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  • Nicholas McGinnis

A BMU fit for a Pyramid

Updated: Sep 13

VIA 57 West is a 467-foot-tallpyramid shaped residential building located at 625 West 57th Street in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan. The building was designed by the architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group and developed the Durst Organization. The steep slopes combined with the center courtyard created a unique challenge for the design of a system to maintain all the façades.

R&R Scaffolding, Ltd was selected to design, manufacture, and install three separate track-mounted carriage systems to access the sloped and vertical façades of the building.

The tracks/rails are located at the three ridges – north, east, and the southern ridge of the courtyards. The carriage traverses along the tracks/rail using a hoist located in the interior of the building. These hoists raise and lower the carriages along the length of the ridgeline.

The carriage at the north rail is supporting a30 Ft self-powered platform to cover as much of the north façade as possible. This 30 ft. platform can also be broken down to 10 ft. to navigate the intricate sawtooth pattern of the facade. The carriage arms fold to accommodate both lengths. The carriage can rotate 180° to permit access to sloped façade south of the ridge. On the sloped façade, with the 30 ft. platform, custom guides are used to prevent contact with the façade panels. When not in use, the carriage folds even further to be as invisible as possible.


The carriage at the east track solely services the east façade. This is located on the steepest part of the building, with an angle of 66 degrees. Similar to the north carriage, this carriage traverses the track using a hoist on the interior of the building. The carriage has two fixed boom arms which contain trolleys that can move along the boom to change the angle of the 10-foot platform so it can navigate the sawtooth pattern on the east façade.

The third carriage is mounted on a track along the southern ridge of the courtyard. This system services the sloped façade south of the rail. This carriage design differs greatly from that of the others, utilizing two davit arms connected to trolley like carriages on the track. The davits are kept at a constant distance of 32 feet with a length link. Like the other carriages, these track mounted davit assemblies also traverses the track using a hoist on the interior of the building. The davit arms are used to support the same 30-foot-long self-powered platform used with the carriage on the north track. These three systems, with the assistance of ground based aerial work platforms, grant access for cleaning of all façades on the building.


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