I had the good fortune of attending last Thursday night’s ceremony at the Hearst Tower where Rick Fedrizzi, President of USGBC (who was in town for the Clinton Global Initiative meeting) presented the Hearst Corporation with a plaque honoring the Tower for achieving LEED Gold certification. Afterwards, members of the design team held a panel discussion about the project and went into detail about the building’s various green features. It was a terrific evening and I’m really glad I got the chance to attend.
The 597 foot Hearst Tower is the first building in New York whose columns stand entirely along diagonal lines. This design saved approximately 2,000 tons of structural steel as compared with a more traditional, vertical perimeter column configuration. Only ten percent of the building’s steel is new- ninety percent was recycled. The building will save 1.7 million gallons of water annually thanks to a rainwater collection system on its roof. This system helps feed the waterfall and radiant floor in the lobby atrium, both of which serve to cool the space in lieu of an air conditioning system. The building was also designed to use twenty-five percent less energy than the minimum NYC requirements.
Interestingly, the atrium occupies the entirety of the existing 1928 building, which was gutted (you can see that building in the picture above- the new Tower stands on top of it). The floor area (for zoning code purposes) that remodeled floors would have occupied in the 1928 building was transferred to the new Tower, and led to the creation of the cathedral-like six story atrium space.
The core of the building was shifted to the western end of the footprint because of an existing adjacent building which would have spoiled views to the west. Because of this, additional bracing for the eastern end of the building was necessary- you can see the huge columns arching across the atrium as you enter the building. The layout of the floors allows light to penetrate deep into the core of the building. Sensors in each office automatically dim lights when occupants leave and, depending on the time of day, adjust the amount of light that a particular fixture will emit. The corners of the building are cut out, not for any structural purpose, but to add a unique design element to the building, as well as provide dramatic views from the interior towards both Central Park and Midtown.
This link from the Hearst web site includes a video (which was shown at the presentation), images, and other information about the building. And here’s Hearst’s press release about Thursday night’s presentation.