July 30, 2007 by Alec Appelbaum
Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) chairman Gene Kohn has confirmed that his team is designing a new headquarters for JPMorgan Chase’s investment bank at the World Trade Center site—a project that attracted considerable attention in June when the bank announced its intention to build in lower Manhattan—and stresses that despite an early PR setback, his design will satisfy project stakeholders as well as the public.
Known as World Trade Center 5, the new building will replace the Deutsche Bank tower, which was heavily damaged during the attacks on September 11, 2001 and is now being dismantled. Kohn says that he began studying the site two or three years ago at the request of its landlord, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. WTC5 will occupy a footprint of 32,000 square feet, ceding 18,000 square feet to the St. Nicholas Church, which will be rebuilt after its complete destruction during the attacks.
Kohn says that he performed several massing studies to design a way of wedging large floor plates onto the small available footprint. “Obviously the site has a lot of limitations, and the Port Authority wanted to see if JPMorgan Chase would go for it,” he explains. Preliminary sketches won the bank’s confidence in KPF—but when New York’s governor, Eliot Spitzer, unveiled them at a June 14 press conference, observers soon began piling on criticisms.
The most prominent feature of KPF’s glass-walled, 743-foot-tall tower is a cantilever located several stories up that is designed to provide space for the bank’s trading floors. While most levels of the building comprise 32,000 square feet, the seven floors in this section encompass as much as 56,000 square feet apiece. Critics worry that they might cast a sizeable shadow over a new public plaza at the World Trade Center site. In a Bloomberg news service item, James S. Russell described WTC5 as “a spectacularly amateurish performance by a firm capable of corporate design at the highest level.”
Even Spitzer’s comments seemed, at best, a lukewarm endorsement. “I’m not an aesthete so I refuse to pass judgment on this or others,” he said at the June press conference, “but it will [create] an all-weather park where it’s possible to play ball in the rain.”
The hubbub over KPF’s early sketches prompted the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which shepherds financing for Ground Zero, to defend the design in an e-mail news update on July 11. “(The cantilever) will cast a minimal shadow on Lower Manhattan, particularly compared to its taller neighbors,” the group said. These possible neighbors, which have yet to attract tenants, include office skyscrapers designed by Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, and Fumihiko Maki.
Contested designs at the World Trade Center site are nothing new, of course. For his part, Kohn hopes that KPF’s design will gain favor as it is refined; a final scheme will be ready this winter. He adds that the bank, which officially appointed KPF to design the tower on July 17, wants a beloved downtown landmark. The proposed WTC5 cantilever, Kohn says, “acts like a great porch, all glass and very light.”
WHAT A ZERO!
JPMORGAN PLANS HIDEOUS ‘BEER BELLY’ TOWER AT WTC
June 22, 2007 Steve Cuozzo
HERE’S the first look at JPMorgan Chase’s new headquarters across the street from Ground Zero – a 42-story skyscraper with a stack of floors protruding like a beer belly over a rebuilt church.
How did we end up with this lemon?
The midriff bulge accommodates giant trading floors. The odd design was necessary to save room on the ground for a new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox church, which will replace the original one destroyed on 9/11, and to minimize shadows on a new park.
The church will be built just north of JPMorgan on the same block, and Liberty Park will be on the block to the west.
Last week, the bank inked a $300 million deal with the Port Authority to build the tower on land where the ruined Deutsche Bank building at 130 Liberty St. is now being demolished.
Like much else at Ground Zero, the JPMorgan building’s bizarre form resulted from ever-changing plans that scrunched in more elements than easily fit.
Trading operations require the largest floors in buildings for Wall Street companies – so they’re usually at the bottom.
But three years ago, the state, city and PA decided to extend the World Trade Center to the block south of Ground Zero. The plan included the new church, the park – and an apartment building.
When JP Morgan came along instead, neighborhood residents expressed fears that giant trading floors starting at ground level would squeeze out the church or cast the park into complete shadow.
The tortured design by architects Kohn Pedersen Fox solves both problems. But it’s a glaring contrast to the eloquent, rational schemes in Ground Zero itself by architects David Childs, Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and Fumihiko Maki.
JPMorgan’s five cantilevered trading floors, starting at the 12th floor, will each have between 50,800 and 55,900 square feet – nearly twice as big as the floors above and below them.
Community Board 1 Chairwoman Julie Menin said, “I’m pleased to hear the preliminary shadow studies look promising,” but she did not want to comment further until a “full architectural presentation” next month.
Deutsche Bank Demo to Resume; JPMorgan Still Hopes for Platinum Beer Belly Building to Rise at 5 WTC by September
Stephen Del Percio | January 10, 2008 |
On Tuesday, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (“LMDC”) announced that it reached an agreement with its construction manager, Bovis Lend Lease, to hire a new subcontractor that will complete demolition efforts at the former Deutsche Bank Building on 130 Liberty Street. Work at the site has stalled for close to five months now in the aftermath of an August 18 construction fire on the project. LVI Services, Inc. will replace the John Galt Corporation (which was kicked off the job after evidence surfaced that smoking by its workers caused the fire) and first remove asbestos from the remaining 26 stories of the tower before razing it. The deal between Bovis and the LMDC came after a few testy weeks where the LMDC sent a notice of default to Bovis and came close to terminating the construction manager.
These developments are important to note because, as you may recall, KPF’s much-maligned design for the LEED Platinum Beer Belly Building, which will serve as JPMorgan Chase’s new headquarters, is set to rise at the site, provided that the Port Authority is able to turn it over to the bank by this coming September. (KPF is currently working on addressing some of the criticisms of its design). According to the Times, the non-binding agreement that JPMorgan reached with the agency last June also includes a six month extension provision for delivery of the land. The cost of the demolition has bulged from an initial estimate of $50 million back in 2005 to at least $150 million (though two insurance companies are responsible for paying 75 percent of the costs above $50 million). Sustainability remains central to the new designs for the former World Trade Center site, but it’s already clear that it will not be completely smooth sailing for the redevelopment here in 2008.