New York City’s Evolving Skyline
NEW YORK — New York has long been a city in the clouds, but with 16 buildings around 500 feet or taller slated for completion this year, 2019 could be the city’s busiest year ever for new skyscrapers.
For many years the city’s skyline was primarily defined by the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings, both more than 1,000 feet tall and built in the early 1930s. But New York’s horizon has been in perpetual flux now for the better part of a decade.
这座城市的天际线被帝国大厦(Empire State Building)和克莱斯勒大厦(Chrysler Building)主宰了许多年，这两座建于1930年代初的建筑高度都超过了1000英尺。但是近十年的大部分时间里，纽约的地平线一直都在不断变化。
There are currently nine completed towers in New York that are more than 1,000 feet tall, and seven of them were built after 2007. Nearly twice that many — another 16 such towers — are being planned or are under construction, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a Chicago-based nonprofit that tracks high-rise construction.
纽约市内已经建成的高楼中，有九座超过1000英尺高，其中七座建于2007年以后。据总部位于芝加哥、追踪和评估高层建筑的非营利性机构世界高层建筑与都市人居学会(Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat)，还有16座这样的高楼——将近两倍于现在的数量——正在计划或建设中。
The scale of this new wave of construction is unprecedented.
New York’s skyline looks starkly different than it did a decade ago, redrawn by the massive Hudson Yards project on the West Side of Manhattan; a profusion of towers on and around Billionaires’ Row in Midtown; and the revitalization of Lower Manhattan, with One World Trade Center leading the way. The recent rezoning of Midtown East will cut even more of the skyline into unfamiliar silhouettes. And new heights will soon be reached in Brooklyn and Queens as well, thanks to luxury apartment high-rises.
纽约的天际线看起来与十年前相比已经大为不同。重绘它的是曼哈顿西区的哈德逊园区(Hudson Yards)大型项目、中城“亿万富豪街”(Billionaires’ Row)上和周围群簇的高楼以及由世界贸易中心一号大楼(One World Trade Center)引领的曼哈顿下城的复兴。最近中城东区在进行的重新规划将为城市天际线剪出更多陌生的剪影。豪华公寓高层建筑也将很快在布鲁克林和皇后区刷新出新的高度。
Why now? A confluence of factors, from advances in technology to a surge in luxury apartment speculation, has encouraged developers to build taller and leverage old zoning codes not designed for recent engineering breakthroughs. Some have called these zoning loopholes exploitive. New office towers like the ones that captured New York’s imagination a generation ago are also rising — although they now share the roost with multimillion-dollar condos.
Gaps in the Skyline
The new skyline is surprising, in part, because of the velocity of newcomers. The Empire State Building won a closely watched, three-horse race in 1931 when it raised its much-guarded spire to 1,250 feet, outdoing the recently finished Chrysler Building (1,047 feet) and the tower at 40 Wall St. now known as the Trump Building (927 feet).
That record remained unbroken, the skyline essentially unchanged, until 1972, when the World Trade Center topped out at 1,368 feet.
这个纪录一直无人打破，天际线几乎保持着原样，直到1972年世贸大厦(World Trade Center)落成，达到了1368英尺的新高度。
The city was devastated when the twin towers fell in 2001, and “people experienced the gap in the skyline viscerally,” said Judith Dupré, an architectural historian and author of books on skyscrapers. It was fitting, then, that the new One World Trade Center, completed in 2014, set a record height at a symbolic 1,776 feet. (Without the spire, the roof is 1,368 feet tall.)
One World Trade remains the tallest building in the city, but it has been joined recently by a spate of other megatowers, most of them residential. This marks a major shift from a skyline dominated by office space and executive suites to one increasingly focused on securing the best views for well-heeled residents.
In 1908, when the Singer Building in Lower Manhattan became the first in the city to rise above 500 feet, only 26% of buildings of that height were designed for residential use, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Since 2010, 64% (including projects under construction) have been residential, most of them luxury condos.
“The price trend definitely correlates with height,” said Jonathan J. Miller, the president of the real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel, who noted that unobstructed views became de rigueur for the most expensive apartment buildings of the last decade.
“房价趋势肯定与建筑高度息息相关，”房产评估公司Miller Samuel的总裁乔纳森·J·米勒(Jonathan J. Miller)说。他指出，在过去十年里，拥有一览无遗的景观已经成为那些最昂贵的公寓楼的必要条件。
A Shift at the Top
The phenomenon is recent. In 2003, the sale of a $43 million apartment at 25 Columbus Circle, a 750-foot tower overlooking Central Park, set a record and helped spur the luxury condo boom in Midtown. The unit sold for $2,630 a square foot, according to StreetEasy, when $1,000 a square foot was considered optimistic.
这是个最近才有的现象。2003年，在高达750英尺，可以俯视中央公园(Central Park)哥伦布圆环25号(25 Columbus Circle)，一套公寓卖出了创纪录的4300万美元。这笔交易对中城的豪华公寓热潮起到了推波助澜的作用。根据房地产信息网站StreetEasy，这套公寓的平均售价达到了每平方英尺2630美元，而在当时，每平方英尺1000美元的售价就已经被认为很乐观了。
By 2007, some developers were getting $3,000 a square foot, often on the strength of the views. In 2012, Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian billionaire, paid a record $13,049 a square foot for an $88 million penthouse at 15 Central Park West, a limestone high-rise with panoramic city views that pushed prices, and competing buildings, further skyward.
“You can’t even start residential occupancy below 20 floors in a lot of these buildings, because the view has already been blocked,” said Daniel Safarik, an editor with the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
Residential high-rise construction has taken off just as some commercial sites face headwinds. The renowned Chrysler Building sold in March for just $151 million, a fraction of the price paid in 2008, when a sovereign wealth fund from Abu Dhabi bought a 90% stake for $800 million. Part of the price cut was attributed to an expensive ground lease, but it also reflects investors’ changing priorities.
In 2012, Alchemy Properties bought the top 30 floors of the 792-foot Woolworth Building, once the world’s tallest building and referred to as the cathedral of commerce, for $68 million — to convert the office space into 33 luxury condos, starting at about $3.6 million for a one-bedroom. The 9,710-square-foot “pinnacle” penthouse, inside the copper-clad peak, was last listed for $110 million.
炼金地产公司(Alchemy Properties)在2012年斥资6800万美元买下了高792英尺的伍尔沃斯大厦(Woolworth Building)顶部的30层，这座大楼一度是世界第一高楼，被称作“商业大教堂”。这家公司将办公空间改造成了30套奢华公寓，最便宜的一居室3600万美元起售。位于铜制屋顶内部、面积9710平方英尺的“塔尖阁楼”最终标价1.1亿美元。
“There is a lot of ego involved in being a developer,” said Kenneth S. Horn, the president of Alchemy Properties, referring to some of his peers’ preoccupation with height. Despite no longer being the tallest in the city, let alone the neighborhood, the Woolworth still has panoramic views of the city, he said, which was a key factor in the residential conversion.
“开发商总是会掺杂许多自我意识，”炼金术地产公司(Alchemy Properties)的总裁肯尼斯·S·霍恩(Kenneth S. Horn)说，他指的是一些同行对高度的关注。尽管已经不是这个城市的第一高楼，甚至都不是这附近最高的建筑了，伍尔沃斯大厦仍然可以一览城市全景，霍恩说这正是相关住宅改造计划的一个关键要素。
Motivation aside, it is technology that has enabled the height of the latest towers.
“It’s because we can,” said Stephen V. DeSimone, the chief executive of DeSimone Consulting Engineers, who has worked on a number of new supertall buildings.
“因为我们能做得到，”德西蒙咨询工程公司(DeSimone Consulting Engineers)首席执行官斯蒂芬·V·德西蒙(Stephen V. DeSimone)说。他已经参与建设了好几座新的超高层建筑。
Stronger concrete, faster, more efficient elevators and sophisticated computer modeling have allowed developers to build taller and skinnier on sites that used to require much wider bases, he said. A better understanding of aerodynamics has produced skinny towers that can sway from 4 to 6 feet in any direction at the top.
A mechanical device called a damper — a kind of shock absorber typically installed on the roof of towers to reduce the queasy feeling of building sway — was rarely used before 2005, he said. Now he estimates that about a dozen are in use in New York buildings.
Engineering solutions have also meant zoning loopholes. Developers are generally constrained in New York by a land-use calculation that determines the allowable height and bulk of a building. The ability to build thinner, and therefore cover less of the lot, has allowed developers to create very tall projects in some neighborhoods “as of right,” without petitioning the city and going through a lengthy review process, said Frank E. Chaney, a lawyer with Rosenberg & Estis, a real estate law firm.
工程解决方案也意味着能够更有效地利用规划漏洞。在纽约，开发商通常受限于一种土地使用算法，后者决定了建筑物被允许建造的高度和体量。罗森博格-艾斯蒂斯(Rosenberg & Estis)房地产法律事务所的律师弗兰克·E·钱尼(Frank E. Chaney)说，有能力建造更“苗条”的建筑意味着会占据更小面积的土地，这在一些街区就意味着开发商能够“依据合法权利”，不必向城市提交请愿书，绕开那些繁琐冗长的审核流程，直接建设非常高的项目。
One popular way to achieve greater height is to buy the unused development potential, or air rights, of adjacent properties, to amass a larger building.
“If you go back 10, 15 years, it was not nearly as common as it is now,” Chaney said of these mergers. “Now everybody and their brother is doing this.”
Critics argue that some new towers have also exploited the zoning code by creating excessively tall mechanical rooms that do not count toward a developer’s allotted square footage, but nonetheless effectively push apartments skyward for higher premiums.
On the Horizon
Even amid the flurry of new construction, which includes a number of innovative designs, some complain that there isn’t the same sense of wonder there once was for skyscrapers.
“The awe that accompanies a new supertall is now tempered by the economic reality for many city residents that they simply can no longer afford to live in their beloved city,” Dupré said.
Others fault the glassy sameness of many new towers.
“If you ask somebody, ‘How many residential buildings are over 800 feet?’ they’ll say one, or two, or too many,” said Anthony E. Malkin, the chief executive of the Empire State Realty Trust, which owns the Empire State Building. (The answer is 10 — six of which may be completed this year.)
“如果你问某人，‘有多少幢超过800英尺的住宅楼？’他们会说一幢，两幢，或是太多了。“帝国大厦所有者帝国房地产信托(Empire State Realty Trust)的首席执行官安瑟尼·E·马尔金(Anthony E. Malkin)说。（答案是10幢——其中六幢将在今年内建造完毕。）
But there are signs that the supertall boom may be slowing, at least in the short term, Miller said. Much of the recent development was driven by the luxury condo market, which peaked around 2016, and there is a glut of new unsold apartments.
At the current pace of sales, Miller said, it would take nine years to sell those 9,000 unsold units.
Enough time, perhaps, for developers to plan the next wave of megatowers.