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Old December 16th, 2007, 06:24 AM   #1
hkskyline
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Should the United Nations be Dwarfed by New Skyscraper Developments

Proposed high rises could dwarf UN building
9 December 2007



NEW YORK (AP) - The United Nations is one of New York's most recognizable landmarks, a sleek modern slab that has soared above its more modest-sized East River neighbors for more than half a century.

But a proposal for seven slender glass towers just south of the U.N. complex could dwarf the 39-story Secretariat -- and, residents say, strain the largely residential Manhattan neighborhood known for its quaint Tudor-style apartment buildings.

City officials will decide in the coming months whether to approve the zoning changes that would be needed for developer Sheldon Solow to realize his dream of a 5 million-square-foot project on the 8.7-acre site of a decommissioned Con Edison power plant.

The developer has recently bowed to neighborhood pressure by agreeing to provide space for a public school, to set aside some apartments for moderate-income residents and to lower the height of the tallest building from 864 feet to 721 feet, or 69 stories. The steel-and-glass Secretariat is 505 feet.

It may not be enough.

"We would like to see significant changes to the plan," said City Councilman Daniel Garodnick, who represents the area.

State Sen. Thomas Duane said the buildings "are still too high and inappropriate for the neighborhood, where most buildings reach only as high as 40 residential stories."

The lawmakers were among a half dozen elected officials who testified against the proposal at a city Planning Commission meeting Wednesday.

The developer said in a statement: "We look forward to working with the New York City Planning Commission and to continuing discussions with community residents and elected officials in our effort to be responsive to community and citywide needs."

The property along First Avenue between East 35th Street and East 41st Street is Manhattan's largest privately owned undeveloped piece of real estate.

The project would contribute to a New York building boom that is projected to include five huge skyscrapers at ground zero and up to 24 million square feet of office space on Manhattan's far West Side -- plus luxury condos seemingly in every neighborhood.

The proposal for the Con Ed site would remake the East River skyline with 4,172 new apartments, a 1.38-million-square-foot office building and a public pavilion designed by Richard Meier.

Solow, 79, has touted his plan as a worthy successor to 9 W. 57th St., the swooping black skyscraper he built 34 years ago, which remains a sought-after midtown address.

Solow did not address the Planning Commission, but his architects said the towers would enhance the skyline.

"The buildings will be transparent, and at night they'll glow on the outside, allowing a person at the ground level to experience different things depending on the angle at which they experience the buildings," said Meier, who is known for Los Angeles' Getty Center and for his striking condo towers on the other side of Manhattan in the West Village.

Marilyn Jordan Taylor, a partner with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill -- the firm that designed 9 W. 57th St. -- asserted, "This plan is fundamentally about claiming a former industrial site and turning it to the use of people, activities, open space and mixed-use development."

Neighborhood residents were not swayed.

"This proposal is too big, too tall, too dense and will exacerbate traffic," said Seena Parker, the first of 50 East Side residents who spoke out against the plan.

East Siders and their elected officials want apartments at the site but no office buildings, and they want the structures to rise no higher than 400 feet -- well below the Secretariat's height.

"We want deference to the United Nations Secretariat building, which is an iconic building and one which is important to the city and the world community," Garodnick said.

Besides the Secretariat, which was based on plans by Le Corbusier and completed in 1952, the neighborhood includes Tudor City, a historic district comprised of 12 brick-and-stone apartment buildings built in the 1920s.

The 72-story Trump World Tower is several blocks north of the United Nations on First Avenue. City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, whose district borders the Con Ed site, told the planning board that the Trump tower should never have been built and should not be considered a precedent.

The Planning Commission has until the end of January to approve Solow's proposal, modify it or turn it down. If approved, it would go to the 51-member City Council. Given the opposition of the local member and those from adjacent districts, its prospects there would seem dubious without big changes.

Having knocked down the height of his building designs by several stories -- while adding a seventh tower to maintain the square footage -- how much further will the developer compromise?

A spokesman for Solow referred to his prepared statement: "Our common goal is to create an open and inviting development that will be a valuable addition to the neighborhood and significantly enhance the city's waterfront."
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Old December 16th, 2007, 06:45 AM   #2
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It's a shame that NIMBYs complained about height for this project. The previous designs were so much more unique. Now they've got a much of short boxes instead.
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Old December 16th, 2007, 08:19 AM   #3
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Aren't there supposed to be 7 towers in this redevelopment? I wish they could revise the colour of the buildings to match the colour of the neighbouring residential buildings. And I think they should throw in a 35-story office tower next to the small orange building.
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Old December 16th, 2007, 08:22 AM   #4
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There should be a neutral disclaimer on the poll. Seriously. This worries me about as much as going downstairs just to see that my parents had the last bowl of ice cream.
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Old December 16th, 2007, 12:52 PM   #5
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Big deal if a skyscraper is built next door or on the next block. The UN controls it's block of land and that's it. If a shadow happens to fall on it or views are blocked so be it.
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Old December 16th, 2007, 03:45 PM   #6
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I wonder if the UN will actually raze its buildings and rebuild something bigger rather than spend more money on renovation.
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Old December 17th, 2007, 03:34 AM   #7
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they are cheap o's and will most likely not even do the reno's. i think the new towers will do lots for the area.
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Old December 17th, 2007, 08:12 AM   #8
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the UN building has always been dwarfed by taller buildings so its no big deal
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Old December 17th, 2007, 10:55 PM   #9
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agree totally with you charmedone.
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Old December 18th, 2007, 05:08 PM   #10
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I don't really see what the matter is. It's a very local issue. To me the UN building has always been seen on a backdrop of bigger buildings.

Awful render BTW,
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Old December 18th, 2007, 05:28 PM   #11
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I hope that developement continues, New York has gotta keep up with Asian cities which are booming, New York was the first skyscraper city and personifies the term, so to speak! I hope it continues going up!!!
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Old December 18th, 2007, 11:12 PM   #12
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maby they sould make a second un building thats like 1000 feet or more then it will really stand out
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Old December 20th, 2007, 10:21 AM   #13
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Screw the NIMBYs. I say put the 2 or 3 supertalls by David Childs right next to it because they were amazing. They should be taller than that POS.
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Old December 26th, 2007, 07:23 AM   #14
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The UN building would be just an average height building for nearly any city in the world so you couldn't expect a place like New York to hold back height of surrounding buildings.....!
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Old December 28th, 2007, 08:02 PM   #15
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The UN has always been dwarfed by other buildings in NYC.
even though other buildings will go around it, everyone will know which one is the UN.

The US pays for a good chunk of the UN bill, all for world peace....so if the UN wants to modernise there tower, every country needs to donate a little more, IMO.
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Old January 1st, 2008, 11:37 PM   #16
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In TV the UN building is shown always as something big and imposing, but when I saw it it was really tiny and insignificant.
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Old January 3rd, 2008, 03:56 PM   #17
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Old January 5th, 2008, 03:24 PM   #18
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Damn. that building is in desperate need of renovation.
the archiotecture and design isnt unique at all either.
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Old January 6th, 2008, 10:39 AM   #19
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Although the UN is fairly small compared to ESB, Chrysler, etc. There aren't actually too many big buildings in the area, and especially as wide as UN. Chrysler and the other Midtown giants are still a distance away, so the UN does stand out in its neighborhood, and from the other side of the East River.



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