Since its inception, New York City’s buildings have been reaching for the blue sky above. The tallest structures of its early history were church steeples and City Hall, but all that changed in 1883, when the Brooklyn Bridge was finished and opened. By the turn of the 20th-century the Flatiron Building and the Woolworth Building achieved new records for building height. Next to go higher were the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building, which both set the gold standard moving forward for skyscrapers. The defining feature of the New York skyline has always been “building tall”, and while construction itself has had its ups and downs along with the economy, buildings have continued to grow higher. In the past several years, the tendency has accelerated almost beyond imagination, with plans to build super-tall towers. Many now slated for construction will be super-luxury NYC apartments for the mega-rich, and will drastically alter the skyline by 2021.
Among at least ten buildings now underway or in planning, one of the most impressive is The Spiral, open for business 2022. The Spiral’s unique design features classic Manhattan step-backs that twist and taper towards the sky, allowing light and air to reach the streets below, and provides lush outdoor terrace space to tenants on every tower floor. The Spiral will stand 1,031 feet tall and represents the future of “connected workspace” for industry leaders. Located on Hudson Blvd. at the northern tip of the High Line, The Spiral project occupies an entire city block between 34th and 35th streets at the heart of Manhattan’s newest commercial and cultural center. It is convenient to a variety of the most important transportation options including Penn Station, Port Authority, the Lincoln Tunnel and much more.
All this exciting “construction competition” brings to mind the question “Is there a limit to how tall buildings can be built?” Of course this phenomenon is happening the world over, but New York City is at the forefront of it all. Will this race to the sky ever stop? Is there a highest possible height that a building can reach? We would think there will eventually be a world’s tallest building that is unbeatably the tallest, because there has to be an upper limit, right? Could the astronomical amounts of money needed for projects such as these finally put the brakes on? Will it be materials, physical human comfort and how about elevator technology that will determine how tall a building can or can’t go? Could we build a mile high building?
“The predominant problem is in the elevator and transportation system,” says Adrian Smith, the architect behind the current tallest building in the world and the one that will soon outrank it, the kilometer-tall Kingdom Tower in Jeddah. There is another expert by the name of William Baker, the top structural engineer at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. He has come up with a concept called the buttressed core…a kind of three-winged spear that allows more stability than ever before. “You could conceivably go higher than the highest mountain, as long as you kept spreading a wider and wider base,” Baker says.
Obviously we will continue to push the limits as far as how high we can build. Some things will remain constant on the ground below however, including the need for a NYC Shanty on every job site! Construction crew safety always comes first, and NYC Shanty will certainly grow with the construction industries needs and will be there when the tallest building is built in New York City!