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Amsterdam Plans a Distinctly American High-Rise Island

A new tower development in the city’s harbor has a clear inspiration from U.S. and Canadian cities. But is it right for low-rise Amsterdam?
A model showing the possible look of Amsterdam's new high-rise neighborhood on Zeeburgereiland.
A model showing the possible look of Amsterdam's new high-rise neighborhood on Zeeburgereiland.Roos Aldershot Photography/City of Amsterdam

We hear a lot about how Europe’s more progressive cities might act as models for development in North America, but not so much about influence passing in the other direction. A major upcoming project in Amsterdam is a rare example of this—one that will see the city break from its previous architectural traditions to create something new and of North American inspiration.

This month an exhibition opened at Amsterdam’s Architecture Center that shows a possible new look for a largely undeveloped artificial island in the city’s harbor. The final look of the island’s buildings are not yet fixed (hence the speculative exhibition), but the city has already agreed on the urban plan dictating what will be built there: a cluster of 25 residential towers up to 125 meters (410 feet) high, which might well look like the visualization below, created in 2016.