place, which also provides secluded public space within a mixed-use complex serving office workers, Battery Park City dwellers, and tourists. Though planned before the pandemic, the outdoor plaza became much more of a selling factor thanks to abundant open-air space for events, art installations, and expanded pedestrian space.
“We really wanted that outdoor experience to make it feel more like a New York neighborhood, and now, we actually feel pretty smart because everybody wants to be outdoors,” Callie Haines, EVP at Brookfield Properties, told the New York Business Journal. “As we’re showing tenants space in the office buildings, it’s been resonating with them in this post-Covid day and age.”
Despite the sheer enormity of Manhattan West’s buildings, traversing the plaza doesn’t quite feel like a canyon. Thank a dynamic street-level program of shops and restaurants, with terraces sitting above that cascade upward to visually obscure the towering architecture. Among the buildings are One and Two Manhattan West, two office skyscrapers designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Passersby have already been admiring the former’s show-stopping lobby, anchored by a giant travertine elevator bank that gently swells as it climbs toward the ceiling. Another office building is Five Manhattan West, a formerly maligned 1969 Brutalist structure that underwent a dramatic transformation by means of brand-new pleated glass facade thanks to Rex Architects. Though opening six million square feet of commercial space may feel inopportune during a pandemic, tenants such as Amazon, JP Morgan Chase, and Accenture have already moved in.
Located in a more understated building is the Pendry Hotel, the hospitality brand’s first offering in New York City, which sports interiors by Gachot Studios. A dramatic undulating glass-and-granite facade—the work of SOM—grants each of the 164 rooms a spacious bay window. A similar facade can be found over at the Eugene, a 62-story luxury residential tower that opened in 2019 and is already 98 percent leased. Residents and hotel guests will enjoy major amenities, including full access to Midnight Theater, an intimate performance space that will offer variety shows from the worlds of magic, music, comedy, and Broadway when it opens in October. Arts Brookfield, meanwhile, will plan free year-round public programming in the plaza, including the current Wonka-esque “Citrovia” installation of fake citrus trees that caters to the Instagram crowd.
Perhaps most notable about Manhattan West is how the development forms a crucial missing link between the Far West Side and the rest of the city, including the nearby Moynihan and Penn Station transit hubs, Madison Square Garden, Broadway and the Theater District, and the Chelsea gallery district. Situated directly between the Moynihan Train Hall and Hudson Yards, the complex unites a chain of pedestrian pathways that will even see the High Line extended to the site’s northernmost tip and eventually connected by a wooden truss bridge. “This development knits the city together,” says Kenneth A. Lewis, partner at SOM, which also designed the masterplan. “With the public spaces at Manhattan West now open, this urban corridor will bring new life to the Far West Side and form the spine of a vital, growing neighborhood.”
When planning the retail program, Brookfield Place was careful to make sure tenants complemented the assortment of luxury fashion and jewelry brands such as Fendi, Dior, and Tiffany offered across the street at Hudson Yards. Tenants skew toward health and wellness, including a Whole Foods Market, Peloton Store and Studios, and the skincare treatment studio Peachy. An NHL store, meanwhile, will manage a seasonal ice rink.
The dining options, however, are Manhattan West’s crown jewel, and including world-class offerings from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, multiple within the Citizens New York food hall designed by Rockwell Group, and Casa Dani by three-star Michelin chef Dani Garcia. “We’ve been eagerly anticipating the debut of Manhattan West—a key to unlocking and bridging the West Side’s potential as a destination neighborhood,” Meyer said in a statement. “The opening represents a pivotal moment of our city’s revival and gives us good reason to celebrate.”