Hearst Tower revives a dream from the 1920s, when publishing magnate William
Randolph Hearst envisaged Columbus Circle as a new media quarter in Manhattan. Hearst
commissioned a six-storey Art Deco block on Eighth Avenue, anticipating that it would
form the base for a tower, though no scheme was ever advanced. Echoing an approach
developed in the Reichstag and the Great Court at the British Museum, the challenge in
designing such a tower at seventy years remove was to establish a creative dialogue
between old and new.
The forty-two-storey tower rises above the old building, linked on the outside by a skirt of
glazing that encourages an impression of the tower floating weightlessly above the base.
The main spatial event is a lobby that occupies the entire floor plate of the old building and
rises up through six floors. Like a bustling town square, this dramatic space provides
access to all parts of the building. It incorporates the main elevator lobby, the Hearst
cafeteria and auditorium and mezzanine levels for meetings and special functions.
Structurally, the tower has a triangulated form – a highly efficient solution that uses 20 per
cent less steel than a conventionally framed structure. With the corners cut back between
the diagonals, it creates a distinctive facetted silhouette.
The building is also significant in environmental terms. It was built using 80 per cent
recycled steel and is designed to consume 25 per cent less energy than its conventional
neighbours. As a result, it was the first office building in Manhattan to achieve a gold rating
under the US Green Buildings Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
(LEED) programme. As a company, Hearst places a high value on the quality of the
working environment – something it believes will become increasingly important to its staff
in the future – and it is hoped that Hearst’s experience may herald the construction of
more environmentally sensitive buildings in the city.
description by architects