New York's 15 Penn Plaza approved

By Richard High26 August 2010

Just two blocks from the Empire State Building, 15 Penn Plaza is just 18 m shorter. Image: Pelli Cla

Just two blocks from the Empire State Building, 15 Penn Plaza is just 18 m shorter. Image: Pelli Clarke Pelli/Vornado Realty Trust

New York City Council has approved a controversial 67-storey tower just two blocks from the city's iconic Empire State Building.

Despite objections the council approved plans by Vornado Realty Trust to construct the 363 m-high, Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed 15 Penn Plaza by 47 votes to 1.

Described by the developer as "an outstanding addition to New York's skyline", 15 Penn Plaza will be just 18 m shorter than the Empire State Building, which has stood in midtown Manhattan since 1931.

Although Malkin Holdings, co-owners of the Empire State Building, said they respected the decision of the council, company president, Anthony Malkin said, "As the current stewards of the Empire State Building, the most iconic image on the skyline of New York, we thought that 15 Penn Plaza was too close to the Empire State Building for its height and design."

However, New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, dismissed objections to the building telling a news conference, "Anybody that builds a building in New York City changes its skyline. We don't have to run around to every other owner and apologise.

"One guy owns a building and he'd like to have it be the only tall building. I'm sorry, that's not the real world."

David Greenbaum, the project developer for 15 Penn Plaza, told New York city council's zoning committee the tower's height was determined by the needs of potential tenants - such as financial services firms that need large, uninterrupted floors to accommodate trading activities - as well as the additional space needed for "green" office design.

Vornado Realty Trust said the project would bring transport improvements, including a concourse linking Penn station to subways and commuter trains, new subway entrances and an expanded subway platform.

Penn Plaza will be 363 m (1190ft) tall. The Empire State Building's main structure is 381 m but it has a 62 me antenna, putting its total height at 443 m.

The Empire State Building was the city's tallest building until the completion of the World Trade Centre in 1970. Following the September 11 attacks, when the WTC was destroyed, it held the title of New York's tallest building again.

However, it will lose it when One World Trade Centre is completed.

Project information

Developer: Vornado Realty Trust
Estimated completion: 2014
Use: Mixed
Height: 1198 ft/365 m.
Storeys: 67
Floor area: 1.3 million ft2/120770 m²
Architect: Pelli Clarke Pelli
Structural engineer: Severud/ Stantec Consulting

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