Anthony Malkin may have spent most of last week bitching about the City Council-approved 15 Penn Plaza project, but as he said in an ad taken out in the New York Times last week, "There will be taller buildings in New York City than the Empire State Building." And while 1 World Trade Center is the only planned building that will reach higher than the Empire State Building's 1,454 feet, a number of other projects are aiming to drastically change the city's skyline, for better or worse.
The Wall Street Journal (paywall) looks at the transformation taking place over the next 10 years, starting with the rise of Frank Gehry's Beekman Tower and 1 World Trade Center, which has reached its 36th floor. The residential tower at 34th Street and 11th Avenue could also be completed as early as 2016, and would be 1,060 feet tall. No word yet on whether or not Malkin considers that too close to the ESB for comfort. And the development is sending the message that New Yorkers are ready for change. Carol Willis, director of the Skyscraper Museum, said of the City Council's 15 Penn Plaza approval, "They were saying New York needs new buildings. Before that, I would've said that New Yorkers like their city just fine the way it looks right now."
Some argue with the idea that New Yorkers will accept the new developments. In a Malkin-commissioned poll, 71% of New Yorkers said 15 Penn Plaza would detract from the character of the skyline. And in our own poll, 55% of readers say the tower shouldn't be built so close to the iconic Empire State Building. But developers and city officials say the buildings aren't about the skyline, but about jobs. Mark Weprin, chairman of the City Council's subcommittee on zoning and franchises, said before the City Council vote, "We need new, modern buildings to accommodate the new business model that's out there today all over the world."
Thomas Hanrahan, dean of the School of Architecture at the Pratt Institute, also said that even if the ESB gets eclipsed, it wouldn't be any less grand a building. He said it would become "something like the Woolworth Building. It wouldn't diminish or make the Empire State Building any less extraordinary than it already is." But like it or not, New Yorkers can at least rest with the knowledge that the city's adaptability to change remains constant.