1 World Trade Center Deemed Tallest Building in America; Chicago's Willis Tower Dethroned Despite Being Taller

Categories: Buildings

Photo Credit: Amiga-Commodore via Compfight cc
Today, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat ruled that the ornamental spire atop 1 World Trade Center should count toward its total height, making it the "tallest" building in America. This means that the Willis Tower (née Sears Tower) has been demoted to second place in the American skyscraper height standings, despite the fact that its roof is 82 feet taller than 1 World Trade's -- and that its own antennas weren't counted because they actually do something.

Here's an idea: To celebrate, they should build a slide from the top of 1 World Trade Center to the top of the Willis Tower for revelers to slide down. But, wait, that wouldn't work, as people would have to actually climb up the slide to reach the roof of the "shorter" Willis Tower.


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Faced With A Lawsuit, J.P. Morgan Chase Claims Plaza is Private

The disputed fences around Chase Manhattan Plaza.
A year and a half after the fences first went up around Chase Manhattan Plaza, new court filings show the fight over public access to the space is still heated.

We've written extensively about the fight over the fences, which were first erected the day before Occupy Wall Street protesters first gathered in Lower Manhattan. Open space activists initially challenged Chase's unilateral closure of a treasured downtown plaza on the grounds that the fencing violated prohibitions against altering the exterior of landmarked buildings. Chase countered that the fencing was only temporary, and was needed not to keep out the bank's critics, but rather to protect the public during scheduled maintenance on the plaza. The landmarks challenge fizzled, and the fences stayed up, though neighborhood residents saw little if any maintenance work being performed behind the fences.

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JP Morgan Chase Under Pressure Over Plaza Closure

Categories: Buildings, Parks

The fences around Chase Manhattan Plaza, first erected in September, will stay up at least until next spring.
Pressure is mounting on JP Morgan Chase to account for the ongoing closure of Chase Manhattan Plaza in Lower Manhattan.

The Voice has been tracking the ongoing saga of the fenced-off public plaza since January -- see previous coverage below -- but others are starting to growing curious as well. Gothamist and the New York Times have recently written about the fenced-off plaza, and last week the local community board held a hearing to demand some answers.

Officials from JP Morgan Chase appeared in front of Community Board 1 last week to defend the closure of the plaza. DNAInfo reports that Financial District residents attending the meeting were angry and frustrated at the closure of one of the only open spaces in the neighborhood, and also skeptical of the Chase officials' claims that the closure is part of routine maintenance and not a response to the Occupy Wall Street protests.

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Secret Waterproofing Plan For Chase Manhattan Plaza Goes To Court

The latest version of the fencing surrounding Chase Manhattan Plaza.
Open space advocates fighting against the fencing off of Chase Manhattan Plaza in Lower Manhattan will have their day in court next month.

The open space advocates, led by Richard Nagan, an expediter licensed by the Department of Buildings, first raised alarms when JP Morgan Chase erected barriers completely surrounding the historic landmarked plaza the day before Occupy Wall Street began.

But the court won't actually be hearing the question of whether Chase went through the proper channels before fencing off public art and a historically public plaza for more than seven months. Instead, lawyers will be arguing about when the specter of terrorism can be used justify suppressing information that would otherwise be public.

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JP Morgan Chase's Life-And-Death Secret Waterproofing Plan

Francisca Benitez
The plaza is still fenced off, but apparently just why is a state secret.
The ongoing fight to reopen Chase Manhattan Plaza in the Financial District has taken a strange turn.

The nation's biggest bank has undertaken a (possibly imaginary) waterproofing repair project in the plaza. But this is no ordinary (possibly imaginary) waterproofing repair project; this one is so critical, so high-stakes, that the NYPD and the Buildings Department say details of the plan must be kept top secret, because people's lives are on the line.

First, a quick recap: For more than six months, ever since the day before Occupy Wall Street first kicked off, the plaza has been mysteriously surrounded by fencing, closing off the popular lunch spot, historic landmark, and home to significant public art.

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Fences Are Still Up -- What's Going On At Chase Manhattan Plaza?

Stephan von Muehlen
Six months and counting, the historic landmark is still fenced off.
In January we told you about the fight over Chase Manhattan Plaza, an architectural landmark and one of the few open spaces in Lower Manhattan, which has been completely fenced off for six months.

Back in January, there wasn't any obvious reason for closing off the plaza, a popular lunch spot and home to some significant public art. JP Morgan Chase, which owns the property, wouldn't comment, but security guards on site confirmed that the fencing was there to keep Occupy Wall Street protesters at bay.

A group of open-space advocates called #whOWNSpace questioned whether fear of public protest was a legitimate reason to wall off a publicly-used resource and officially designated city landmark, and challenged the city to make JP Morgan Chase take the fences down.

Nearly two months later, the fences are still up. But that's not to say that nothing has changed.

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David Schwimmer Buys Historical EV Townhouse, Demolishes It, Incurs Wrath of Villagers

Thumbnail image for David_Schwimmer.jpg
via Wikimedia Commons
Looks like East Village residents aren't happy with their newest celebrity neighbor. The New York Post was able to confirm that David Schwimmer, one-time Friends star, is the owner of a historical East Village townhouse which was recently demolished to make way for a six-story mansion. As can be expected, fellow Sixth Street denizens are not pleased about it.

Schwimmer bought the building, at 331 E. 6th St., in 2010 for $4.1 million. Built in 1852, it was one of the oldest structures on the block.

Of course, old buildings are bought and sold and remodeled in the Village all the time. The area is hugely popular with students and celebrities, and developers and real estate agents know they can get more money for a nicer building.

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Transel, Company Responsible for 285 Madison Elevator, Has Been Sued at Least Eight Times

Following up on the elevator tragedy that caused the death of Suzanne Hart, a Y&R ad executive working at 285 Madison Avenue, the New York Post reports that Transel, the elevator maintenance company responsible for the elevator (work was reportedly done hours before the accident that killed Hart), has been sued at least eight times from people who say they were injured in its various -- some 2,500 in the city -- elevators.

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Designers of Planned Twin Towers Look-Alike in Seoul 'Regret Deeply' Resemblance

A Dutch architecture firm has designed a building in Seoul that has offended some because of its uncomfortable resemblance to the World Trade Center in a cloud of dust and smoke:

seoul twin towers cloud.jpg

The project, called "The Cloud," is the work of MVRDV, a firm in Rotterdam. It's intended to be luxury high-rises. This week the firm has issued a statement apologizing for "any connotations The Cloud projects evokes regarding 9/11."

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New York City Gets Adorable New Scaffolding

Scaffolding, pre-makeover.
What is the true blight of New York City? The awful, industrial scaffolding that crops up to hide the beauty of attractive things and make ugly things uglier, usually when you least expect it, truly ruining any photo op you might be planning on having. Just a fact of life in a city, and something we have to get used to, grin and bear, and ignore? No longer! The New York Times reports that a new, prettier scaffolding prototype will soon be enjoying itself on a street near-ish you. One will be installed in December in front of 100 Broadway, an office building in Lower Manhattan. This is very exciting.

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