A triumph in transparency and light with its expressive ceramic tube screen wall and its use of daylighting, the New York Times headquarters will signal the next generation of Manhattan skyscrapers when completed in 2006. Designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop in association with Fox & Fowle Architects, the design concept addresses first and foremost the culture of the New York Times and its philosophy, or what it refers to as its 'rules of the road'-honesty, integrity and the tradition of free speech and press. This idea of openness is articulated in the building's form and the selection of materials. Whereas skyscraper design of the past has had a monolithic, masculine feel, this slender interpretation offers a paradigm for the high-rise tower of the future. The use of steel is tempered by the abundance of glass, ceramic, wood and light.
With its sophisticated curtain wall, the building responds to and interacts with light unlike any of its high-rise neighbors. Sunlight is brought into the building via the clear glass curtain wall, and the elegant veil of white ceramic tubes acts as an architectural shading device that absorbs and reflects color, whether it is the golden yellow of a summer sun or the cool blue light of winter. As day turns to night, the glazed building transforms; its interior illumination emerges while the screen wall recedes, and we are reminded that the city and the cycle of news reporting is a 24/7 activity.
The idea of 'transparency' is layered throughout the project. It is important to this premier information provider that its activities be visible from the street. In turn, the organization keeps its eyes on the city: the open stairs at both the north and south edges of the tower's floor plan allow New York Times employees to move freely between floors while looking out at the city they serve. A comprehensive electric lighting and shading control system work in tandem with the abundant natural light to ensure that this unusually open work environment also has an unusually refined quality of illumination.
A beacon for the twenty-first century, the New York Times Building announces with its cultivated and graceful voice: Here I am. It is a testament to free exchange and the legacy of the organization, a reminder that design excellence does exist, and a hopeful symbol of the city's evolution and perseverance.
Project:The New York Times Daylighting Mock-Up, Queens, New York
Architect Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Paris, in association with Fox & Fowle Architects, New York City
Interior Architect:Gensler Associates, New York City
Interior lighting design: Susan Brady Lighting Design, New York City
Photographer: Elizabeth Donoff, except where noted
mock-up area a (north)
Mock-up area b (south)