I N T E R N A T I O N A L   S T Y L E
P A R T   I I I


1 Penn Plaza
U.S. Steel Building
55 Water Street
1 & 2 World Trade Center
88 Pine Street
Seward Park Houses
Celanese Building
1166 Sixth Avenue
Annenberg Building
Solow Building
W. R. Grace Building
N.Y. Telephone Co. Building
New York Merchandise Mart
AT&T; Long Lines Building
100 William Street
1 Bankers Trust Plaza
Jacob Ruppert Brewery Project
Arthur A. Schomburg Plaza
U.N. Plaza - Park Hyatt
Olympic Tower
3 Park Avenue
Confucius Plaza
N.Y. Telephone Co.
  Switching Station (Downtown)
Piaget Building
Sheffield Apartments
Taino Towers
New York Palace Hotel

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THE 1 PENN PLAZA (1 Pennsylvania Plaza)
[Kahn & Jacobs]
was built in 1972 as an office tower next to Madison Square Garden and Penn Station in Garment District.

The 57-storey black glass tower slab rises to 229 m, dominating the immediate neighbourhood; it's also the fourth-largest office building in the city.

There are entry plazas on the 33th and 34th Street sides, as well as one facing Eighth Avenue, complete with trees and planters and flanked by restaurants and cafés. Due to the windiness of an open plaza, a conventional fountain was out of question, so a "fog fountain" was conceived instead: a high dark stone pyramid that emits water spray in summer and steam in winter.

Entering the building, in addition to the granite and marble main lobby (with a red granite One Penn Plaza logo on the floor), there are two escalator lobbies (with connection to the LIRR station concourse) and escalator corridors with photo murals and vaulted ceilings, as well as the verdant Seventh Avenue gallery and waiting areas for the building's 44 elevators, with ceilings in silver leaf finish.

In 1995 the Helmsley-Spear management (Empire State Building etc.) had a massive renovation and improvement scheme carried out to improve the image of the building. The improvement plans by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners were also a commitment to the general "cleaning" of the 34th Street area.

At the top of the building there are four similar red and white neon-light One Penn Plaza logos, each one eight meters high, as immediate identification beacons.

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THE U.S. STEEL BUILDING (1 Liberty Plaza)
[Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Roy Allen as chief designer]

was built in 1972 for the U.S. Steel Company.

The site was earlier occupied by the Singer Building as well as the City Investing Co. Building (Francis H. Kimball, 1908), being at their time the world's tallest and largest building, respectively.

A part of the development effort was the acquisition of the block south of the site for the headquarters. After tearing down the buildings on the block (one remained on the site for some time, though), the developers were able to transfer its unused air rights to the new building. The block itself was transformed into Liberty Plaza, a paved open-air park. As a result of the transfer, the skyscraper houses 167,290 m² within its monolithic bulk.

The massive 54-storey building of black steel and darkened glass rises to 226.5 m over Broadway. The main client, U.S. Steel, wanted to use steel-structures in a clearly visible way also on the facade, and thus there are 2-meter deep steel girders (covered in a fire-protection of another layer of steel) as heavy-weight spandrels, spanning the 15-meter bays. The structure results in large floorplates of 3,700 m².

The entrance to the building is from a narrow, below-grade sunken arcade, defined by the supporting massive steel columns and the glass walls of the lobbies.

The Liberty Plaza across the street slopes accordingly with the street's grade, with steps on each side. Along with the trees, the plaza has such items from the developer's arsenal as benches made of steel plates with bent edges and chains on bollards bordering the sidewalks.
(Damaged in the aftermath of 9/11 by heavy construction vehicles, the plaza will be completely rebuilt, starting with its foundations. The space will be replanted with 54 honey locust trees as well as granite paving and fixtures and 500 sunken lights. While the bronze scuplture Double Check by J. Seward Johnson will remain in the park, a 21-meter steel sculpture, Joie de Vivre by Mark DiSuvero, will be introduced as well.)

After U.S. Steel's relocation, the building was sold to Merrill Lynch, then to Olympia & York, the later-bankrupt developers of the World Financial Center. Today the building, called One Liberty Plaza, is owned by Brookfield Properties, which also has the ownership/controlling stake of the World Financial Center towers across the WTC site.

After the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, the building was feared to be under threat of collapsing, but was eventually returned to office use just 45 days after the attack.

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[Emery Roth & Sons]

was built in 1972 to the skyscraper concentration at the tip of Manhattan.

The 209.5 m tall building took the title of world's largest commercial office building from the Pan Am Building with its over 278,800 m² of rentable office space.

The development is built on a superblock created from four joint city blocks -- an arrangement made in co-operation with the Office of Lower Manhattan Development, which expected provision of public amenities in return.

The building is of basic International Style, contrasting with the neighbouring 2 N.Y. Plaza of the same era. The 56-storey facade of the tower slab uses variably vertical and horizontal striping for decoration, the grid pattern of the lower facade changing to vertical striping for the upper three-fourths.

To the north of the tower is a 14-storey wing with a sloping facade and terraces facing the river and, in front of it, a 4,000 m² elevated plaza on top of a 560-car parking garage, reachable through escalators and stairs. The 4,800 m ² plaza, by M. Paul Friedberg & Assocs. was originally clad in the same red brick tiles as his Jeannette Park to the south of the building. After an extensive renovation, the plaza reopened in October 2005, with the riverside-facing landscaped upper level replaced with an amphitheater and a promenade deck, ending on "Beacon of Progress", a 15-meter, rectangular led lantern with a grid surface. The surface of the lantern was to recall the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse atop the Seamen's Church Institute (and now relocated to South Street Seaport Museum), demolished to make way for the 55 Water Street.

The plaza was originally designed as a part of a series of high-level public spaces along East River, to be connected with walkways running above the street level. The elevated plaza and the sloping wing at 55 Water, however, were to remain the only examples of the futuristic urban plan. The plaza, nevertheless, provided 38,000 m² of extra floor space for the development as a plaza bonus.

The public amenities called for in the building site deal included re-working of the Jeannette Park, facing the Vietnam Veterans' Plaza next to the 2 N.Y. Plaza, the elevated plaza as well as provision for an entrance to the planned (and later discarded) subway line along East River.

The Whitney Museum of American Art established a branch museum in the building, space being rented for a token fee and operating costs paid by several Wall Street corporations.

The building, left as the second-largest privately-owned office building in the US after 9/11, has been the target of tenant interest, not least due to its 5,500 m² floors and its emergency powerplant of 31 megawatt output. In addition to a $156 million renovation, the owner, Retirement Systems of Alabama, remodelled the garage-top plaza.

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The truck's driver
shifted into low
gear to climb the
bumpy incline
leading onto the
Manhattan Bridge.
And then the last
piece of the World
Trade Center melted
away in the
urban haze.

  Dan Barry
  NY Times
  31 May 2002


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THE 1 & 2 WORLD TRADE CENTER (Between Vesey St. and Liberty St., demolished)
[Minoru Yamasaki & Assoc. and Emery Roth and Sons]
were the two towers soaring up from the midst of the World Trade Center complex (seven buildings in all, one of which was a hotel and one was across Vesey street) (map) in Downtown Manhattan.

In 2001, an unprecedented terrorist attack with two hijacked airliners that were crashed into both towers' upper portions led to the collapse of both and loss of life of 3,000 to 4,000 people, including hundreds from the emergency forces who rushed into the buildings to put out the fire and escort workers out. Not only was this the most destructive terrorist act ever, but the 1 and 2 WTC also got the questionable honour of being the tallest buildings that have ever been demolished (structures and the attack).

Owned by the New York and New Jersey Port Authorities, the WTC was planned to house Port Authority offices as well as attract international firms to Downtown Manhattan as a large-scale office complex.

Originally planned on the Downtown East River waterfront, this trading and business center was to also incorporate the New York Stock Exchange, but when the project was relocated, under the auspices of the Port Authority, to the Hudson River shore in 1962, also the NYSE connection was dropped.

The site chosen was originally owned by the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad and occupied, along with other low-rises, the huge Hudson Terminal Buildings (James Hollis Wells of Clinton and Russell, 1908)(image) at 30 and 50 Church Street and the H&M; New Jersey rail connection terminal, the precursor of the PATH. At the time of their completion, these two were the largest office buildings in the world. The Terminal Buildings had, in fact, undergone a major, multi-million renovation just before they were bought and demolished.

During the pre-planning stage, over 100 schemes were studied, including a plan for a single 150-storey tower which was discarded due to an excessive scale and replaced by a design with twin towers. The completed WTC plan was introduced in January 1964 and after slight alterations, like the abandonment of a plan enclosing the plaza with a low-height building "wall" or change of cladding material from stainless steel to an aluminium-alloy, the construction was started with groundbreaking on August 5, 1966.

The towers required 23 m deep foundations, and the dug-out earth was used as a land-fill for the nearby Battery Park City. The perimeter of the waterfront portion of the center was protected by a concrete wall that was poured-in prior to starting of the earth removal. The wall contained the site and its numerous basement floors within as well as prevented water from seeping into the site that was below Hudson River waterline.

The prefabricated steel elements made in the mid-west and on the west coast were shipped to New York and eight cranes built in Australia were used to hoist the elements into place. In all, 181,400 metric tons of structural steel was used in the towers.

The towers started to rise off the ground in March 1969 and the still-incomplete northern 1 WTC received its first tenants in December 1970, the same month that it was topped-out and took the title of world's tallest from the Empire State Building, keeper of the title for 40 years. The towers were finally dedicated on April 4th 1973. They remained at 415.5 m (WTC 2) and 417 m (WTC 1: 521 m with the TV mast) the tallest buildings in the world until the completion of the Sears Tower in Chicago in 1974.

As part of its modern office building status, the center was to have a complete, integrated telecommunications network system, much like those built into the modern office buildings. From the offered proposals, the ITT package was chosen, but years of mainly legislative delays led to stripping down of the delivered system as well as a change of the provider. The system nevertheless broke new ground with, for example, the first business-use data and video fiber optic and cable network in the USA, electronic international mail and business directory services and the first commercial building electronic central telephone switch.

An underground cooling plant used up to 340 million liters of Hudson River water daily to provide 50,000 tons of cooling capacity to the center complex and the towers. The arrangement utilized the close proximity of the river to do away with roof-top cooling plants, allowing an unhindered installation of the rooftop observatory and antenna tower. The ecological impact of such a plant, however, has led to a much reduced intake capacity in the WTC rebuilding.

In the beginning, because of the difficulties in finding tenants, the State of New York had to rent out most of the buildings to avoid a total financial disaster. Moreover, the price had soared in the course of the construction from the originally estimated $350 million to the presented $800 million -- which was widely considered to be $300 million short of the true cost. Even it didn't include the annual payment of $25 million to the construction locals during the years of delayed construction -- years which were beset further by inflation and unstable interest rates.

Before their destruction in 2001 there were around 500 international companies in the Center, providing work for 50,000 people. The Center had subway stations of its own (both for six subway lines of the NYC subway service and for the cross-Hudson PATH line -- acting as a terminus for New Jersey commuters (construction)), as well as an underground shopping center of 60 shops, the largest in the city. In addition to retail levels, there were numerous subterranean floors for basement and parking use, with the PATH station at the bottom.

The towers housed 418,600 m² of office space, which at 75% of the total floor area was considerably more than was usual in high-rises. The upper floor office area was up to 3,700 m² due to the open area afforded by the structural system. The employment of a load-bearing outer wall was also a factor that saved one of the towers in the 1993 WTC parking garage bombing, although in 2001 the extensive heat from burning jet fuel as well as the impact of the aircraft inevitably weakened the steel frame in the towers and led to the disastrous collapse.

The entrance lobbies were all in all seven storeys high, the third floor being on the upper plaza level as a mezzanine floor (image) along the outer walls, leaving the central part open. From the all-glass walls (intermittently interrupted by supporting columns, though) of the mezzanine, a view opened to the 21,500 m² Austin J. Tobin Plaza (image), the largest public plaza in NYC, occupying the space between the buildings of the Center. A $12 million rework on the plaza in 1999 replaced the white Italian marble cladding with 40,000 blocks of brown and red granite. Also spiralling benches for the "radial" plaza were installed and the mid-plaza sculpture Globe by Fritz Koenig restored to rotate again. There was also the sculpture Ideogram by Rosati on the plaza (image).

The elevator complement consisted of 23 express elevators and 72 local elevators in each zone. There were 43,600 windows in the towers; glass, however, comprised only 30% of the towers' facade area, the rest being taken up by the aluminium-clad columns that leave between only narrow, slot-like windows. In order to allow the top floor observation facilities better views, the top floor windows had to be widened by one-third. In each tower, a specially-designed window washing machine travelled up and down the facades and took half an hour to wash one vertical stripe of windows.

Despite the strict security checks, the observation decks (opened in December 1975) of 2 WTC at 107th and 110th floors were visited daily by 80,000 people (unfortunately, no-one had expected an attack from the outside and with apparently peaceful "tools" of airliners). The millionth visitor to the observation deck on November 1976 received a free lifetime pass.

The 1 WTC had a group of restaurants and bars on the 107th floor, crowned by the Windows on the World restaurant (1976) with appropriately sky-high prices and reservation requirements. When the weather permitted, both towers offered breathtaking views, though.

The other, low-rise office buildings were completed between 1972 and 1977. In 1981 the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill-designed Vista International Hotel (the 3 WTC, 820 rooms, since 1998 a Marriott hotel) was completed as the last addition to the main compound (image). The buildings in the World Trade Center (excluding the 7 World Trade Center) housed a total of 930,000 m² of office space, seven times that of the Empire State Building. All these buildings were destroyed during the terrorist attack or immediately after.

On August 7, 1974 the French tightrope performer Philippe Petit performed 45 minutes of walks between the towers' tops, a distance of 40 meters. The building also gained fame in May 1977 when George Willig scaled the outside wall on one of the towers (he was "fined" $1.10 for his 4-hour act, historic also in VCR marketing (link)) and a year later the Twin Towers starred in the remake of the film King Kong. In February 1981, an Argentinian passenger jet narrowly missed hitting the 1 WTC TV tower before being rerouted by the ATC.

NYT Articles: Biggest Buildings in World to Rise at Trade Center
Blast Hits Trade Center | A Vertical World of Its Own | Interactive: Targets of Terror
New York Metro - World Trade Center 1973-2001
Great Buildings Collection entry
a pictoral tour in World Trade Center | images

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[I.M. Pei & Partners, James Ingo Freed as chief designer]

was built in 1973 corner-to-corner with the 120 Wall Street in the East River waterfront in Downtown Manhattan. (Before the plot to the east was built over again, the building actually faced the waterfront.)

The 32-storey office slab has a visually similar facade treatment to SOM's W.R. Grace Building, with a black and white grid pattern, although here the result is more three-dimensional and "structural" and marble is replaced by white-painted aluminium.

The building shares a common plaza on its southern side with the neighbouring 100 Wall Street. The stainless steel monument "Disk and Slab" (Yu Yu Yang, 1973) on the plaza commemorates the burning and sinking of the SS Queen Elisabeth in Hong Kong in 1972. The owner of the building, Morley Cho, was also the last owner of the ship.

The building, now known as the Wall Street Plaza, has been awarded twice for its design and once for the fountain.

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THE SEWARD PARK HOUSES EXTENSION (64-66 Essex St. and 154-156 Broome St.)
[William F. Pedersen]
was built in 1973 as a northern extension to the Seward Park Houses (Herman Jessor, 1960) in Lower East Side.

First proposed in 1962 as a superblock project, the extension, as carried out, was eventually reduced to two apartment slabs two blocks apart.

The 22-storey towers were clad in the already typical red brick and on three sides followed the customary project style, but the facade facing the block interior was notably different. In addition to a series of vertical protrusions with corner windows, the irregular placement of balconies and terraces made the whole very peculiar.

The mid-block is occupied by a large park-like courtyard and on the other end a single-storey building houses residents' common facilities.

While the western tower is surrounded by relatively quiet streets, the eastern one is located just where Delancey Street changes to the elevated approach to Williamsburg bridge, bordering the tower to the north. Moreover, its courtyard has no communal building to close the block.

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[Harrison, Abramovitz & Harris]

was built in 1973 next to the McGraw-Hill Building as the southernmost of the Rockefeller Center Extension skyscrapers, with the Celanese corporation as the main tenant.

The 45-storey exterior of the 180.5 m tall building follows the extension's uniform vertical striping, with the limestone piers here nearly flush with the glass surface.

The elevated plaza facing Sixth Avenue is flanked on the south side by a lower wing protruding from the main building mass, closing the plaza row of the Extension.

Nowadays the 148,700 m² building is the New York headquarters of the media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

Rockefeller Center map | image | image
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[Skidmore, Owings & Merrill]

was built in 1973 as one of the modernist office towers on Sixth Avenue.

The 164.5 m tall building represents minimalist design with a plan of an equilateral square and 148,600 m² of office space. The frame is of concrete and steel and the uniform, 44-storey facade of black glass and aluminium is broken only by rows of openings for HVAC systems.

With the building itself undergone extensive facade sealing, security and other engineering upgradings from 1999 on, the midblock open-air plaza next to the building was redesigned by Hoffmann Architects with perimeter seating, redwood trees and a sculpture fountain.

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THE WATERSIDE (East River, 25th to 28th Sts.)
[Davis, Brody & Assocs.]

was built in 1963-1974 on a platform on East River off the Bellevue Hospital complex.

Based on developer Ravitch's initial proposal in 1961, the painful conception was begun with greenlighting and starting of design work in 1963.

The parallelogram-shaped platform was to stand on water, replacing the abandoned piers on East River between 25th and 28th Streets, in effect filling the area occupied by piers. (The U.S. Corps of Engineers, ie. armed forces, would have denied any farther-extending construction to the river anyway.) Four towers and a number of smaller entities were to occupy the platform around a central plaza.

The proposition was announced in 1966, but the platform idea was in jeopardy due to the law allowing the federal government to take over an area occupied by a river platform without compensation (should the need arise), that would have made financing a difficult task. After the Congress declared the area non-navigable, the work could go ahead, with the $72 million loan largely "secured" by Mayor Lindsay's personal involvement in the project.

Construction began in 1971 and the complex was finally dedicated in September 1973, and completed the next year, 11 years after the design work had started.

The four apartment towers include 1,470 housing units, some completed as subsidised for medium- and lower income residents (although one whole tower was originally conceived as subsidised). The towers are clad in large red brickwork with streaks of black in spandrels, with the chamfered and nichéd corners changing to bold cantilevered protrusions in upper floors to house the larger apartments. The complex also houses 25 duplex townhouses.

The central plaza with the lower-level river promenades (around the edges of the 2-level garage for 700 cars) is paved in large concrete slabs and has sparse landscaping. On the shoreside of the plaza, in a building facing Manhattan, are the numerous grocery stores, barbershops etc. of the community. As with the towers, also in other buildings, as well as stairs and walkways, red brick is the predominant material.

As an independent entity on the complex, the U.N. International School (Harrison, Abramovitz & Harris, 1973) occupies the south-eastern tip of the platform. The school was built here by the city as an isolated unit (undoubtedly also due to security reasons) after disputes about its inclusion to the emerging First Avenue United Nations "neighbourhood".

The only direct connection to Manhattan (if one doesn't count the connection to the motorway from the garage) is by a pedestrian bridge leading over the FDR motorway at 25th Street, effectively isolating the complex from the rest of the city.

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THE ANNENBERG BUILDING (Madison Avenue/E 100th St.)
[Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Roy O. Allen as chief designer]

was completed in 1974 for the Mount Sinai School of Medicine within the Mount Sinai Hospital complex.

The large, 31-storey building rises from its mid-block site -- the 99th and 100th streets were demapped from public use -- to the height of 133 meters. Supported by a series of protruding, faceted perimeter columns, steel girders span the facade and double as spandrels between the window stripes. The building is clad in self-weathering (read: rusting) Cor-ten steel, similarly to the Ford Foundation building in Midtown.

One of the largest medical school facilities in the US, the building incorporates various school and research facilities as well as a 600-seat auditorium.

The outside plaza has the sculpture Large Sphere (1967) by Arnoldo Pomodoro.

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[Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Gordon Bunshaft as chief designer]

was built in 198-1974 for Sheldon Solow as the second Bunschaft-designed building in NYC, along with the W.R. Grace Building, to have curving lower walls facing the streets to create a setback.

Drawing its influence from the 1963 Downtown Finance Place proposal, the curve theme was chosen to utilize the setback regulations to the fullest by removing the traditional right-angled setbacks and introducing a sweeping facade instead. Bunschaft's first plans for the building were rejected by Solow and subsequently used by the developers of the W.R. Grace Building in their own project further downtown.

The 50-storey black glass curtain walls are flanked by marble cladding on the building top and the ends -- where there are also sets of diagonal steel "braces" over the glass curtain end walls.

Although the juxtaposition of the old and the new (like with the Olympic Tower and St. Patrick's) is exciting, the building is inevitably blocking the sunlight from the old Plaza Hotel with its 221 m tall mass. Being faced by the General Motors Building to the east and the Solow to the south, the "dream castle"-like Plaza seems now rather out of place.

On the 57th Street side portion of the through-building entrance lobby stands a sculpture of a man figure by Giacometti. An underground shopping concourse was built in the basement, but, despite the favourable location, it has been a failure and remained empty.

The building is set back 12 m from 57th Street and 15 m from 58th. The street sidewalks next to the building (as well as the lobby floors) are paved in the same travertine as the non-glass facade portions. In front of the building, on the 57th Street side, is a steel sculpture by Ivan Chermayeff: a red number nine standing on the sidewalk.

On the 58th Street side is a public plaza facing Plaza Hotel and the outside entrance to the ill-fated shopping basement next to the building wall, now sealed off. A glossy-black Pablo Picasso sculpture adorns the plaza.

The Cityreview entry
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THE W.R. GRACE BUILDING (GRACE PLAZA) (41 W 42nd St. or 1114 Sixth Ave.)
[Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Gordon Bunshaft as chief designer]

was built in 1974 for the W.R. Grace chemical company.

The company relocated to 42nd Street from Downtown Manhattan, replacing the Stern Brothers department store with this 70,400 m² office tower.

The 192 m tall building resembles Bunschaft's Solow Building with its similar curved lower walls as a setback from the street. This is no coincidence, as Bunschaft used the first, rejected plans for that building in his design for the W.R. Grace.

The outcome of the 50-storey facade is here of more conventional nature, with a white grid-like pattern of white travertine filling the space between the darkened windows and defining the structural arrangement.

The plaza facing 43rd Street extends to the Sixth Avenue side, allowing entrance to the building from three directions. It, as well as the sidewalk on the 42nd Street side of the building, is clad in the same white travertine as used on the building's facades.

The building's underground parking garage has space for 185 cars.

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THE N.Y. TELEPHONE CO. BUILDING (Midtown) (1095 Sixth Ave.)
[Kahn & Jacobs]

was built in 1974 as a combined equipment and office tower for the New York Telephone Company, today's Bell Atlantic.

The building borders, along with the W. R. Grace Building, the north-western corner of Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan.

The 192 m tall building consists of a 40-storey white-facaded core which is joined from three sides by a slightly lower glass and marble-walled portion with varying black-and-white vertical striping. The building houses the normal complement of office spaces, but also with telecommunications equipment occupying the top floors.

The striping -- somewhat reminiscent of the facade of the 2 N.Y. Plaza in Downtown -- consists of differing bands of white marble, and the facade changes gradually from predominantly white at the bottom, to black with thin white striping in the top-half. The top of the core shaft sports the logo of Verizon (the former N.Y. Telephone Company and former Bell Telephone Co.) on the north and south facades.

In order to get a building permission for the large bulk of the slab, the building was set back 3 m from Sixth Avenue building line and a 25 m wide mid-block plaza was razed west of the tower. Also, half a million dollars were donated for the improvement of the nearby Sixth Avenue subway station.

Equity Office Properties obtained the building for $505 million in 2005. The new owners are planning to completely reclad the building in a $260 million renovation by Moed de Armas & Shannon and Gensler.

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[Emery Roth & Sons]

was completed in 1974 for the New York Merchandise Mart, a showcase and trade facility for tableware and decoration industries.

The 42-storey building uses 23 floors for the showcasing and selling activities of the arts and crafts tenants, in addition to more traditional office space floors.

The curtain wall of black glass is interrupted only by the technical floors below mid-height and at the top. Although narrow, the tall, glass-walled slab manages to interfere with the distinctly different, light-toned N.Y. Life Insurance Co. Building and the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.'s buildings.

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[John Carl Warnecke & Assocs]

was built in 1974 for the AT&T; telecommunications company as a telecom equipment tower.

The building is located in TriBeCa, near the 1930s telecommunication "brick mountains", the Western Union and AT&T;. It replaced a number of cast-iron buildings, the facades of which were removed for preservation before demolition.

As a vital communications link, the building was designed to resist nuclear blast and fallout and be self-sufficient for two weeks in wartime conditions. Due to the building's technical nature, the height of each floor is 6 m -- almost double that of the normal office building -- and there are thus only 29 storeys altogether.

The almost windowless 167.5 m tall concrete slab is clad in pink-coloured Swedish granite and has six large protrusions which rise to the top, giving the building a castle-like appearance. These shafts house elevators, stairs and ductwork. On the 10th and 29th floors there are series of large, protruding ventilation openings.

The entrance is from Thomas Street, on top of flights of stairs, and on the eastern side there is a mid-block elevated plaza.

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[Davis, Brody & Assocs. (Alexander Purves as the chief designer) with Emery Roth & Sons]

was built in 1974 to the Financial District.

The 21-storey building is notable for its monolithic facade cladding of black slate panels with highly uneven surface and joints, differing considerably from the customary polished stone claddings. The stripe windows change mid-facade to two rows of openings for the HVAC equipment. The floor area is 27,880 m².

Within the building there is a public arcade leading diagonally through on street level. The 24 m high space is flanked by chrome-clad structural columns that extend up through the three storeys of office floors opening to the atrium.

The atrium pioneered the 1974 zoning revision offering development bonuses for public amenities in an enclosed space -- as opposed to open-air plazas -- with its two levels of retail space and an entrance to a subway station. The bonuses resulted in addition of 5,140 m² of extra leasable floor space inside the building.

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[Shreve, Lamb & Harmon and Peterson & Brickbauer]

was built in 1973-1974 south of the World Trade Center for the Bankers Trust bank.

The 40-storey building has a facade of black anodized aluminium and darkened glass. The lower portion of the 172 m tall, yet squat building is characterized by wide supporting piers that taper upwards and inwards.

From a small street level plaza on the northern corner, tapering steps lead underneath a perimeter extension to an elevated plaza.

The 130,000 m² building, since 1999 owned by Deutsche Bank, which incorporated Bankers Trust, stood underneath the 2 WTC and was heavily damaged during the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, with a wide opening torn into the facade, from 24th floor to the ground and a basement fuel tank burning.

With the interior of the building extensively mold infested after being dampened by water from sprinklers, the building's future was long uncertain; conversion into apartments was one option after the removal of mold, but eventually the decision was taken to pull the building down, for an estimated cost of $100 million (of which the removal of asbestos and other hazardous materials taking $70 million), the site then forming a part of the WTC redevelopment.

After a lengthy court battle between the insurers Allianz and AXA and the owner Deutsche Bank, the latter has finally a go-ahead to demolish the building and sell the land to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. for $90 million. In addition, it got $140 million in insurance coverage from the two insurers, which will also have to pay 75 percent for any additional demolition costs over $50 million, estimated as of Aug. 2005 as $75 million plus $13 million for scaffolding. The demolition, or rather, piece-by-piece breaking down, is expected to finally begin in June 2006 after continuous delays caused by a higher level of contamination than first estimated, and last for 16 months. (During peparation work in April 2006, bone fragments from the terrorist attack were still found mixed within the rooftop gravel.)

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THE GALLERIA (115 E 57th St.)
[David Kenneth Specter and Philip Birnbaum]

was built in 1975 as a combined office and residential tower.

The unusual name (unusual especially as its name doesn't have the word "plaza" in it!) of the building derives from its arrangement: a below-grade skylighted indoor atrium going through the block underneath a balconied and terrace-topped tower.

Originally planned as an all-office building, the design had to be changed due to the worsening office space market of the early 1970s. A mix of apartment and office uses was chosen to comply with the area's zoning for commercial uses.

The 8-storey base housing the atrium is accessible from both 57th and 58th Streets, 12 steps down from the street and behind glass doors. This inevitably lessened its use as a public throughfare, as which it was conceived to gain extra space for the tower above. The diagonally arranged glass walls of the entrance and the sloping skylight on the 27 m high ceiling let natural light into the space. The floor has granite and quarry tile paving and the walls are of dark-toned granite.

The 47-storey apartment tower is located to the north side of the plot, retaining the east views from the older Ritz Tower immediately next door. The tower has a facing of glass walls and dark brown brick. The first nine floors for the office spaces are distinguishable by the larger amount of solid brick wall on the facade.

At the time of its completion, Galleria was the tallest concrete-framed building in New York.

The residential portion by Birnbaum (overall design and public spaces were by Specter -- together with Gerald Jonas on the penthouse design) has 253 condominium apartments on the top 38 floors. The south-side apartments have greenhouse-like, roofed balconies enclosed with glass walls and protruding from the facade.

As undoubtedly one of the zaniest ideas in the NYC real-estate history, millionaire Stewart Mott commissioned the 930 m², four-storey penthouse as a combined office, apartment and vegetable garden for himself (he was being ousted from his previous home at 800 Park Avenue after turning its roof into a countryside pasture...). As well as the vast indoor space, it also incorporates 700 m² of outdoor terraces for growing of food, as Mott wanted to do.

Mott, however, abandoned his "biosphere" project in 1975 and the building itself fared little better, going bankrupt the next year and becoming properly occupied only as the economy improved.

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[Davis, Brody & Assocs.]

was built in 1975 as a three-tower housing project in the Upper East Side.

The four-block site of the Jacob Ruppert Brewery (in operation in 1867-1965) stretched from 90th to 94th Street between Second and Third Avenues and was subsequently envisioned for residential urban renewal -- the original plan was the 1966 mixed-income master plan by Conklin & Rossant that called for two towers, 60 and 48 storeys tall, as well as four eight-storey buildings, a high school and community facilities. Later, a plan for a luxury 78-storey residential tower, the tallest in the world, was proposed. The resistance to their high-income units doomed these approaches.

As built, the project on the two southern blocks incorporates three elongated red brick towers with dark vertical striping of windows with metal spandrels along the general style of the architects' earlier Waterside towers. The main difference to the Waterside is the stepping of the towers: their portions vary in height and are diagonally stepped in their floorplans.

The towers, starting from Third Avenue, are:
- Yorkville Towers (Third Ave./92nd St.) - 32 to 42 storeys, 710 apartments (image)
- Ruppert Towers (Third Ave./90th St.) - 24 to 34 storeys, 549 apartments (image)
- Knickerbocker Plaza (Second Ave./92nd St.) - 40 storeys, 578 apartments (in the building, 70% of the apartments are reserved and subsidized for seniors, 20% for low-income residents) (image)

Both the Yorkville and Ruppert Towers also incorporate ground-floor commercial spaces and a post office that flank a large triangular plaza on the 91st Street that follows the stepping of the two diagonal towers.

91st Street between Second and Third Avenues is closed for traffic and paved in cobblestone as a plazalike thoroughfare that slopes toward Second Avenue. The south-eastern part of site is a public park and playground.

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THE ARTHUR A. SCHOMBURG PLAZA (1295 and 1309 Fifth Ave.)
[Gruzen & Partners with Castro-Blanco, Piscioneri & Feder]

was completed in 1975 as a residential project at Frawley Circle, the cross-park sister of Columbus Circle at Fifth Avenue and Central Park North.

The 35-storey, concrete-framed towers have a distinct octagonal plan, with plain sides alternating with recessed ones, where only the series of twin balconies define the octagonal outline. The tops have cubic water tower casings.

Along with the towers -- placed WTC-like diagonally on the plot, loosely defining the Frawley Circle -- the complex also includes an eleven-storey slab building on the Madison Avenue side of the plot along with a landscaped, multi-level plaza.

The building gained notoriety on March 22, 1987, when a fire started in a trash compactor chute above the 20th floor, leading to seven deaths.

After the loss of the 1 and 2 World Trade Center in Downtown Manhattan, these Harlem buildings remain the only such arrangement of symmetrical, free-standing twin towers in the city.


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THE U.N. PLAZA - PARK HYATT HOTEL (1 and 2 U.N. Plaza)
[Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Assoc.]

was built for the U.N. Development Corporation -- a 1968 joint agency by the city, state and the U.N. for developing U.N. office space and facilities in New York -- as a part of the planned large-scale extension for the United Nations across First Avenue.

After a discarded first plan made in 1968, the second proposal was ready for construction in 1969. It was a plan for a four-building complex of 40-storey towers, with an enormous glass-walled atrium that rose to the 40-storey height of the buildings it flanked. The FAR of the planned 280,000 m² complex was eventually 18, instead of the zoned 12, but as the federal funding was troubled, the NY state came to help -- in return of decreasing the FAR to 15. The deal also secured only funding for the first building in the reduced complex.

The Hotel and Office Building -- a combined office, apartment and hotel tower -- was not, however, completed until in 1976. The height of the tower was, moreover, curtailed to comply with the ruling that the new high-rises in the vicinity of the United Nations may not exceed its height. (The Trump World Tower a few blocks to the north was started in direct violation of the ruling, enabled by a variance, and finally approved in a courthouse.)

The 39-storey building has 33,450 m² of office space (to the 26th floor) and 247 hotel rooms (the next 13 floors), some of them duplexes with dual-height living rooms. On the 27th floor is the health club with its glass-walled swimming pool offering a view over the city, and on the 39th is the only hotel tennis court available in Manhattan.

In 1983, the U.N. Plaza apartments tower was built to the west of the hotel, sharing the same lobby and being of the same height and exterior appearance. The lobbies are decorated with chrome and glass along with centuries old tapestries from U.N. member nations.

The neighbouring towers are connected by two bridges at various heights. The exterior of the buildings is uncompromisingly homogenous, being made of rectangular green-tinted glass plates tied together with narrow aluminium bands. The facade grid consists of floor-high elements of mirror windows -- the first used in NYC -- with four windows, each measuring 1.4 m x 0.8 m, forming one element.

The form of the 154 m tall building complex is of two masses tied in a twisting and turning embrace, with constant oblique setbacks and cuts (like the 12 st. tall oblique cut on the south-east corner of the hotel tower) making the whole seem almost elastic, although the form also had more practical backgrounds: they were used to relate the building to the lower neighbouring buildings.

On the street level there is also a sloping glass "canopy" with a roof made of the facade glass windows and covering the sidewalk on the 44th street frontage as well as a driveway leading to the buildings' lobbies.

As a privatization move, the city and state sold the hotel for $85 million in 1997, thus also bringing in annually $6 million in taxes for the previously non-taxable property. Other U.N. Development Corporation properties were to follow. In 1999 Millennium Hotels bought the hotel and two years later renamed the renovated building the Millennium Hotel New York, U.N. Plaza. The office towers in the U.N. Plaza group were also going to be sold in 2001, but U.N. resistance has so far thwarted the move.

Great Buildings Collection entry
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THE OLYMPIC TOWER (645 Fifth Ave.)
[Skidmore, Owings & Merrill]

was built in 1976 for millionaire-shipowner Aristotle Onassis and was the first skyscraper to combine shops, offices and owner-occupied luxury apartments in the same building.

The building replaced the Best & Company Building (1947, Shreve, Lamb & Harmon), although the first, 1970 designs by the original architect Morris Lapidus had the neighbouring Olympic Airlines Building replaced instead. The 60-meter tower was to rise on a narrow base and expand to a glass-walled slab above the neighbouring rooftops.

The development utilized the air rights of all of the buildings on the blockfront facing Fifth Avenue, and allegedly also the use of air rights above St. Patrick's Cathedral was considered.

As the first to utilize the special zoning for Fifth Avenue, which encouraged the construction of such mixed-use high-rises to the area, the 51-storey building has 20 floors of office space (over 23,000 m²) in the lower part, and the top 29 floors are occupied by 225 apartments. There is, all in all, 92,900 m² of space within the building. The building was also the first tall skyscraper in NYC with the top floors reserved for residential use, the earlier tall skyscrapers having all been office towers.

The whole facade is clad in brown-tinted glass which gives the 189 m tall building a solid, almost black, and highly reflective surface. On the north side there is a protruding setback and a wing extending through the block to 52nd Street.

The framework of the building consists of the unusual arragement of a steel frame for the lower 21 floors and a concrete frame of in-situ cast walls and slabs for the top 30 floors of residential use.

The Olympic Place Gallery (Chermayeff, Geismar & Assocs., Zion and Breen, Levien, Deliiso & White, with landscape architects Abel & Bainnson, 1977) is a 10 m high through-block public arcade of gray granite, with potted trees and a waterfall. It also has a connection to a concourse level with retail spaces.

There is a separate entrance to the apartments from 51st Street. The apartments have 3-meter ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. In accordance with the targeting of apartment sales, the occupants have been to a notable degree from Europe and the Middle East.

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[Shreve, Lamb & Harmon]
was built in 1976 by the city's Educational Construction Fund as a mixed-use office and school building in Midtown Manhattan.

The fund operates by financing developments that mix schools with revenue-creating uses in the same building, in this case the 11-storey Norman Thomas High School functioning as the base for a 34-storey office tower.

The building replaced the notable, medieval-style 71st Regiment Armoury (Clinton & Russell, 1905), with a bronze plaque on the new building's wall reminding of the plot's former occupant.

The 169 m tall, flat-topped building faces the street grid of Manhattan at a 45-degree angle. The building's facades are of red/orange brick, with spandrels of metal on the main facade glass walls and brick on the multi-faceted corners.

Piers of brick run the whole height of facades to the top, where they taper inwards to form a series of "buttresses" somewhat akin to the Chanin Building. At night the "buttressed", set-back wall at the top is illuminated.

The base below the glass-walls is of austere brick cladding, indicating the floors of the high school.

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THE CONFUCIUS PLAZA (The Bowery & Division St.)
[Horowitz & Chun]

rose in 1976 as a multi-use apartment tower at the end of the Manhattan Bridge, where the constantly expanding Chinatown and the Lower East Side meet.

In addition to the 762 apartments, the development also includes a school (the Public School 124), shops and community space as well as a day-care center. There is also an underground parking facility.

The tower complex forms a large arc facing south-east, with the 44-storey eastern portion of the entity -- on the Manhattan Bridge side -- towering over the lower, 19-storey mass facing the Bowery and Chatham Square (near which the previously tallest apartment development in Chinatown, the Chatham Towers, is located). Facing Manhattan Bridge is a three-storey wing that partly extends to the 2,200 m² plaza on the Division Street side.

The facade is of uniform brown brick cladding, and the massing is enhanced by protruding portions and set-backs.

On the plaza in front of the building is a statue of the Chinese philosopher Confucius by Liu Shih.

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[Rose, Beaton, & Rose]

was completed in 1976 as a switching tower for the New York Telephone Company.

The building houses telecom equipment inside its 32-storey mass. The form of the white marble-clad slab is broken by twin protrusions on the sides, rising above the roof level, to the height of 164.5 m.

Located next to the Brooklyn Bridge in Downtown Manhattan, the building owes its great height to deal made with the builders of the adjacent Murray Bergtraum High School (image). As this triangular, low castle-like structure used only a portion of the building rights for the plot, they agreed to transfer the rest for the NY Telephone Co. to use on the switching station tower. As a payback, NY Tele paid the bonds that were used to finance the school building.

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THE PIAGET BUILDING (650 Fifth Avenue)
[John Carl Warnecke & Assocs]

was built in 1978 for the Pahlavi Foundation (of the late Shah of Persia) next to the Tishman Building in Midtown.

The building replaced DePinna's department store on the northern portion of the blockside facing Fifth Avenue, next to the intensely set-back Cromwell Collier Building -- whereas the new neighbour had only the single setback required by the Special District zoning.

The 35-storey facade is of light brown granite facing, with horizontal stripes of windows on the Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street side, extending also a bit over the corner to the 51st Street side and western facade.

Along with the different bases, the window rows and twin openings at the top are the only "diversions" from the asceticism of the building, somewhat resembling in form and style the mid-part of the contemporary, aluminium-clad Citicorp Tower.

On the 52nd Street side is a large colonnaded opening acting as an entrance to the building and its second floor retail spaces. There is 31,200 m² of space within the building.

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was built in 1978 as an apartment building to the Columbus Circle area in Midtown.

The building rises for 50 storeys, over the neighbouring Hearst Magazine Building, with its urn-topped columns, on the Eighth Avenue side (image).

The building has a plan of a Greek cross, with the bases of the wings slightly recessed, with alternating glazed facades and solid stone-clad walls at the ends of the wings.

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THE TAINO TOWERS (Second Ave./E 122nd St.)
[Silverman & Cika]

was built in 1972-1979 into Harlem as a high-standard low-income housing project (you read correctly).

Originating from the architects in 1965, the development was taken by the East Harlem Tenants' Committee and it secured wide economic support from federal and city sources. After long delays in battling bureaucracy and the mid-1970s recession, the $48.5 million project was finally completed 14 years later.

The complex of four 35-storey towers on six-storey bases surrounded landscaped plazas and incorporated in their bases community facilities that the Tenant Committee had originally called for.

The very un-project-like facades consist of pre- and in-situ cast white concrete and floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The rounded corners with balconies add to the luxurious impression. Some of the towers also have such distinctly high-income features as especially large apartments and interlocking duplexes with over 3 m high living rooms.

The common spaces continue the impressive record: the lobbies have Italian tile floors, the laundry facilities are located on the roof, there is central air-conditioning and a vacuum garbage disposal system (the first in NYC).

The 22,000 m² of common spaces included social facilities, gathering and exhibition spaces, a health care center, a theater and a swimming pool, among others. Along with the 2,700 m² of incorporated commercial space (originally planned to help subsidizing the rents), the development was criticized for such a wealth of amenities and non-residential spaces.

A peculiar experiment, the project was meant to counter the "slummification" of Harlem by providing the people with proper-quality subsidized apartments as well as extensive communal facilities. In the end, despite its qualities, much of the complex remained empty until the mid-1980s, perhaps as a step too far in bridging the gap between the local residents' living conditions and those of the affluent in the Midtown and the Upper East Side.


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[Emery Roth & Sons and Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer]

consists of two distinct groups of buildings, spanning almost a full century and incorporating 963 guest rooms.

The target of commercial interest and a landmark since 1968, the Villard Houses (451-457 Madison Avenue, 1883-1886), a group of six brownstone private mansions by McKim, Mead & White, were sold by the archdiocese of New York to the Helmsley Corporation in 1974.

The developers used the air rights of the old mansions to build the staggeringly contrasting 55-storey Helmsley Palace Hotel (later New York Palace) in 1980. Originally designed with a travertine facing and vertical strip-windows with arches on top, the facades were actually changed to a curtain wall of bronze-anodized aluminium and darkened glass. Also the planned office space was discarded, due to funding shortage. At the time of its completion, the 171.5 m tall hotel was the tallest in New York.

The tower rises on its own foundations, but has been partly cantilevered over the east wing of the Villard Houses, rising over the courtyard of the hotel complex.

As preservation landmarks, the Villard Houses' courtyard and the interior of the north and south wings have been restored. The south wing, known also as the Villard House, is in the hotel's use, whereas the north wing houses organizations like the Municipal Art Society and the Architectural League of New York and the preservational Urban Center.

The Villard House had been the only one spared of the use as office space over the years, and thus could be renovated in 1981 by arch. James Rhodes to the original luxurious decor, the beige marble lobby and the music room with a barrel-vaulted ceiling.

The hotel itself has an entrance from the east end of the courtyard, as well as from the 50th and 51st Streets. The three-level lobby has also sumptuous decor and is dominated by the grand staircase.

In 1998 the whole hotel underwent extensive refurbishing and redecorating.

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lo-go © e t dankwa 27 June 2014