Page D3.3. 06 June 2007                     
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    Hearst Tower

    continued

    He is applying a similar canopy to the courtyard of the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery/ Museum of American Art. In describing the Smithsonian canopy, now under construction, Foster says: "structurally, the roof is composed of three interconnected vaults that flow into one another through softly curved valleys. The double-glazed panels are set within a diagrid of fins, which together form a rigid shell that needs to be supported by only eight columns."

    As in these other projects, the greatest drama of Foster's design for the Hearst Tower is inside. Here, he had the luxury of using the historic base not for offices but as a processional. It leads from a four-story entrance lobby to an upper cafe level where light floods the space from the 30-foot- (9-meter-) high clerestory above and the numerous windows of the base.

    The processional starts with angled escalators carrying passengers past the multistory cascading glass waterfall designed by Jamie Carpenter and Jim Garland of Fluidity. The recycling rainwater, which alternately cools or humidifies the atrium, depending on the season, saves Hearst 1.7 million gallons (6,400 cubic meters) of water annually.

    The top of the escalator landing is celebrated by a monumental fresco made of earth and water by acclaimed British artist Richard Long, an environmental statement consistent with Foster's 40-year commitment to conservation.

    The top level of the base, with the cafe, seating area, and two elevated galleries on the north and south sides, is easily one of the most pleasant, uplifting interiors in Manhattan. The quality of this space echoes Foster and Hearst's statements about creating "an improved workplace," a concern that Foster first addressed in his projects in the early 1970s with the Reliance Controls and Willis Faber & Dumas buildings.

    In writing a few years ago, Foster described his design approach for Willis Faber & Dumas in terms that apply equally well to Hearst Tower: "above all, we were concerned with the quality of life and light, with introducing a little joy into the workplace."

    Another part of the joy of the Hearst Tower is how the building, like other iconic New York landmarks such as the Chrysler Building and Citicorp Center, appears as a sliver of light when glimpsed from almost any direction in the city.

    Rather than designing the tower to be compatible with its historic base, Foster designed a building that is compatible with and that replicates the way one experiences Manhattan's finest architectural heritage.

    William Lebovich is an architectural historian and photographer from Chevy Chase, Maryland who photographs new projects for architects and developers and documents properties of historical, architectural, engineering, or industrial significance throughout the continental United States. He is curator of the Shared Sacred Spaces exhibition.

     

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    ArchWeek Image

    Hearst Tower in Manhattan, by Norman Foster with architects Adamson Associates and Gensler.
    Photo: Nigel Young/ Foster + Partners

    ArchWeek Image

    Looking southwest from Columbus Circle.
    Photo: William Lebovich

    ArchWeek Image

    Oversized ornament of the original building.
    Photo: Nigel Young/ Foster + Partners

    ArchWeek Image

    Section through lobby and tower, looking west.
    Image: Foster + Partners

    ArchWeek Image

    Site plan.
    Image: Foster + Partners

    ArchWeek Image

    Lobby plan.
    Image: Foster + Partners

    ArchWeek Image

    Typical office floor plan.
    Image: Foster + Partners

    ArchWeek Image

    Good Housekeeping Research Institute.
    Photo: William Lebovich

    ArchWeek Image

    Hearst TV offices.
    Photo: William Lebovich

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    Operable sun screen.
    Photo: William Lebovich

     

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