685 First Avenue

An innovative residential tower for Manhattan activates the midtown skyline through dialogue with the city’s landmark buildings.

The singular form of 685 First Avenue is borne of a desire to create an iconic building unique to both midtown Manhattan and the city of New York. The project reflects an innovative yet timeless design that contributes to the history and influence of the city’s landmark buildings. The tower and its site are conceived together as a complete project, with the design anticipating a seamless integration with a planned public park along the East River waterfront. 

Located on a prominent site between East 39th and East 40th Streets on First Avenue, south of the United Nations Headquarters and adjacent to the East River, the 42-story, 460-foot-high residential tower provides 556 rental and condominium apartments and features panoramic views of the New York City riverfront. At street level, the project is designed to promote urban activity by providing retail space along First Avenue and a grand residential lobby with double height glazing that establishes a direct visual and physical connection with the surrounding context.

685 First Avenue is the studio’s first all-black glass building. The black glass unifies the tower’s surface, provides privacy for residents, and modulates reflections of the surrounding urban context.  The rigorous and minimalist geometry of the building’s skin maximizes window bays and modules to full floor-to-floor heights, eliminating any horizontal or vertical shadow panels and creating an exceptionally open and elegant façade.