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Studio VuralA rendering of Lilly

This conceptual skyscraper could bring live flowers to the Manhattan skyline

"The Lilly" is envisioned near Bryant Park

Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
Written by
Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner

Imagine looking up at the luxurious New York skyline and seeing... flowers?! And not in a pigeon's beak! Turns out—actual plants, growing vertically several stories up in the sky, rooted in a skyscraper, may very well be the future of Midtown.

Brooklyn-based architect Selim Vural of Studio Vural has debuted plans for what he calls a conceptual 21-story skyscraper named Lilly. 

Inspired by his own 1,000-square-foot rooftop, where he grows vegetables, fruits and flowers, Vural wants to build a large scale green building starring his favorite urban flower: Lilies. "It's a very resilient and hardy plant," he said, noting the flower has been an amazing addition to his own roofdeck. "They proliferate, give new bulbs and spread around in the garden." 

As an urban gardener, Vural was able to see how he became part of Brooklyn's natural ecosystem, feeding the birds and bugs and letting his plants absorb carbon from our very polluted city. 

And so, Lilly was born. The renderings of the mixed-used skyscraper shadowing Bryant Park aren't merely conceptual. 

A rendering of Lilly
Vural Studio

“It is possible to make this happen," Vural emphasized. New York City already has several buildings with geothermal energy, solar panels and green roofs, like The Barclays Center, which is covered in sedum, a low maintenance greenery that adds both beauty and eco-friendly benefit to the stadium.

If grass can grow on a massive structure in one of the busiest intersections in Brooklyn, why can't flowers bloom in the sky near Times Square? 

"One of the biggest reasons you don’t see more vertical walls like this is the difficulty of maintenance, watering and the cold weather," Vural noted. However, irrigation technology would help with the maintenance and watering, and Asian lilies are "resilient enough to survive the winter," he said. "As we provide the right conditions, the lilies will thrive." 

Not only do flowers offer a beautiful natural aesthetic, flower beds offer natural insulation and carbon absorption. The more plants, the cleaner the air at the source of the pollution. Imagine, Midtown Manhattan smelling like perfume! 

"When it's done, nature will reward us," Vural said. 

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