Ultimate Air Rights

by Jeffrey Smilow, (F.ASCE), Vice Pres.; Irwin G. Cantor, P.C., Consulting Engineers, 219 E. 42nd St., New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1991, Vol. 61, Issue 11, Pg. 38-41

Document Type: Feature article


The new 1 million sq ft office tower at 450 Lexington Ave. rises from available space between commuter railroad tracks, through the center of a renovated four-story post office and up 40 stories to an eye-catching basket of metal and glass. Post office patrons and office tenants will use separate street-level entrances, with tenants shuttling to the sixth-floor sky lobby via high-speed elevators. This double-height space, which overlooks the landscaped roof of the old post office and 45th Street, is the upper part of the structural system that mates the tower to the old building. Its base is the top of the structural table that made the entire project possible. Four megacolumns are the key to the structural solution posed by the multiuse, multiowner site. They form the legs of the table that carries the tower's gravity and wind loads within the shell of the old post office. The arrangement, which includes strengthening the shell's remaining single bay, eliminates the need to compromise the tower leasing requirements and the open plan of the 200,000 sq ft postal facility.

Subject Headings: Government buildings | High-rise buildings | Structural systems | Gravity loads | Wind loads | Commute | Railroad tracks | Rail transportation

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