12 Apr 2002
By now most of you know that I have reveled in the construction that has gone on here in my home town of New York City since my arrival in 1961. In particular, I am most ecstatic about what is happening right now - the construction of THREE (count 'em!) seventy-story towers, all within two hundred yards of the fifty story high rise in which I live. The daily rat-a-tat of drills and hammers gives me a rush as I watch these skeletons rush skyward.
The piece de resistance is, of course, Columbus Circle's new twin towers (aka the AOL Time Warner Center), which the crew recently "topped-out" with the attachment of the appropriate small evergreen to the top riser as it was put in place. [This ceremony goes back a long way. My Dad, a general contractor in a small town not too far from the Jersey shore, always conducted same with every building he erected, usually costing him a small, but agreeable, sum in drinks for all hands at the local pub.] The addition of an American flag is a more recent addendum to the ceremony.
The topping-out was a bit odd, however, because the towers are less than half their ultimate height. What they topped-out was the steel superstructure for Time Warner's offices, CNN's studios, the THREE (count 'em!, again) Jazz at Lincoln Center performance spaces (billed as the jazz equivalent to Carnegie Hall), the multilevel restaurant and shopping arcade and an atrium. Atop the topped-out STEEL structure will be TWO CONCRETE towers containing a couple hundred condominia and a 250-room hotel rising to the seventy-story level. If any damned fool decides to joy ride his Boeing 757 into these towers, he will now have to melt concrete, instead of steel. Presumably, we will get a second topping-out ceremony next year.
One eye catcher will be a 149 feet high by 86 feet wide (that's 15 stories by 8+ stories!) "cable-net" glass wall forming a portal at the end of 59th Street, tall enough to accommodate TWO Washington Arches stacked one atop the other. It is billed as the largest such glass wall in the world. Stainless steel cables, spaced 7.5 feet vertically and 4.5 feet horizontally, will form the structural and protective "net" within which three-quarter inch thick laminated glass panels will be inserted. The designer says, "Its goal is to be as delicate, transparent and diaphanous as possible, both to afford views in and simultaneously views out.
This portal will bisect the Palladium, a two block long retail shopping arcade with sixty shops and six restaurants. Space is selling like proverbial hot cakes. As of the end of February, agents had already rented out 30% of this space - half of it post-September 11th. Included in the roster of tenants are the Equinox fitness Club (32,000 square feet!), a Thomas Kelly restaurant, a Cole Haan shoe store, a Georges Vongerichten steak house and apparel stores by Hugo Boss, J. Crew, Joseph Aboud, A/X Armani and Eileen Fisher. Projections are that they will have signed up 75% of the space by June.
Condominia are selling well, too. As of the end of February, 70% of the sales had occurred after September 11th. Ahhh, we sturdy New Yorkers....
The Allen Room, one of the new jazz performance spaces, will be eighty feet (eight stories) above street level. Its nonstructural glass wall will peer through the big structural cable-net portal. Overlooking Central Park, it will accommodate 300-600 people. When used as a dance floor, couples will be able to see the East Side's twinkling towers across the park. There will also be the Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame and a Jazz Cafe. The centerpiece will be the 1,200 seat Fred Rose Hall with a 60-foot fly loft (that's six stories!). [By the way, the late Fred Rose was my landlord.] "All this jazz" will be under the purview of Wynton Marsalis, current artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Attached are a few photos I took with a disposable camera a couple of weeks ago.