New York City, a city seriously lacking in space, may not appear to have much wiggle room when it comes to new building projects. From an architect’s eye, however, creativity and forward thinking come together to build amazing spaces that have purpose in the Big Apple. Sustainability remains high on the list of must-haves for upcoming architectural developments using solar technologies, low-energy building methods, and renewable materials whenever possible. The following architectural trends are paving the way for the future of New York City.

The “Skinny Scraper” is on the rise

SHoP Architects, based in New York, is working on a project in Midtown at 111 West 57th Street that will not only be one of the tallest buildings in the city, but one of the skinniest skyscrapers in the world. Set to be complete in 2018, this building will span only 58 feet wide and over 1,400 feet tall. Anything taller than 1,968 is classified as “megatall” and is not permitted in the U.S. Extremely skinny buildings like this one can help New York City’s housing shortage. Due to the decreased amount of space that a narrow building requires, New York can expect to see more of these in the future since the city has available lots of this compact size.

Creative use of unused space

Since New York is known for being one of the most densely populated cities in the United States, getting creative with unused areas is key for architectural success.

An underground terminal, located directly below Delancey Street near the Manhattan bridge, was originally opened in 1908 for trolley passengers until 40 years later when trolley service came to a halt. This space has been unused ever since. Co-Founders James Ramsey and Dan Barasch saw this location as the perfect location for the world’s first underground park, Lowline.

Their vision seeks to provide locals and tourists with a tranquil space to take a break from surrounding dense, urban areas. This underground park will come complete with real greenery, places to sit and relax, and artwork. The use of strategically placed light reflectors, solar collectors, and fiber optic cables will provide natural sunlight to this underground environment. When natural sunlight is unavailable, artificial light will come in as the park’s back up lighting plan.

Transforming the 21st Century work environment

Open work environments are increasingly becoming the way to go for creative, collaborative companies. More buildings will be designed specifically with this contemporary need in mind focusing more heavily on how the building will impact its inhabitants rather than the actual building.

Dock72, a winner of the 2016 NYC Award for Excellence in Design, is a 675,000 square foot office building that will bring 4,000 tech and creative start-up jobs to the Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. The building’s design focuses heavily on flexible work environments that will increase employee interaction and allow them to share ideas. Aside from an ideal work environment, Dock72 will be an energy efficient building that aims to be LEED certified.

A wooden alternative

Around the world, skyscrapers are making headlines due to their unique composition. White Arkitekter, a Swedish Architectural firm, won an international design competition challenging contestants to design a mixed-use cultural center and hotel for the Swedish city of Skelleftea. Their submission won due their ability to pay tribute to the area’s timber industry as well as for the design benefits associated with using wood as a building material. The building will be 19 stories and will be the tallest wooden building in Scandinavia. This architectural concept appears in other cities around the world including Melbourne, Australia, Bergen, Norway, and London, England.

While the United States has been slow to this architectural style trend, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Softwood Lumber Board created a competition to change that. Two winners will split the $3 million prize money: Portland, Oregon and Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. Manhattan’s 10-story, residential condominium building, comprised entirely of wood will bring this innovative approach to the heart of New York City.

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) has been the material of choice due to its lightweight and sustainable properties. Wood is significantly lighter than concrete, making transportation easier, while also using less energy. The construction process of timber buildings also saves time and money since pieces can be assembled in a factory ahead of time, then placed into position at the construction site. Rotting isn’t seen as a major issue with wooden skyscrapers since some of the world’s most beautiful, iconic buildings have been built with wood and have held up for 600-700 years.

New York City is often on the forefront of architectural design concepts, but many of these trends can be expected to pop up in other U.S. cities.