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Old March 21st, 2006, 12:27 AM   #201
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Because Niagara Wouldn't Fit Inside a Lobby

Published: March 20, 2006

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

Water should be running by May down the glass cascade that is to be the signature of the new Hearst Tower.

It is as yet unfinished, and still bone-dry. But already, New York's shimmering new three-story, $6.9-million glass waterfall is tantalizingly visible above the plywood construction barriers shielding the lobby of the $500 million Hearst Tower.

The indoor waterfall, in the lobby on Eighth Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets, will be the signature of Midtown's most buzzed-about new skyscraper, the first in Manhattan to be designed by the architect Norman Foster. The 46-story tower of gleaming diagonal glass-and-steel grids soars atop the reconstructed base of the fanciful, palatial 1928 Hearst headquarters building, and has the new address of 300 West 57th Street.

Hearst executives say the primary lesson of the waterfall is not its complex sculptural design, but rather the fact that all of its water will come from rain captured on the building's rooftop, piped to a 14,000-gallon tank in the basement and recycled.

"We wanted to create something that would not look like anything else," said Brian G. Schwagerl, the Hearst project manager for the building. And certainly the 27-foot-tall, 75-foot-wide glass wall — designed to enhance the lobby even when dry — is an alien visitor among Manhattan's modest clutch of public indoor waterfalls.

They include the three-tiered vertical channel of water in the Olympic Tower atrium at 645 Fifth Avenue, between 51st and 52nd Streets, the granite-backed cascade in the Aon Center at 55 East 52nd Street, and the underwater-ish lobby in the W Times Square Hotel at 1567 Broadway, at 47th Street. There, visitors wait for elevators under the glass bottom of a pool that diverts water down transparent walls.

During much of the four years that the Hearst waterfall was being designed, it had an unglamorous working title: "the water feature." But last April, upon seeing a mock-up of the icy-looking glass blocks, Lord Foster named it Ice Falls.

Workers will finish sealing the waterfall's joints by late April, and water will be running in May as the tower's first tenants arrive. The official opening will be in September.

A half-inch surface of water — some 15,000 gallons per hour — will flow down the cascade, built of 50 tons of art glass cast into 580 planks, each four feet long. These planks of clear-white glass were made by an artist in Oakland, Calif., using Tasmanian sand because it has a low iron content, "and it is so water-white it looks like ice," said James Garland of Fluidity Design Consultants Inc., the water expert on the project.

The slope is 38 degrees, "an unusually steep angle that conveys lots of energy," Mr. Garland said, adding, "The task is to remove energy from the cascade at every terrace, yet not starve the life out of it."

Therefore, the glass has been scored with grooves that hold back water flow at each of 52 terraces down the slope. Without such grooves, "the water would be all over the lobby," Mr. Garland said.

Even greater constraints were imposed on the designers. The water source had to be adjustable to prevent "rivering," excess water on the slope. Acoustically it had to be musical, but not too loud. And there could be no splash, spray or flying droplets, since people would be entering and leaving on three escalators traversing the waterfall.

People will flow up and down the waterfall "like the water," said James F. Carpenter, the project consultant on the effects of light, who conceptualized the glass design. Thanks to the wall's varying diurnal reflections of both daylight and artificial illumination, "people will move up into the building through a field of light that is ever changing."

The intelligent, computer-controlled system is divided into six zones, and its 22 control valves, which direct water strength and flow rate, can be adjusted to prevent dry spots. "For us, this construction has the intricacy of a Swiss watch," said Michael Wurzel, a partner at Foster & Partners.

Despite its sophistication, the waterfall "is designed for ease of maintenance," Mr. Garland said. "But I can tell you it will take more work than a swimming pool."
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Old March 21st, 2006, 01:06 AM   #202
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Old March 21st, 2006, 10:32 PM   #203
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Does the lobby really need a waterfall in it?
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 10:28 AM   #204
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I think that's very classy!
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 03:40 PM   #205
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I agree, The escalators will be flush with the waterfall for an amazing effect of being surrounded by water.
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Old April 5th, 2006, 11:15 PM   #206
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NEW LOOK: Hearst's spacious new tower will have an upper-floor site for Oprah to produce her best-selling magazine.
Photo: AP

April 5, 2006 -- OPRAH is moving into the new Hearst Tower.

Yes, Oprah Winfrey, whose magazine O is published by Hearst, will have a "high-floor" aerie in the opulent new Lord Norman Foster-designed skyscraper.

Her upcoming move, the fabulous atrium with company cafeteria, hidden theater and soon-to-be-flowing water feature, were the talk of the broker launch party yesterday morning.

The asking rent for the two bright and large retail spaces is $300 a foot, and Hearst could have any deal or bank it wants, but sources said its head of real estate Brian Schwagerl, wants the brokers to be creative.

"He told us many of the editors and staff are women who love to shop and are home and design connoisseurs," said one breakfast-goer. Schwagerl declined comment.
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Old May 14th, 2006, 04:35 AM   #207
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nice tower
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Old June 4th, 2006, 03:16 AM   #208
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A few more June 1st Hearst

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Old June 4th, 2006, 07:40 PM   #209
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pretty much completed. just a few more interior work left to go. the facade looks cool when you look up at it close by, i must say.
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Old June 5th, 2006, 11:49 PM   #210
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From: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/05/bu...pagewanted=all
Hearst's New Home: Xanadu in Manhattan

Published: June 5, 2006
Frank A. Bennack Jr., the former chief executive of the Hearst Corporation, was recently touring the resplendent new headquarters the company has erected at Eighth Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan.

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
Fifty-five years after the death of William Randolph Hearst, the media company he founded is flush with profits and has realized Mr. Hearst's dream of erecting a Midtown skyscraper.

What would William Randolph Hearst, the company's legendary founder, have thought of this glass and steel monolith? he was asked. "He only wanted to own his own land and all the land that joined it," Mr. Bennack replied. Gazing around the lobby, he added: "He would have loved it."

Chances are that the Chief, as Mr. Hearst was known to his minions, would be as pleased with the seemingly flush condition of the empire he left behind on his death 55 years ago. Indeed, the company paid for the gleaming headquarters with $500 million in cash.

Among the media giants, the privately held Hearst has been a famously buttoned-up organization. It is gaining a higher profile at a time when publicly traded companies like Time Warner and the Tribune Company are under mounting pressure from disappointed investors. Now, Hearst's ability to move in any direction it chooses without having to explain itself to Wall Street is looking more like a strategic advantage.

The company has been able to go stealthily about its business of running media assets that include newspapers like The San Francisco Chronicle and The Houston Chronicle; scores of magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and Esquire; television stations; investments in cable channels; digital start-ups; and much else. It even publishes Floor Covering Weekly and sells ketchup and grass-fed beef under the Hearst brand from ranches it owns in California.

"Since I became C.E.O. of Hearst, people have said: 'Do you like running a private company?' and I've said 'Yes,' " said Victor F. Ganzi, who succeeded Mr. Bennack in 2002. "Now I say, 'No. I love running a private company.' "

Mr. Hearst might also be surprised by the unexpected and ambitious directions Mr. Ganzi has lately taken the business. In March, for instance, Hearst signaled a move away from traditional media by buying a 20 percent interest in the Fitch Group, which operates the Fitch bond rating service, from its French owner, for $592 million.

A month after the Fitch deal — as if to show the company had not given up on its ink-stained roots — it announced a complex deal with the newspaper publisher William Dean Singleton, which would effectively result in Hearst owning a 20 percent to 30 percent stake in Mr. Singleton's company, the MediaNews Group, at a cost of $263 million.

Typical of the inscrutable Hearst style, both of these recent deals make the company appear to be a passive, patient investor in a larger entity. But Mr. Ganzi revealed in an interview that both arrangements carry rights of refusal and other provisions that would allow Hearst to increase its stake in Fitch and MediaNews (excluding a group of California newspapers it owns) and potentially acquire control of both businesses down the road.

"We are comfortable with our minority stake in all these cases and if it never changes we are comfortable with that," Mr. Ganzi said. In the case of MediaNews, Mr. Singleton, 54, and another investor, Richard Scudder, who is 93, each currently own 45 percent of the group of 55 daily newspapers. "Ultimately, I think there will be opportunities," Mr. Ganzi said. Mr. Singleton did not return calls seeking comment.

It is probably no accident that the new 46-story headquarters, with its geometric form, latest technology and green design elements, stands atop the medieval-style cast-stone husk of a six-story Hearst Magazines office built in the 1920's. The profile-raising new tower, like its occupant, is a melding of newfangled and nostalgic — a throwback to the future.

"As a business, it's a bit of an amalgam," said Richard D. Parsons, the chief executive of Time Warner and a friend of Mr. Ganzi. "They're able to think beyond quarter-to-quarter and my sense is they've been very deliberate and thoughtful about building a business that will be around for a long, long time."

Indeed, only one of the company's main business units, Hearst-Argyle Television, is publicly traded — and, as it happens, it has not been much of an investment in recent years. While acknowledging that his company is not immune to the challenges of the Internet or slowing growth at some businesses, such as newspapers, Mr. Ganzi said the company was loath to sell assets.

Private but Tough

And while the company is assiduously private in nearly every sense of the word, it is not shy. Mr. Ganzi, 59, is known as a tough negotiator who recently took a personal role in tackling disputes with strong-minded media figures like Charles W. Ergen chief executive of EchoStar, which briefly took the Hearst-affiliated Lifetime Television channel off its satellite service, and Frank A. Blethen, a Seattle publisher trying to disentangle a partnership with The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a Hearst newspaper.

Mr. Ganzi, a civic-minded accountant and Harvard-trained lawyer, joined the company as its general counsel in 1990. He was brought up in Queens, and his family has owned half of The Palm chain of steakhouses for close to 80 years. Colleagues say Mr. Ganzi is possessed of a photographic memory, and he speaks in precise rapid-fire bursts.

He agreed to a rare interview, given all the curiosity about the company's new tower, yet he declined to meet in person or to pose for a photo. When asked why, he quickly replied into the telephone: "It's quite simple. Don't take this the wrong way: I've enjoyed talking to you but it doesn't make the Hearst Corporation another dollar."

Mr. Ganzi said Hearst executives did not take their private status for granted, and regularly benchmarked their performance against other publicly traded companies. Despite the company's heritage — dating back to 1887, when young William took over The San Francisco Examiner — Mr. Ganzi said that 85 percent of the company's profits came from businesses that were built, started or acquired in the past 30 years.

Through acquisitions, new publications and the nearly obsessive pursuit of brand extensions, the company says it has increased profits in 13 of the last 14 years, and last year raised net income by 10 percent, to about $850 million on revenue of more than $7 billion. (Hearst declined to share more detailed financial information.) By comparison, in 1951, the year Mr. Hearst died, the company had earnings of around $2.6 million, or $20 million in 2005 dollars.

Hearst has been known mostly for its magazines but, while the company generates nearly 60 percent of its revenue from advertising, magazines are expected to represent only 16 percent of its after-tax cash flow this year. Its 12 newspapers and 28 television stations contribute similar cash-flow numbers. According to the company, Hearst generates nearly half of its cash flow from having invested wisely in cable TV channels alongside the Walt Disney Company.

In fact, much of its business is conducted in a maze of partnerships and investments more typical of European family media dynasties than American media conglomerates. For instance, Hearst publishes Smart Money with Dow Jones, runs a magazine distribution business with its publishing rival Condé Nast, and in cable channels holds 50 percent of Lifetime, one-third of A&E and 20 percent of ESPN.

All three of those cable holdings are close partnerships with Disney, which also uses Hearst to distribute its ESPN Magazine. Hearst-Argyle Television, meanwhile, is the largest operator of affiliates for Disney's ABC network.

In a similar vein, NBC Universal owns another third of the cable channel A&E, and Hearst-Argyle is the second-largest operator of NBC affiliates. NBC Universal also recently acquired the Web site iVillage.com, in which Hearst was a 25 percent shareholder.

The ESPN stake, acquired for around $170 million in 1990, has been especially lucrative. Hearst's investment is now worth as much as $3.5 billion, estimates Laura Martin at Soleil Securities. And Robert A. Iger, Disney's chief executive, says: "In many respects we're joined at the hip. We don't really intersect with any other company in the world the way we do with Hearst."

Hearst's marquee magazine business has long bumped up against the fancier Condé Nast Publications and the Time Inc. juggernaut — both of which outstrip Hearst's stable of 20 magazines in terms of ad pages and revenue in the United States. But Hearst has fought for a place in the top rank of publishers under the direction of Cathleen Black, its magazine president for the last decade.

Print and Online

Most notably, Hearst Magazines has pursued an aggressive international expansion of its titles (Cosmopolitan alone has 56 separate editions) and enjoyed breakout success with O, The Oprah Magazine, a partnership with Oprah Winfrey, started in 2000. But a Lifetime magazine fizzled and other recent lifestyle ventures such as Shop Etc., Quick & Simple and Weekend appear, at first blush, more cautious than revolutionary.

But Ms. Black — a champion of print for whom, it seems, the glass is not half-full but overflowing — said the company was constantly looking at ways to introduce and extend brands. "It's got to be something that parts the waters," she said.

Her current focus is online. IVillage, before being sold, was the exclusive Web home for women's publications at Hearst. Now, the company is hustling to create its own digital sales division and pursuing new Web distribution deals like one Ms. Black announced last month with MSN.

Elsewhere, Hearst's approach to the Internet has been typically idiosyncratic. Rather than running Web businesses, it has made some 35 investments in interactive start-ups that have included Netscape and XM Satellite Radio. Some of the company's recent bets — including the companies Sling Media, Brightcove, USDTV and Current Communications — reflect Mr. Ganzi's interest in capitalizing on new forms of distribution for Hearst's video businesses.

Since a vast majority of Hearst's 20,000 employees are outside New York, magazine staff members will fill most of the new tower's floors. Corporate executives and some other divisions will take what is left. The original magazine building, completed in 1928, was part of a plan the Chief hatched in his heyday — when he owned three New York dailies — for a gigantic media plaza. Indeed, its structure was built to support additional floors. Realizing Mr. Hearst's dream of a Midtown skyscraper has been under study for decades.

In his will, Mr. Hearst left an estate in trust valued at roughly $51 million to his wife, five sons and two charities (around $400 million in today's dollars). One provision of the will was that nonfamily members occupy 8 of the 13 slots on the board of trustees. Another was that the trust would dissolve on the death of the last grandchild living on the day Mr. Hearst died. Mr. Ganzi said actuaries estimated that to be some time around 2045 — too far into the future to affect the company's strategic planning.

The Hearst Heirs

Despite their codified independence, several people close to Hearst said Mr. Ganzi and other executives take pains not to be seen as getting in front of the Hearst heirs who are its shareholders. Today, some 60 descendants of Mr. Hearst's sons are among the owners and "remaindermen" (those who will inherit an interest) of the trust. Many of them meet once a year for a picnic in Northern California where, among other activities, bocce is inexplicably a favorite, said George R. Hearst III, a great-grandson of the founder.

George Hearst III is associate publisher of The Albany Times Union, a Hearst paper, and one of several family members who work in the business. His father, George R. Hearst Jr., the oldest surviving heir, is Hearst's chairman. The February issue of the company's Town & Country magazine was uncharacteristically familial: it featured the model Amanda Hearst posing at San Simeon, her great-grandfather's storied castle, in a cover spread.

While there have been tremors of unrest among family members over the years — not uncommon in wealthy dynasties—George Hearst III said in an interview that the family had been uniformly supportive of the new tower.

While it is not exactly Xanadu, Hearst Tower is certainly a major upgrade for many of the company's rank and file. With its soaring entry and French Balzac limestone lobby floor, the building sets a Four Seasons tone for a magazine business that rivals have viewed as more of a Sheraton.

"I've always felt that that is not fair," Ms. Black said. "What I do believe is fair is we've been a very profit-driven company forever. But there's a big difference between being profit-driven and being cheap."

Regardless, the company's image seems certain to change. The complex, designed by Norman Foster, features a 168-seat theater with top-end acoustics, a shimmering crystal waterfall, and Café 57, a staff commissary clearly intended to vie with Condé Nast's renowned cafeteria. (In a nod to the past, the company has also rebuilt the Good Housekeeping dining room from the former building.)

The building has a gymnasium with fancy Italian equipment, which both supplies and launders workout clothes for employees. "I have to say that it's a lot more luxe than I expected," said David Granger, the editor of Esquire, whose staff is among 700 employees who have moved in as of last week.

Helen Gurley Brown, the longtime editor of Cosmopolitan and now head of its international editions, said she was delighted to be moving to a corner office with sweeping views on the 37th floor, leaving the fourth-floor space she occupies in Cosmo's current Midtown Manhattan offices. "I exercise after lunch every day on the floor of my office and I don't want to go clear down to the gym," Ms. Gurley Brown said. "But I think, on the 37th floor, if I stay down on the floor, no one is going to see me."

Hearst's executives say the best part is the culture that will emerge from gathering so many of their employees under one roof for the first time. Thus, for Mr. Ganzi, there is no contradiction in a media company whose bosses eschew public attention erecting a gleaming, translucent landmark.

"I'm less concerned about a statement to the world," he said. "I'm more concerned about a statement to my colleagues. It's a statement about our future as well as, I think, a statement and commitment to our past."
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Old July 14th, 2007, 08:33 PM   #211
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Old January 19th, 2008, 11:27 PM   #212
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Old October 3rd, 2017, 04:35 PM   #213
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Well im out of here and well... Lets see what happends. Hopefully no fires by Ryan Khoury, on Flickr

I really hope we dont run into any problems for launch. I dont want to have to come in here to put out fires... by Ryan Khoury, on Flickr
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