ThirdWayOctober 21, 2015

New York – Concrete Jungles… With One Exception


My recent trip to New York City, has definitely opened my eyes to Architecture and Design.

Like all tourists who visit the Big Apple, one of the most fascinating design and architectural adventures for me was experiencing the top of The Empire State Building. Located in the heart of the city, the 102nd floor observatories provide unforgettable 360° views of New York and beyond. This phenomenal sky scraper was built in a record breaking time of 3 months. One floor was built a day, for only 2.6 million dollars! That’s got to be a record.


The building has 85 stories of commercial and office space, representing a total 2,158,000 sq ft (200,500 m2) of rentable space. I actually visited this outstanding landmark twice, once in the day and once in the evening – Just so I could indulge in both of these breath taking views.

Fun Facts about The Empire State Building….

1)  It only took two weeks to complete the architectural drawings – so, be careful up there!

2)  The building was finished only 410 days after construction began – so, really be careful up there!

3)  The building has its own zip code (10118) – I wonder if they have their own stamps?

4)  More than 21,000 people work in the Empire State Building – that was before the recession!

5)  73 elevators service the building – this statistic goes up and down!

6)  Record time in the annual run up is 9 minutes 33 seconds – I wasn’t going to try and beat that.

Its interior is a beautifully preserved art deco concept, with marble floors and walls . Mirroring the Chrysler building’s exterior and interior which were built only 1 year apart.

I was so amazed by the modern and forward thinking design it brought New York all those years ago. It’s a true symbol of the city’s architecture and really set the standards for the concrete jungle it is today.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is the brand new One World Trade Center, also known as the freedom tower. It is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the 5th tallest building in the world. With 104 floors, and 240,00sq/m of office space, it’s any designers dream! I practically ran up to the glass windows to feast my eyes on the spectacular views. I was amazed at how its construction differed completely to the Empire state building – It took time, precision and money.

New York's One World Observatory

The tower contains more than 40,000 metric tons of structural steel, with extra precautions taken into account after the attacks of 9/11. Green initiatives in the new building include rainwater reclamation and distributed power generation with on-site fuel cells. The authority says the skyscraper will exceed code requirements for efficient energy consumption by 20 percent. Its 7 sides (or fins as they’ve been nicknamed) represent the original 7 World Trade Centre buildings, keeping all the memories alive on this historical tower. The building over looks the whole of lower Manhattan, and when the light reflects from it, it shines like a beacon.

One of the most fascinating and outstanding concepts of The World Trade Center is how it breaks all the rules when compared to the rest of the concrete jungle. The city is primarily based on natural colours and block foundations, whereas this tower has a small twist aesthetic, and glass walls, which demonstrates a new era to New York’s building design.

Fun facts about One World Trade Center:

  1. This unique structure was designed to be the safest commercial structure in the world. Not only does One World Trade minimize waste and pollution, the building was developed in a way that it conserves water, improves air quality inside the building, and even exceeds energy performance code requirements by 20%.
  2. The height of the building is more symbolic than just a significant number. 1776 is the year that the United States Declaration of Independence was signed!
  3. The height of the observation desk is the same height as the North Tower, and the height of the second observation tower is the same as the South Tower.
  4. The windows are made out of an ultra-clear glass, which allows maximum natural light to fill the space. These offices even come equipped with automatic dimmers, that automatically sense when there is too much light – An effective way of reducing energy costs and waste.

Both buildings are a design sensation and should be experienced by every designer.

I think I have given myself enough holiday blues for one day, so until next time…

Danielle Rubie