MVRDV today revealed the design for, and broke ground on, its first major building project in the United States. The 22-story building, which combines hotel, retail, and office functions in vibrantly stacked blocks, reflects the vivacious character of its Washington Heights neighborhood in Northern Manhattan, according to the Dutch firm.

Rendering courtesy MVRDV

Winy Maas, MVRDV principal and co-founder, and a presenter at Record’s Innovation Conference earlier this month, refers to the building as a vertical village. “Fracturing the program into smaller elements gives it a more human scale,” he says. The distinctive massing also resolves the project’s main challenge: accommodating a large volume of program while remaining contextual by taking the typical composition of a small block in Washington Heights, pulling it apart, and then reassembling it into an asymmetrical stack of boxes with openings and roof terraces. “The building has a certain level of porosity that way,” adds Maas. The boxes also take inspiration from the vibrant colors of the nearby storefronts, with each part of the building being finished in a different color of glazed bricks.

Called Radio Tower & Hotel, the building, for developer Youngwoo & Associates, is located at the thinnest part of Manhattan Island between the Hudson and the Harlem River. Washington Heights is the 5th largest neighborhood in New York with over 150,000 people, but it is currently served by just two 50-room hotels.

MVRDV is collaborating with executive architect Stonehill Taylor. The building is expected to complete in 2021.