These copper-clad luxury apartment buildings — complete with an amenity-filled skybridge — will gradually turn green over time

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The American Copper Buildings, still under construction, will make a distinctive mark on the Manhattan skyline as seen from the East River.
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JDS Development

There’s a new luxury residential development going up at 626 First Avenue in Manhattan, and it’s composed of the two largest copper-clad buildings in the world.

Also unusual is that the buildings’ 761 units will only be available to rent, not to buy.

The American Copper Buildings are two “dancing” copper-faced towers, connected 300 feet up by a giant, three-story skybridge. That skybridge is the first of its kind to be built in Manhattan in the last 80 years.

And unlike many skybridges, which generally serve as footpaths between buildings, this one is a destination in and of itself: it houses the bulk of the buildings’ 60,000 square feet of super-luxury amenities, which include a lap pool, fitness center, lounge, and climbing wall. Residents will also get double-sided views of the Manhattan skyline to the west and East River and Brooklyn to the east.

But it’s the exteriors that will probably draw the most attention.

“It’s kind of a performance art piece for the city as a whole,” said Gregg Pasquarelli, a principal at SHoP Architects, which designed the project. The distinctive copper facing will soon lose its lucky-penny luster and “turn green before our eyes” over the course of the next 20 to 30 years, Pasquarelli said to Business Insider.

The 761-unit project is being developed and constructed by JDS Development Group. Leasing will open up towards the end of 2016, and although pricing has not yet been released, it’s likely to fall in line with Manhattan’s other major luxury towers, with units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms.


The two towers — one at 40 stories tall, and one at 49 — have an unusual “bendy” structure. They look like they’re leaning or veering away from each other, giving them a dynamic, warped appearance.

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Field Condition – JDS Development

This rendering shows the expected reflective quality of the towers once they’re newly completed. In total, the project is about 900,000 square feet of interior space, with 761 rent-only units.

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JDS Development

It took a while to source all the copper, which ended up coming primarily from Germany, the developers said. Over 5,000 panels are being used to make up the facade.

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Field Condition – JDS Development

SHoP was drawn to the “living” quality of the copper, which will tarnish and turn a distinctive green color over the course of the next few decades.

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Courtney Verrill

Here’s an up-close view of one of those shiny copper panels: they’re about 10 feet by 6 feet.

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Courtney Verrill

The three-story skybridge is still very much under construction. It will house the two-story fitness center, a lounge, a lap pool, and also much of the towers’ mechanical systems.

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Courtney Verrill

A rendering shows the completed skybridge between the two towers.

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JDS Development

On a preview tour last week, we could see the projected location of the amenities, like this Whirlpool hot tub that will have East River views.

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Courtney Verrill

To construct the towers, the developers had to reroute the river to put in the foundation; this is technically “oceanfront property,” said Simon Koster, a principal at JDS Development.

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Courtney Verrill

The finished 75-foot lap pool will look something like this. There’s also going to be an outdoor infinity pool on the roof of one of the towers.

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JDS Development

The fitness center, meanwhile, will look west towards the Empire State Building.

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Courtney Verrill

It’s an enviable view.

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Courtney Verrill

A climbing wall (seen on on the left in this rendering) will be an added bonus in the luxury fitness center. There will also be a yoga and pilates studio, juice and health bar, and personalized training services.

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JDS Development

Right now, the east side of Manhattan is “playing catch up” with the luxury development on the west side, as seen in the many high-profile residential buildings that have popped up around the High Line and in Chelsea in recent years, the developers said.

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Courtney Verrill

But they’re confident that the East River will soon become the “central” river, especially given the Brooklyn developments just across the water, putting the American Copper Buildings in prime location.

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Courtney Verrill

SHoP has a second East River project in-progress with the Domino Sugar Factory site just across the water in Brooklyn. They’re also responsible for the plans of Piers 15 and 17, and the Hunter’s Point South site in Queens — all New York waterfront projects.

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Courtney Verrill

Source: SHoP


Here’s a look at the planned lounge space on the skybridge.

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JDS Development

One further amenity: a marble-faced “hammam” with plunge pool.

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JDS Development

The space at the base of the towers and underneath FDR Drive is being transformed into a public-access park commissioned by the City of New York, starting with Pier 15 and the East River Esplanade South.

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Field Condition – JDS Development

Over time, and especially as it gains its green patina, these buildings will definitely be a distinctive part of the Manhattan skyline.

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JDS Development