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New Goldman Sachs Headquarters

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Henry Ives Cobb of Pei Cobb Fried


200 West Street




Neomodern architecture


Office Building


Concrete and steel frame
  The building
  The awning
  As seen from Battery Park City


Dow Jones Business News- Goldman to Build New Headquarters Near Trade Center Site
December 4, 2003

It may be fashionable for Wall Street brokerage houses to move to midtown, but Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE:GS - News) is staying downtown, Thursday's Wall Street Journal reported. The company plans to build a 1.5 million-square-foot headquarters across from the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Among the firms that fled to midtown Manhattan or New Jersey after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, were Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which moved its operations to midtown from the World Financial Center, and Morgan Stanley, which had operations in the Trade Center and relocated hundreds of staff to midtown and elsewhere. Adding to the pressure on downtown real estate, the financial- services industry -- downtown's historic anchor -- was hit hard by the tanking stock market, and layoffs numbered in the thousands.

Goldman is pushing ahead with plans to build downtown because it is facing lease expirations on three of the buildings it occupies in the area, including its headquarters on Broad Street, according to the person familiar with the firm's thinking.

Vacancies in the downtown market stood at 13% for the third quarter, more than double the number before Sept. 11, according to Cushman & Wakefield, a New York commercial real-estate services company, but the availability rate (which includes extra space companies are trying to sublease) is 3% to 4% higher.




Sachs tower nightmare grows

Glass from window panes rained down from the upper floors of the trouble-plagued Goldman Sachs tower in lower Manhattan, snarling traffic for more than two hours yesterday afternoon, authorities said. Police closed West Street near Battery Park City after the glass from the 43-story skyscraper crashed onto the roadway. No injuries were reported. The $2.4 billion office tower, slated for completion early in 2010, has been the site of a number of construction accidents over the past two years. In December 2007, seven tons of steel tumbled off the 740-foot-tall building, leaving an architect working in a nearby trailer paralyzed. Five months later, a sheet of steel plummeted from the 18th floor and landed in a baseball field where a Little League game was being played. And last April, a hammer fell and shattered the rear window of a passing taxicab.


  In With the New
By Eliot Brown December 8, 2009

As Goldman Sachs trades its old headquarters for the new, there is a notable constant: the financial firm’s desire for the nondescript.
The company’s new headquarters-to-be, at 200 West Street, is no avant-garde architectural statement, just as its old building, at 85 Broad Street, was entirely missable. The anonymity is on purpose: At a time when its status as the world’s most powerful company is something it would rather keep to itself, both buildings shield Goldman from the glare of unwanted attention.
The anonymous brown stone facade of 85 Broad has been replaced by a shiny glass curtain wall, a skin that blends in with other Battery Park City towers, and it will ultimately be dwarfed by the World Trade Center towers a block to the south. Like 85 Broad, the name “Goldman Sachs” appears nowhere on the building’s exterior, despite the fact that the firm owns and built the tower, and the 11,000 workers that fit inside will be Goldman employees.
Within its doors, things get a bit more flashy: Colorful murals coat the walls of the lobby and new auditorium, and an in-house fitness center and cafeteria sit in the floors above.
Move-ins began earlier this fall, and a Goldman spokeswoman said about 2,000 employees are in the building now, with the expectation that it will be mostly full by the spring. The landscaping is nearly done, as are a bike path and a drop-off: A long line of black town cars now wait for exiting employees outside the building’s front door.
The anonymity cannot be blamed on the current crisis since the tower was climbing long before it.
  A New Goldman Sachs Headquarters Sneaks Into the Lower Manhattan Skyline

By DAVID W. DUNLAP Published: August 24, 2008

With all the talk about what has not been built around ground zero, little attention is paid to what has: a 43-story investment bank headquarters where 11,000 people will be working next year.
That suits Goldman Sachs fine.

Famously averse to publicity, Goldman has said almost nothing about the $2.4 billion headquarters it is building in Battery Park City, cater-corner from the new 1 World Trade Center tower, since the project was announced three years ago. Though the firm will fill the tower from top to bottom, including six vast trading floors, its name will appear nowhere on the building, which will simply be called 200 West Street.
Only by accident has the building been in the news at all. In December, seven tons of metal studs fell as they were being hoisted by a crane.
Robert Woo, an architect with Adamson Associates International, one of the firms involved with the project, was seriously injured. He remains paralyzed from the waist down. In May, a piece of steel fell 18 stories onto a nearby ball field. No one was hurt.

Now that the steel framework has reached its full 739-foot height and the building has become an undeniable presence on the Lower Manhattan skyline, Goldman has permitted a peek into the headquarters and how it was designed.
Leading the architectural team is Henry N. Cobb, 82, a founding partner of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. After nearly 60 years living and working in New York, Mr. Cobb finally got to design his first Manhattan building. But you would not know it by looking at his firm’s Web site, where the Goldman Sachs headquarters — excuse us, 200 West Street — is not promoted on any list of projects. (Yes, Goldman insists on that level of discretion.)

The commission is unusually collaborative. Pei Cobb Freed and Adamson are working with Preston Scott Cohen, SHoP Architects, Ken Smith Landscape Architect, Piet Oudolf, Office dA, Architecture Research Office, Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, Gensler, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, each of which has charge of some facet of the building.
“The premise is that each of these diverse talents will cause the other to do their best work,” said Timur Galen, the head of corporate services and real estate for Goldman Sachs, who is an architect himself. The group was selected to mix experienced firms with newly developing ones.

Mr. Cobb said he had never worked on a project with so many collaborators but believed it was a fruitful approach. “No matter how skillful,” he said in an interview last week, “it’s fundamentally wrong to put 11,000 people in a building that has been shaped by one sensibility.”
The 2.1 million-square-foot building was shaped not only by aesthetics, but by zoning and design controls. One key restriction, to preserve riverfront views from the World Financial Center, severely limited how far the tower could extend to the southwest. Rather than render this setback as an angular slice, Mr. Cobb turned it into a gentle curve — after convincing Goldman executives that work stations would fit more efficiently into a curved floor plan.

He also incorporated angular incisions in the building facade that follow the diverging angles of Vesey Street, which bounds the site on the south, and Murray Street, which bounds it on the north.
The cuts and the curve help keep the tower from looking like a cereal box, Mr. Cobb said, and give it a form “shaped entirely by its concern for the external context.”

Another important zoning restriction, limiting the southernmost end of the building to 140 feet in height, all but guaranteed that the elevator core would have to be on the north end.
That means the elevators are almost 400 feet from the main entrance, at Vesey and West Streets. “The problem was how to make this unavoidable walk interesting and eventful, and not seen as a nuisance,” Mr. Cobb said. The West Street passageway will have an 80-foot-long mural on one side and 20-foot-high windows on the other, meaning the artwork will be visible to the public.

The public will also be able to see the outside of the free-standing 350-seat oval auditorium on the ground floor, recalling somewhat a Richard Serra sculpture.
The heart of the building, however, will be what Mr. Cobb called a kind of living room for Goldman on the 10th through 12th floors, where exercise, dining and meeting areas will be linked by a sky lobby and a sweeping three-story stairway — well out of public view.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
  Goldman agrees to pay ground rent for new headquarters

Goldman Sachs has reached an agreement in principle with the City, the State, and the Battery Park City Authority to pay $161 million ground rent for its new headquarters building in Battery Park City, according to multiple official sources and a company spokesperson. The firm was originally required to put these funds into an escrow account in return for the right to erect the new building, but was theoretically able to demand that they be returned after the City and State failed to meet a series of deadlines and milestones agreed to in 2005, such as the completion of a new transit hub and the World Trade Center Memorial, which were originally supposed to be finished by Dec. 31, 2009. The most important of these milestones was that the New York Police Department (NYPD) develop and implement a security plan for the World Trade Center complex and surrounding areas by the close of 2009.

The NYPD completed that plan on schedule, in the fourth quarter of last year, but will not be able to "implement" it for several more years because nothing has yet been built at the Trade Center site. For the past six months, says an official source familiar with the discussion, the Bloomberg administration has urged Goldman to accept its good-faith effort to complete the plan as sufficient to justify payment of the $161 million in ground rent. At the end of December, Goldman agreed.

"We've always said it's never been about the money," Goldman Sachs spokesperson Andrea Raphael said. "The New York City Police Department in particular has done a great job. Releasing the money is a gesture of our good faith and we will continue to work with the city on the outstanding issues to ensure pedestrian safety and accessibility for everyone in the Battery Park City community."

Although all sides say that a handshake deal has been reached, a formal agreement has not yet been finalized. When that happens (one government source expects it to be in the next month or so), the $161 million that has been sitting in as escrow account since 2005 will be released to the Battery Park City Authority.

- Matthew Fenton
BPC Broadsheet
  Shadow Building- The house that Goldman built.
by Paul Goldberger, May 17, 2010, The Newyorker

New York’s great financial institutions have traditionally seen architecture as a way of attracting notice. In 1960, when the Chase Manhattan Bank built a huge glass skyscraper in lower Manhattan, its name and logo were all over the building, and, just to make sure no one missed the point, it was given the official address of One Chase Manhattan Plaza. Chase was following the example of Bank of the Manhattan Company, which, in 1930, erected a building at 40 Wall Street, then the second-tallest skyscraper in the world, and of Bankers Trust, which was known for its pyramid-topped tower, a couple of blocks away.

Goldman Sachs, one of the largest and most profitable financial firms in the world, has a different view of things. Several thousand Goldman employees have just moved into a sleek steel-and-glass headquarters in lower Manhattan that is emphatically not called One Goldman Sachs Plaza. At 200 West Street, as the building is known, the name of the firm appears nowhere on the exterior, or in the lobby, or even on the uniforms of the security personnel or the badges given to visitors. Forty-three stories tall and two city blocks long, the Goldman building appears to have been designed in the hope of rendering the company invisible.

These days, it would be understandable if Goldman Sachs wanted to disappear: being the object of a suit by the Securities and Exchange Commission and, reportedly, of a criminal investigation by federal prosecutors is hardly conducive to the desire for a high profile. But this building, designed by Henry Cobb, of the firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, was planned long before the financial crisis, and before accusations were made that Goldman had bet against its own clients in the subprime-mortgage market. The design speaks less to Goldman’s current problems than to the firm’s long-standing obsession with being both extremely powerful and utterly inconspicuous.

Today, the idea that Goldman Sachs could operate with a low profile seems bizarre, even delusional. But for a long time it did. Its previous home, at 85 Broad Street, was a precast concrete tower, from 1983, one of the most forgettable tall buildings in New York. Having outgrown those premises, Goldman hired Cesar Pelli to build a glass tower in Jersey City, facing the Hudson River—finished in 2004, it’s the tallest and most elegant skyscraper in New Jersey—and laid plans for a new headquarters on the New York side, too. It fixed on a plot in Battery Park City, one block northwest of Ground Zero, which had been a parking lot for years. At the time, there was not a lot of development going on in lower Manhattan, and Goldman’s plans appear to have sent city and state officials into giddy ecstasy. They quickly agreed to give the company a hundred and fifteen million dollars in tax breaks and cash grants to build the new tower. More singular still, state and local governments decided to give the firm another big subsidy by letting it use $1.65 billion in tax-exempt Liberty Bonds, intended to stimulate economic development after 9/11, to cover part of the building’s $2.1-billion cost. Last month, Goldman announced that it had made a profit of nearly three and a half billion dollars in the first quarter of this year—enough to have paid for the entire building, in cash, in a couple of months, without any help from taxpayers.

It’s hard to keep such facts out of your mind as you look at the building. They don’t ultimately affect its qualities as a work of architecture, but it’s interesting how much of the firm’s calculating acumen comes across. Corporations dealing with architects often lack a sense of what they want to express. Should the building demonstrate power, modesty, or lavishness? Openness to new ideas or tradition and continuity? From the look of 200 West Street, Goldman knew exactly what it wanted; namely, to split all of these qualities right down the middle. The firm clearly aimed at a building that would appear modern but nowhere near the architectural cutting edge; neither cheap nor extravagant; and efficient without seeming merely functional. The result is a forty-three-story paradox: an understated palazzo.

Henry Cobb, whom Goldman hired after considering trendier candidates like Norman Foster and Richard Rogers, is a natural for a job like this, since he has spent a lot of his career—he is now eighty-four—being less visible than many of his peers, most notably his long-time collaborator I. M. Pei. The last skyscraper Cobb designed that might be considered cutting-edge was the austere John Hancock Tower, in Boston, which was finished more than thirty years ago and remains one of the most beautiful skyscrapers ever built. Cobb has a thoughtful, modest manner, and sometimes speaks so softly that you can barely hear him, but he has great determination—probably an attractive combination for Goldman.

The new headquarters is architecture as a well-tailored suit. From a distance, the building looks utterly unexceptional, but as you get closer your eye picks up signs of quality—the drape, as it were, and the stitching. Cobb’s façade of clear, colorless glass and bands of shiny steel is completely flat, and this two-dimensionality might have been dull were it not for the subtle shift of proportions in the quiet plaid pattern of the steel grid as it ascends. By the time you are close enough to touch this architectural garment, you can tell that a lot of money has been spent.

The building consists of a slab-shaped tower, which contains the firm’s offices, atop a much bulkier base, which contains six trading floors, each big enough to house nearly a thousand employees. From most angles, the tower looks rectilinear, except on the west, facing the Hudson River, where it bows out in a long, graceful curve. The firm insisted that the trading floors be as open as possible, so the architects used trusses to reduce the number of columns and pushed the elevators all the way to the north end of the building instead of running them up through the middle. The result is a lobby as large as an airport terminal, and, if you enter at the south end, an airport-like walk to the elevator. The lobby is austere, with plain limestone walls and no flourishes, but, to relieve the tedium of the long walk, Goldman commissioned two impressive abstract murals—an urgent and frenetic composition by Julie Mehretu, on the east side, and a blotchy and colorful one, by Franz Ackermann, on the west. Large windows allow a glimpse of the murals from the street, but this is as much of the building as the public will ever see. Goldman’s culture of secrecy has certainly saved it from offensive, Trump-style ostentation. By the same token, however, the building, unlike New York’s most admired business temples, will never mean much to people who don’t work in it.

There is another lobby up on the eleventh floor, where the base of the building and the tower join. It’s called the sky lobby, and, as in a high-rise hotel, all the elevators from the street stop here first, so everyone walks through the space to reach the upper floors. It’s like the main square of a gated community. A handsome, double-height room with skylights and huge windows looking out toward the Hudson, the lobby has red-oak panels, a smattering of modern furniture, and a series of wide doors leading to a large cafeteria. In the middle, a grand spiral staircase curls up one level to a series of conference and meeting rooms, and down one level to a fitness center.

The offices in the tower have wooden desks designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, thick carpeting, and plenty of space and natural light. The colors are soft and neutral, and the place has an air of comfortable blandness, in contrast to the energy of the trading floors below. Private offices have glass walls, and there are far fewer of them than there were at 85 Broad Street. Only partners have private offices, which leaves plenty of well-paid managing directors and vice-presidents sitting out on open-plan floors, their status indicated by how close they are placed to the natural light of the perimeter walls.

The most distinctive thing about 200 West Street is an initiative by Goldman to commission a number of forward-looking architects to design portions of the interior, like the cafeteria, the auditorium, and the fitness center—a way of giving younger firms that have rarely worked in this kind of corporate environment a chance to show what they could do. The results of this experiment are mixed. Office dA, based in Boston, produced a spectacular cafeteria, with a swooping white plaster ceiling and columns, a modernist take on Gaudi that plays off deftly against Cobb’s geometric shell. The New York firm SHoP did an auditorium, which has an impressive exterior wall of bronze panels but a distinctly conventional interior. Architecture Research Office designed a fitness center and a conference area, and Preston Scott Cohen came up with a quirky, angular glass canopy on one side of the building. Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg, a Toronto firm, did the two floors at the top of the building, which form a kind of executive penthouse of conference and dining rooms, complete with outside deck. The rooms here are larger, with opaque walls, and the feeling is even more hushed than it is below. Indeed, the voltage in this building seems to go down as you move up, which may partly explain why these floors lack the panache of KPMB’s best work, such as a stunning new music auditorium in Toronto, Koerner Hall. The executive dining rooms display a fine collection of architectural photography (thus Goldman’s princes dine surrounded by images of architecture more adventurous than their own) and are reached either by elevator or by a small private staircase hidden behind a door and manned by a security guard.

In a way, setting the work of edgy young firms within the staid structure of Henry Cobb’s design isn’t a bad analogy for the contemporary investment bank, in which an outward appearance of sobriety conceals the risky activities of autonomous units, busily devising complicated financial products poorly understood by outsiders. It’s unfortunate that almost all the daring touches at 200 West Street are inside, hidden from view. Then again, perhaps that’s the achievement: Goldman managed to pull off what it wasn’t able to do in the rest of its business—keep its risk-taking entirely out of sight. ?

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