noun \pē-ˌā-də-ˈter, -ˌā-dä-; ˌpyā-dä-\
-A small house or apartment that you own or rent in a city other than that where your primary home is located, in which you stay when visiting that city for a short time.
-French for “foot on the ground”
Owning a piece of New York or “putting a foot in the city” has become a shared aspiration for the global rich, from traditional American and European buyers to cash-flush Russians, Chinese, Middle Easterners, and Brazilians. In recent years, the demand for these super-elite luxury apartments has increased dramatically, creating a whole new typology of skyscraper, the “superslenders,” which are rising on the New York skyline.
The purchase of these trophy apartments is largely a status symbol, therefore competition for them arises not from a necessity for dwelling but from a battle of the egos. The proliferation of these properties has left large areas of the city “owned but not used.” Ghostly towers stand with dark windows, seemingly abandoned but ironically “SOLD OUT.” According to the New York Times, “In one part of [Midtown], between East 53rd and 59th Streets, more than half of the 500 apartments are occupied for two months or less. That is a higher proportion than in resort and second-home communities”
The problem with this is that not only is valuable real estate essentially wasted, but a high demand for these buildings makes them more profitable to construct than badly needed affordable housing that would address the city’s rampant housing shortages. Some have suggested a tax on pieds-à-terre to deter potential buyers, but the logic behind this is flawed, as extra costs will only serve to make these properties seem more elite, and therefore, more desirable.
The Golden Loop represents a satirical perspective on the extravagance and wastefulness of these real estate practices. As opposed to taxation or regulation, the project will engage these properties directly by providing access, both visually and physically, to otherwise forbidden domains. The goal of the project is to re-incorporate the territories lost to the insatiable appetite of the super-elite back into the public sphere by allowing universal access to the amenities that they hoard. Through the act of occupation instead of inhabitation, we are left to contemplate how these two vastly different worlds can exist simultaneously, oblivious to each other’s existence.
To illustrate the problem with pied-à-terres, golden volumes have been stacked onto the most significant residences, representing the percentage of each building that consist of underutilized homes. The volumes are, in fact, layered striations spaced 10 feet (3 meters) apart (a typical floor-to-ceiling height) to illustrate the magnitude of the phenomenon.
The project’s intervention, an elevated promenade that circles Central Park South and “Billionaire’s Row,” shows how, through occupation instead of inhabitation, the city can gain back its lost space. Through a series of catwalks and elevators that branch off towards each building, views previously reserved for penthouses will be opened to the public, liberating vistas from empty windows.
In a city short on space, The Golden Loop makes use of pied-à-terres while owners are absent, blurring the lines between what is public and private, and providing a setting to contemplate how the other half lives.
Project Lead: Song (Steven) Ren
Iñaqui Carnicero and Lorena Del Rio of RICA*
RICA* is a young architectural office and a platform for design investigation operating across many scales and searching for the potential of creativity regardless of the size or budget of the project. Based in Madrid and San Francisco, RICA* represents a new phase for Iñaqui Carnicero and Lorena del Río, who together have extensive and diverse building experience. www.ricastudio.com.
Iñaqui Carnicero (Madrid, 1973) is an awarded architect with a PhD from Polytechnic University of Madrid. Carnicero has lectured at prestigious institutions such as Cornell, Harvard GSD, Rice, Berkeley, NJIT, Carleton, Roma Tre, La Sapienza, Calgary, Cervantes Institute in Prague, London Roca Gallery, Barcelona La Salle, Madrid ETSAM, Sevilla, and Navarra University. He is the director of “Symmetries,” an architecture platform that relates Roman and contemporary strategies in the city.
Lorena del Río (Madrid, 1981) is an architect educated at Polytechnic University of Madrid, ETSAM, where she received her degree in 2008, and where is she also developing her PhD. Lorena has participated in reviews and lectures at several universities, including MIT, Cooper Union, the University of Buffalo, New York City College, the University of Houston, NYIT, and the University of Puerto Rico. She also lectured at the fourth edition of Campus Ultzama, organized in the summer of 2015.
Song (Steven) Ren is a Bachelor of Architecture student entering his third year at Cornell University. He has a keen eye for detail and broad expertise in areas such as virtual reality design and computer hardware. He previously worked with RICA* on the Spanish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
Each of the drawings that accompany the 30 models in Sharing Models: Manhattanisms will be auctioned throughout the duration of the exhibition. Proceeds support Storefront’s ongoing programming in New York and internationally. BID ONLINE HERE.