Mena Ahmed

MArch I

501(c)(3) Park

Advised by Iman Fayyad 

The rapid financialization of the skyscraper throughout the 20th century has turned the skyscraper into a machine itself, a generator of pure liquid commodity. “501(c)(3) Park” examines the modern skyscraper as a financial instrument, and the resulting phenomena of real estate speculation and ghost housing. In the case of 432 Park, the 1,396-foot-tall super-scraper in the heart of Manhattan, of which the majority is vacant but owned, the home is rendered mere artifact.  

“501(c)(3) Park” explores new potentials in luxury asset condominiums by tackling two phenomena simultaneously. The first being the vacancy rates of ultra-luxury residential properties and the second being the potential philanthropic value of high-net-worth individuals. Taking advantage of these opportunities, the project explores hybrid forms of habitancy that result in residential properties with civic functions that offer 501(c)(3) tax exemptions for the ultra-wealthy. This hybrid strategy is executed in the form of a tower that offers mutual value to both the owner and the community.  

The program of the civic space is a community library that is embedded into the penthouse apartments of 432 Park. Vacant condos are redesigned to accommodate tax exempt civic spaces. The goal of this project is to turn a parasitic relationship between the luxury real estate and the community they affect into a symbiotic design that allows for mutual gain. By turning the shell companies that own these units into private charitable foundations. The city regains some valuable civic spaces in areas that need them most, while the owners benefit from tax exempt estates and valuable “philanthropic” status and donor recognition. 

Ten square plans of buildings