New York Daily Photo Analytics

Friday, December 14, 2007

Air Rights

I'm not a neo-Luddite - I do love much of what technology has brought us. Cell phones, the Internet, PCs, DVDs, VCRs and ATMs are all things which have made are lives easier. But I do love natural things. One of the things I hate is the inability to open windows in high-rises or hotel construction. On a beautiful spring day, I want to throw the windows open, hear the birds and smell the air, not watch it through a picture window like a television program. That said, today I bring you two glass towers (two-for-one to carry you through the weekend). The building in the foreground is the 52-story 100 United Nations Plaza, a luxury condominium tower on the northwest corner of 48th Street and First Avenue, completed in 1986 (click here for 2nd photo). You can't miss this one with its signature wedge shaped roof in eight steps, featuring penthouses with multiple balconies. The building is surrounded by a landscaped plaza with gardens and fountains. It was designed by Der Scutt, an architect with quite a pedigree who has done numerous NYC projects including Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, the Grand Hyatt Hotel and the Corinthian luxury condominium. This building was the tallest in the area until it was eclipsed by the 72-story Trump World Tower (seen to its right in the photo) across First Avenue between 47 and 48th Streets. Surprisingly, I have read a number of positive reviews from architecture critics such as Herbert Muschamp. Designed by Polish architect Marta Rudzka and completed in 2001, it was built amid some controversy (of course) concerning its height and impact on views and neighboring buildings, particularly the United Nations. It is the tallest residential tower in the US and was worldwide until the completion of the 21st Century Tower in Dubai (2003) and the Tower Palace Three in Seoul (2004). It's amazing what lawyers and money can do. If the law provides needed loopholes and maneuverable angles, lawyers will find them and unless laws are changed, projects go though which may puzzle many and not be to the liking of residents. One of the most fascinating concepts is the Transfer of Development Rights (or TDR), a scheme introduced to the city in the 1980s for transferring the unused "air rights" of one building (or more) to another proposed structure, thus allowing for a much taller structure to be erected than the building's plot alone would allow. It's intention was to save older historic buildings - rather than have to sell a property to capitalize on the value of its land, TDR allows the building to remain with the owner still profiting by selling air rights for the development of a taller structure on a neighboring plot. So Donald Trump gets to dot his i and cross his T again ...


marley said...

When I was in NYC I was struck by the monolithic apperance of the Trump building although it doesn't really do anything for me .I much prefer the other building even though its design seems dated. Great photo comparison.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I love looking at your daily pics of NY. I am from Sydney Australia, and have yet to visit the city. Outstanding effort you make to bring us these daily pics.
In relation to todays pic, none of the buildings you note are in fact the worlds tallest residential towers, as Queensland Australia is now home to the world's tallest residential tower, the Q1 tower.

Many thanks for a great view of NY


Pat said...

Lovely view of these massive buildings. Thanks so much!


Guelph Daily Photos
Pat's Pics
Photography Cafe

Anonymous said...

We got the smallest and shortest buildings in the world right here in downtown Brookville, Ohio and the oldest.

I like your pictures better.