551 West 21st Street

New York, USA

551 West 21st Street is a 19-story, 41-unit residential tower located in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The interior layout evokes a sense of luxury and traditional family living with an enhanced sense of privacy, security and comfort.


In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, the design team undertook an immediate review of the building’s resiliency and hardiness against future storm events. Since the project site was located within Flood Zone A, it was found that without significant alteration, the building and its MEP systems would not be capable of providing sufficient resiliency to sustain safe and uninterrupted operation during a comparable storm event.

As part of this, an MEP system design impact assessment was undertaken that provided the owners with a series of design options that could be reviewed and decided upon for implementation into the design.

Image: Foster + Partners


Buro Happold used inventive design techniques to construct a stunning exterior for the new 76-meter tower, allowing for natural daylight while maximizing interior quiet. To achieve this, Buro Happold’s facade design specialists created a highly aesthetic mix of light and privacy by cutting milled glass to form and employing it at the podium level.

To avoid facade build up and create more living space, Buro Happold pre-fabricated a megapanel system for the tower levels. Installed on site, the large glazing panels kept the exterior refined and allowed for the partial integration of MEP elements, maximizing interior square footage. The minimal facade meant we could insert an acoustic layer into each glass window resulting in a 39db OITC rating, offering residents the coveted silence usually only achieved with double glazing.

Buro Happold recommended the elevation of all critical equipment to improve the building’s resilience against another ‘Storm Sandy’. Image: Foster + Partners
The upgraded MEP systems were partially integrated into the design, allowing the interior to remain uncluttered. Image: Foster + Partners


The team’s proposal included the elevation of all critical equipment within the constraints of the current zoning and NYC building codes while promoting an elegant and community conscious design.

high end residential property in new york
Large glazing panels incorporate an acoustic layer, maximising interior quiet for residents. Image: fosterpartners

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