Throwback: Starchitect power
Throughout 2013 – in celebration of Sustainable Industries' 10-year anniversary – we're re-publishing some of our favorite historical feature articles as part of a series called "Throwback." We welcome your comments and observations on how sustainable business has blossomed, stayed stagnant or reversed course over the past decade we've been chronicling it.
The media capital of the world has always loved a little one-upmanship amongst publishers.
In 1890, Joseph Pulitzer built the 26-story New York World Building — said to be the tallest office tower at the time — so he could really look down his nose at his publishing rivals. New York being New York, the building’s number of true floors was the subject of exaggeration, envy and editorials. Not too many years passed before rival William Randolph Hearst planned a taller Xanadu for his Journal newspaper, but the Great Depression hit before the building could soar beyond a very luxurious six stories.
More than a century later, Hearst Corp. and other publishing titans are again building Manhattan skyscrapers to flex their corporate muscle. The prize is no longer bragging rights about whose skyscraper is the tallest but rather whose building has the greenest features and the hottest architect.
In 1999 — before “green” was in vogue, it should be noted — Condé Nast Publications Inc. built on the edge of Times Square what many consider New York’s first green skyscraper. The publisher of The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and other glossies picked hometown heroes FXFOWLE Architects to design a glass, granite and steel curtain that looks different from every angle. The 48-story tower features efficient gas-fired absorption chillers and an air delivery system touted to provide 50 percent more fresh air than industry codes.
With the city’s greenest skyscraper looming over The New York Times Co. from across Times Square, the venerable newspaper publisher is building a 53-story building that features the world’s first and only dimmable lighting system and light-catching exterior ceramic tubes that help heat and cool the building throughout the day. The company commissioned Fox & Fowle in addition to Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Renzo Piano to design the project, set for completion in 2007.
Fifteen blocks north, past fellow media giants Reuters and Time Warner, construction crews in April finished Hearst Tower. The building, expected to be the city’s first office tower to earn a Gold rating under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Core and Shell system, features a rainwater-collecting roof that will reduce the amount of runoff dumped into the city’s sewer system by 25 percent.