Residents fight developer who bought MoMA’s air rights to build skyscraper

The fate of the proposed building is up in the air


The fate of a Jean Nouvel-designed skyscraper, which if built would include galleries and service space for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), now lies in the hands of New York State Supreme Court.

A petition, initiated in late February by the West 54-55 Street Block Association, the Coalition for Responsible Midtown Development and several local residents, accuses the tower’s developer, the Hines Corporation, of not complying with the city’s environmental conservation laws. Hines purchased the site from MoMA in 2007 for $125m and initial plans for a smaller building were superseded by Nouvel’s Tower Verre (right), designed to house—in addition to nearly 50,000 sq. ft for the museum—a hotel, restaurant and around 300 apartments.

Nearby resident Justin Peyser said: “Hines bought this land at the top of the market, and now to get out of hot water they had to build this tower.” Hines said it had “no comment on the project at this time”. In May, the company claimed that it “took a ‘hard look’ at all of its potential significant environmental impacts”.

On 10 June the West 54-55 Street Block Association asked the court to “annul the city’s approvals of the Hines Tower”.

A ruling is expected by the autumn. A spokeswoman for MoMA said: “Nothing has changed with regard to the sale of the air rights to Hines,” adding that the museum declined to comment on the petition.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'MoMA's neighbours up the ante'