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Top Projects Started 2003-2004

Hearst Tower

Rank #4 (Tied)
Cost: $500 million

The Hearst Corp. should know a good story. The company built from William Randolph Hearst's media empire today consists of 12 daily newspapers and the nation's largest stable of monthly magazines with titles such as Cosmopolitan and O.

Now the entire company, along with other units like comic strip distributor King Feature Syndicates and its cable television networks such as A&E, plans to bring 1,800 employees spread across nine buildings to the 42-story steel and glass tower rising at 959 Eighth Ave. near 57th Street in Manhattan.

It's not only a corporate consolidation. It's also a homecoming, since the 856,000 sq.-ft. tower, upon its completion in 2006, will preserve the six-story façade of the landmark Hearst-built headquarters designed in 1927.

The tower's story also entails a complex design with a geodesic-like shape sporting triangular steel bracing from the 10th floor up, as well as unique structural challenges, regulatory hurdles and a bid for "green" status. The cast includes the Hearst Corp. as developer, design architect Foster and Partners, Turner Construction as construction manager, Tishman Speyer as development manager, Cantor Seinuk Group as structural engineer and Flack + Kurtz as mechanical engineer.

Building the new tower atop the old structure is no small feat. The building is a historic site, which meant landmarks commission approval for the work as well as the requirement to preserve the façade. The site's positioning above the subway at Columbus Circle also spurred the development team to proffer improvements to the station area in exchange for adding six stories to the eventual final structure.

Among the most compelling aspects of the design are how its perimeter and corner views will be free of vertical columns. The steel framework forming a diagonal grid will be visible, showing the four-story-tall, grade-65 steel triangles prefabricated by the Cives Steel Co. of Roswell, Ga.

The complex exoskeleton required extensive coordination between design and structural teams to create panoramic views at the corners using the triangular bracing concept. The triangle braces are efficient for both gravity and lateral loads, requiring 21 percent less steel tonnage than a conventional building of its size.

The design also allows for 22,000-sq.-ft floor plates, further accenting the open space theme.

While the grid section begins at the 10th floor, much is going on below as well. The structure rests on megacolumns stretching to the foundation that allow for large open sections housing the lobby, a cafeteria, meeting rooms and other public spaces.

The makeover in the end will keep none of the structural elements of the old building, except for the framing at the perimeter to preserve the façade. But even that involves an upgrade for wind and seismic reinforcement and considerable steel work to link the megacolumns on lower floors to the grid system above.

The project team also aims to attain LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Among the "green" features are the steel frame's efficiency and energy-efficient systems throughout the building.

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