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8 Spruce Street New York City wins Emporis Skyscraper Award


December 11, 2012

8 Spruce Street was chosen from a list of more than 220 skyscrapers completed in 2011

8 Spruce Street was chosen from a list of more than 220 skyscrapers completed in 2011

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Ever since skyscraper construction was conceived developers have continued to push the boundaries to build the biggest and best mega structures imaginable. These giants of construction are constantly reviewed and rewarded by global building information specialist Emporis in its annual skyscraper award which has been running since 2000.

The award winners are selected from skyscrapers completed in the previous year and more than 220 skyscrapers were considered for the prize this time around.

The winner was Frank Gehry's first venture into skyscraper design, in a city where you may think you have seen it all: 8 Spruce Street. Also known as "The Beekman" or "New York by Gehry," the building impressed the judges with its undulating steel facade which embraced radical new construction techniques in the skyscraper industry.

The 76 floor tower stands just south of the Brooklyn Bridge. It stretches to 867 feet tall and at 1.1 million square feet in area, it's the world’s largest residential tower. It is a mixed-use building offering 903 residential units, high-end services, as well as a school and ambulatory care center for the New York Downtown hospital.

Construction took five years and the cladding, designed to evoke the appearance of fabric draping over the building according to Gehry, is comprised of 10,500 stainless steel panels of different shapes. In addition each apartment on the north side has a bay window that is not vertically aligned to its neighbor and each apartment is configured differently to fit the building's seven-sided design. By contrast the south side has a flat panel design that serves to strengthen the structural composition.

The stainless steel and glass façade of 8 Spruce Street gives the building a sense of movement and is testament to the innovative structural engineering solutions applied in its construction. The building is reinforced concrete with cast-in-place concrete flat plate floors supported by reinforced concrete columns and shear walls. The lateral wind and seismic activity system is reinforced concrete shear walls which wrap around the building’s core. With all of the shear walls centralized around the core no walls are required to run through residential floors providing unobstructed design space.

To meet the challenge of the undulating façade with its different layouts for each floor, "walking" columns are placed on different locations and levels throughout, but some are consistently located on similar planes every 8 to 12 floors. These accommodate the different footprints of the floor plates and the subsequent changing slab edges throughout. Walking columns "broaden" or "walk" on the different floors to provide cohesion with the column located above or below, this meant that engineers could avoid using any sloping columns throughout the undulating construction.

The five floors at the base of the building are clad in brick, as Gehry wanted the façade to be in the spirit of the neighboring buildings. Venturing inside, oval-shaped concrete columns are also used in the aesthetic finish of the interior lobby, these were created by using custom-designed, 19 foot tall, fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP).

According to the Emporis Jury: “8 Spruce Street stands out even in Manhattan’s remarkable skyline ... it is a major new architectural landmark for New York.”

The Al Hamra Tower in Kuwait and Etihad Towers in the United Arab Emirates took out second and third place in the Awards respectively. The remaining top 10 skyscrapers announced this year can be found by following the Emporis link below.

Sources: Emporis, New York by Gehry

About the Author
Donna Taylor After years of working in software delivery, Donna seized the opportunity to head back to university and this time study a lifelong passion: Architecture. Originally from the U.K. and after living in many countries, Donna and her family are now settled in Western Australia. When not writing Donna can be found at the University of Western Australia's Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts Department. All articles by Donna Taylor

I like it. Is there any affordable housing available?

Mark A

Gehry and Gaudi. Two architects that I admire more than anything for their salesmanship. How they convinced clients to actually build their monstrosities is beyond me!


Did "the Donald," build this? Wow...


Haha, well said fatalflaw. I tip my hat to the engineers who had to make this thing work; and I throw my shoes at the architects for designing such a monstrosity.


Gaudi-esque and BEAUTIFUL

Azar Attura

@fatalflaw: You're probably right re salesmanship, but I went to have a good look yesterday, and it's absolutely spectacular.


Here's hoping it leaks less (and requires less rebuilding) than the Stata Center he designed for MIT! I guess this time it won't matter so much that the elevators and stairs aren't anywhere nearby, but I still think that anyone with a vague sense of functionality would be horrified to give this man a prize.

Charles Bosse

If that thing was damaged in an earthquake, you'd never be able to tell.

Jon A.

Jon A. Great post, I thought it got too hot and melted

Bill Bennett

Seems the architect Gehrey is taking his inspiration from Gaudi's apartment and hotel and chirch in Barcelona - not that copying is a bad thing when the ideas are both public and inspiring!

Jack Surrey

It is not the ugliest building I have ever seen but I have been forced to drive by the Denver Art Museum.


re; equator180

I doubt it "the Donald" has good taste.

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