New Details: One Vanderbilt Vies for Title of Midtown’s Tallest

One VanderbiltOne Vanderbilt rendering, image by Kohn Pedersen Fox via Crain's New York

While the Midtown East re-zoning awaits additional tweaking and ultimate passage, plans are already proceeding for SL Green’s new tower at One Vanderbilt, which will be built under a special permit. Kohn Pedersen Fox is designing the 67-story building, and the project’s draft environmental impact statement contains tentative new specifics regarding its total size.

Per illustrations, One Vanderbilt’s rooftop will measure 1,350 feet, while its ultimate pinnacle looks to stand approximately 1,450′ above 42nd Street; the latter number would place the building as the second tallest structure in New York City, behind One World Trade Center. Pending adjustments, an additional foot would put the skyscraper ahead of Chicago’s Willis Tower, making it the second-tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

One Vanderbilt

One Vanderbilt — image via the draft EIS

The structure’s roof height of 1,350′ will be slightly less significant, ranking below three of the 57th Street supertalls, as well as One and Two World Trade Center. Nevertheless, the building will become a neighborhood landmark, looming over the much-bemoaned MetLife tower. Unlike its monolithic neighbor, One Vanderbilt’s upper floors will be characterized by a series of setbacks, and the parapet recalls pre-war Manhattan, when the city was dominated by spires.

On lower levels, the tower’s plan includes both restaurants and retail space; SL Green will also dramatically improve conditions on Vanderbilt Avenue, which will soon become a pedestrian gateway into the revitalized Midtown East. KPF’s latest icon will also have direct subway access.

One Vanderbilt

One Vanderbilt — image via the draft EIS

In terms of specifics, One Vanderbilt will have 1.079 million square feet of office space, 246,000 square feet reserved for trading floors, 53,000 square feet of retail, 27,000 square feet for restaurants, and 55,000 square feet dedicated to rooftop amenities, including an observation deck. The development’s total scope includes another 343,500 square feet of unusable space, for a total volume of 1.8 million square feet, and an FAR of 30.

One Vanderbilt

One Vanderbilt’s base, image via KPF/Crain’s

The potential deck at One Vanderbilt would offer a new perspective on the skyline to the general public, given the site’s distance from both the Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building’s 102nd floor. Including such a feature will further enhance the tower’s potentially iconic status.

As Midtown’s built environment finally catches up with 21st-century demands, One Vanderbilt will likely be joined by other ‘supertall’ buildings. Demand for new development in the surrounding neighborhood is extreme, and given the prices people are willing to pay for premium office and residential space, future structures will likely push even taller, especially if the re-zoning allows for significant residential density.

De Blasio’s push for more affordable housing must come with a similar thrust to reduce constraints on market-rate development, which is the housing most New Yorkers inhabit. In its current state, ‘affordable housing’ is a misnomer, and securing such a unit is like winning the lottery; 50,000 New Yorkers applied for 124 apartments at one such development in Harlem.

Adding the potential for significant residential development to the Midtown East re-zoning would create new living options for the neighborhood’s office workers, while also transforming the area from a relatively sterile business district into a thriving hub where people can both live and work. Plans for One Vanderbilt are proceeding without thought for this potential, though the KPF-designed building will still enhance the pedestrian sphere and the skyline, maximizing its built envelope.

One Vanderbilt

One Vanderbilt — image via the draft EIS

No formal completion date has been announced — and the site’s existing structures must still be demolished — but given the recent news that SL Green is in talks with TD Bank as a potential anchor tenant, a 2020 completion date would appear feasible.

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