40 Percent of Manhattan’s Buildings Would Be Unbuildable Today

Posted On Fri, May 20, 2016 By

Posted On Fri, May 20, 2016 By In Architecture, History, Policy, Urban Design

720 Park Avenue could not be built today. Image via Google Maps

Many feel that the city’s current construction boom is unprecedented, but while towers may be reaching new heights, according to a new report by architecture firm KPF, nearly three-quarters of the city’s existing square footage was actually built between the 1900s and 1930s. More interestingly, The Times points out that forty percent of the buildings that currently make up Manhattan could not be built today because they break at least one zoning code violation—among which include being too tall, having too many residential units, or having too much commercial space.

new york buildings that violate building codesMap created by the NYT

The paper’s delve into the topic is in celebration of the New York’s zoning code, which turns 100 years old this year. It was the first of it’s kind in the country when it was approved in 1916, and was primarily introduced in order to quell the growing number of dirty, cramped tenements and office buildings that were rising across the city. Since then, the rules have been hacked and amended countless times to keep up with the times, giving us the modern constructions and constraints we know today—namely those related to density.

720 park avenue

While there are plenty of anecdotes and interesting facts to be found in the story, one that really stands out (on top of the aforementioned) is that Rosario Candela‘s stunning 720 Park Avenue would be unbuildable today under current zoning because it’s way too bulky. Today’s 720 would be much shorter and much slimmer under current codes.

The same can actually be said for much of the construction found around the Upper West and Upper East Sides. Many of the city’s most beautiful blocks would not exist under today’s zoning codes.

Read the whole thing here and be sure to explore the interactive maps.

[Via NYT]

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