Between the office tower near the Empire State Building, Frank Gehry’s Beekman Tower at City Hall, and 1 World Trade Center (already 36 stories high), Manhattan is poised for a skyscraper boom. Despite aesthetic concerns, the City Council voted unanimously to approve the Empire-adjacent office tower, backed by Vornado Realty Trust, which will transform the view from across the Hudson. “They were saying New York needs new buildings,” Carol Willis, director of the Skyscraper Museum, told the Journal. Vornado chairman Steve Roth takes the argument even further. Why just add new buildings when you can get rid of those stinkin’ old ones?
Backers of these new projects are pushing the notion that the city needs modern offices to compete with the likes of London and Hong Kong. Roth argues that with 40 million square feet of office space that’s 45 years old, denser construction is a good excuse for out with the old, in with the towering and new. With approvals in the bag, it looks like the only thing protecting postcard views of the city is the fact that office rents in Manhattan are 20 percent off their peak and office-space vacancies are hovering around 12.8 percent.