Tag Archives: 2004

Bloomberg Tower

Bloomberg Tower, aka 731 Lexington Avenue, aka One Beacon Court, is an imaginative 55-story* mixed-use building that occupies the site of the former Alexander’s department store** – the entire block bounded by Lexington and Third Avenues and E58th and E59th Streets. The bottom floors are retail stores and banks; the middle floors are offices – primarily Bloomberg LP; and the top floors are luxury condominium apartments.

The tower may be considered three buildings: A 55-story high-rise on Lexington Avenue, an 11-story building on Third Avenue, and a seven-story atrium – One Beacon Court – bridging the two, like a glass-and-steel semicolon. Vornado Realty Trust was the developer, César Pelli & Associates was the architect.

To accommodate the different needs of commercial and residential space, the lower 30 floors are built on a steel frame; the top 25 floors are concrete. The five-story crown – a bright white beacon at night – contains mechanical equipment, including a tuned mass damper to offset any wind-induced swaying.

While Bloomberg Tower is a child, age-wise (completed 2004), it’s a giant among New York’s residential buildings among the tallest in New York City.

* The building height ranges between 53 and 55 stories, depending on source. The owner’s website states 55 stories.

** I must confess, Alexander’s was demolished before I got re-interested in architecture. The only thing I remember about the store is that lingerie was on the first floor.

Bloomberg Tower Vital Statistics
  • Location: 731 Lexington Avenue between E 58th and E 59th Streets
  • Year completed: 2004
  • Architect: César Pelli & Associates
  • Floors: 55
  • Style: Postmodern
Bloomberg Tower Suggested Reading

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Time Warner Center

Time Warner Center was controversial from the moment it was conceived – years before that name was even attached. Now that Time Warner is moving downtown to the Hudson Yards, who knows what new controversies will arise.

The oddly shaped site on Columbus Circle was inherited from the Coliseum, the Robert Moses-sponsored exhibition hall that was partly financed by federal slum clearance funds. Critics contend that the Coliseum was too small when it went up in 1956. In 1985 New York City and the MTA started shopping for a new developer. After nearly 14 years of design, political, and legal battles, Related Companies and Time Warner came up with the winning bid and design.

The project came with challenges: it had to follow the curve of Columbus Circle while aligning with the street grid – including angled Broadway; it had to include a “view corridor” of at least 65 feet; it had to contain less than 2.1 million square feet of space. (Like Grimm’s “Peasant’s Wise Daughter,” commanded to go to the king “neither naked nor clothed, neither walking nor riding, neither on the road nor off it.”)

Time Warner Center is actually five buildings: Offices and television studios for Time Warner; the One Central Park residential condominium tower; the Mandarin Oriental hotel tower; the Jazz at Lincoln Center performance halls; and The Shops at Columbus Center (originally the Palladium). While David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was responsible for overall design, each block had its own architectural team. As reported by The New York Times, Rafael Viñoly Architects designed Jazz at Lincoln Center; Perkins & Will, the Time Warner headquarters; Elkus/Manfredi Architects, the Palladium; Brennan Beer Gorman Architects and Hirsch Bedner Associates, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel; and Ismael Leyva Architects and Thad Hayes, One Central Park.

The result, which The New York Times in 2001 termed “like a giant tuning fork vibrating to the zeitgeist,” had mixed reviews. On completion in 2004, The Times gushed, “the building has great glamour. It is far more romantic than the Jazz Age tributes conceived by Mr. Childs in his wanton postmodern youth. With 10 Columbus, the mood is modern noir. The two towers are worthy descendants of Radio City.”

New York Magazine credited Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) with conquering the complexities, but picked apart the details. “SOM got the big, difficult moves right, but for the success of any building to be complete, design decisions must reinforce each other consistently down the drafting chain. Unfortunately, sometime after the conceptual stages, SOM suffered a failure of attention span.”

Probably all will agree that Time Warner Center (whatever its future name) is a massive improvement over Robert Moses’ Coliseum.

Time Warner Center Vital Statistics
Time Warner Center Recommended Reading

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