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Evan Douglis Studio
el Tower

UPS Building Competition
Manhattan, New York, United States


As cities become increasingly more important as significant cultural attractors, centers of economic power, and exemplars of environmental resilience, the challenges facing adaptive reuse as a major component of any successful urban renewal initiative represents a major priority for architects and planners at the turn of the century.


In response to this call for action, reimagining the vast usable air space currently situated above pre-existing buildings as virgin territory for the new city constitutes an extraordinary design opportunity for an urban visionary. Often encountered as a simple economic transaction between two parties concerning the exchange of air-rights, the larger promise at stake is not the fetishization of our city skyline as a growing collection of monumental icons, which is all too common, but re-envisioning public green space as a new form of elevated infrastructure dramatically revitalizing the future of urban life.

Seeking to find the proper architectural expression, the el-Tower project called for a colossal open-air roof top membrane to be erected over an existing seven story three-block long industrial building located on the lower Westside of Manhattan. Conceived as a new typology of hybridized membranes, the surface simultaneously operates at the scale of urban-massing, accessorized ornament, and an environmentally controlled bounding boxs regulating the micro-climate for a semi-enclosed outdoor space below.


Building Systems

The dia-grid was selected in order to optimize the structural and ornamental performance of the building systems.

Additional water-jet cut metal accessory plates attached to the primary structure serve as shading devices in response to microclimate considerations. A new roof truss was to be installed on top of the existing building in order to accommodate for new circulation cores, added structural stability, and new mechanical, plumbing and electrical lines.



In collaboration with Arup Engineers, the proposed design reflects the integration of structural, environmental and fabrication considerations.


Richard Sarrach, Dave Mans,

Che-Wei Wang, Pete Van Hage,

Jeremy Carvalho


Tubular steel tubing dia-grid structure
Water jet cut, powder-coated aluminum accessory plates
Steel frame and precast concrete hotel tower
Glass and metal curtain wall
Steel columns
Free-standing store pavilions (by others)
New structural and mechanical roof space frame

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