Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Hearst Tower, New York City
Featured November 2017
Hearst Tower was recognized as the winner of "10 Year Award"  in the 2016 Best Tall Building Awards.
Other Featured Tall Buildings

“Built directly on top of a 1920s office relic, Hearst Tower made the world re-examine what’s possible in terms of preserving historic low-rise buildings in a dense downtown core.”
Timothy Johnson, CTBUH Vice-Chairman, NBBJ

Completion Date:
Building Height:
182 m (597 ft)
79,524 sq m (855,989 sq ft)

Primary Function:
Hearst Corporation; Tishman Speyer Properties
Foster + Partners (design); Adamson Associates (architect of record)
Structural Engineer:
WSP Cantor Seinuk
MEP Engineers:
WSP Flack + Kurtz
Main Contractor:
Turner Construction Company

Other Consultant:
AECOM (cost); Gensler (interiors); Langan Engineering (civil, environmental, geotechnical); Permasteelisa Group (façade); Turner Construction Company (quantity surveyor); Vidaris, Inc. (energy concept)

Sophisticated, distinctive, and transformative, Hearst Tower has profoundly impacted the skyscraper typology through its first decade of existence.  Rarely has a tower so successfully integrated heritage and tradition with contemporary, forward-thinking architecture. Its bold design and unmistakable appearance enhance the original landmark structure by all measures and proudly challenges the constraints of heritage preservation, all while respecting the original, nearly 80-year-old vision for a tower to occupy the site. The distinctive diagrid system not only produces an arresting appearance, but also facilitates a wide variety of programming in a thoughtful interplay of style and practicality.

Its influence touches on all elements of the skyscraper world, from sustainable innovations to structural expressivity to landmark preservation. In this respect, it is the combination of achievements that separates Hearst Tower from its contemporaries. Taken as a whole, the innumerable triumphs of Hearst Tower forge a truly one-of-a-kind building that – while certainly influential – can never be copied or matched.
Hearst Tower, completed in 2006, is an iconic structure notable not just for its forward-thinking sustainable innovations, but also for the bold decision to construct a highly contemporary, visually distinctive tower on top of a landmarked 1928 structure. Ten years after its completion, the tower remains an influential structure that has inspired a decade’s worth of structurally expressive, environmentally responsive towers.

In a sense, the tower’s completion marked the culmination of a nearly 80-year project to construct a high-rise above the six-story International Magazine Building. Designated as a Landmark Site in 1988, the dreams of a tower on the site seemed lost until the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission approved designs to construct a contemporary tower that would be fully integrated into the structure while respecting its historical character. The result is a remarkable and seamless combination of old and new that proves that the whole may indeed be greater than the sum of its parts.
Looking up at the tower from within the podium
No space in the tower expresses this duality more so than the central atrium, which is placed at the transition between the historic podium and the tower. The roughly triple-height atrium encompasses the entire floor plate of both structural components, showcasing the distinctive combination of forms while creating a vast centralizing space. As the historic structure gives way to the tower, a decrease in floor plate size accommodates a ring of skylights that flood the space with sunlight in conjunction with the punched-out windows of the podium and the glass curtain wall above.

Perhaps most notably, the 46-story tower features a glass and steel diagrid structural system that is expressed on the building exterior. This structural system solves a number of planning and design obstacles. Namely, the exterior four-story triangular frames free interior space from pillars and walls, enabling the high variety of flexible programming needed by the Hearst Corporation.

The diagrid structure is also visually expressive along the exterior, establishing a recognizable form that makes the tower stand out among its taller neighbors in Midtown Manhattan. It also allows light to reflect off the polished stainless-steel components, mimicking a twinkling, faceted jewel. Furthermore, the diagrid system offers a number of cost-saving efficiencies: the design eliminated the need for 2,000 additional tons of steel, accounting for a 20 percent reduction in steel compared to similar buildings. Additionally, 90 percent of the structural steel used contains recycled materials.

At the time of its completion, Hearst Tower was New York’s fist commercial high-rise to achieve a LEED Gold rating for core, shell, and interiors, while in 2012 it achieved a LEED Platinum rating for existing buildings, a testament to its forward-thinking commitment to improving its performance.
Typical section
Many of the commonplace sustainable features found in buildings around the world today were pioneered at Hearst Tower. The tower utilizes a rooftop rainwater collection system to prevent waste runoff; the collected water is recycled through Icefall, a three-story water feature in the atrium that cools and humidifies the space while providing ambient noise to enhance the lobby’s acoustics. Other features such as a destination dispatch elevator system and 100 percent food composting on-site demonstrate the building’s innovative and sustainable bona fides.
Building lobby

Related Links
CTBUH Skyscraper Center Profile:
Hears Tower

Hears Tower was the winner of 10 Year Award in the 2016 Best Tall Building Awards.

The CTBUH would like to thank Hearst Corporation for their assistance with this article.