Contemporary Architecture

Joseph Urban and Norman Foster – Hearst Magazine Building


  • It is the world headquarters of the Hearst magazine Corporation
  • Architect – Joseph Urban, Tower – Sir Norman Foster
  • Location – 951-969 Eighth Ave at W47 , near Columbus Circle.
  • Date – 1928, tower 2006.
  • Construction – stone
  • Type – Office Building

The tower

  • Architect-  Norman Foster
  • Construction – Turner construction
  • 46 stories tall, standing 182 m (597 ft) with 80,000 m² (856,000 ft²) of office space.
  • Hearst Tower was the first skyscraper to break ground in New York City after September 11, 2001

About the building:

  • History – A blend of classicism and modernism
  • The former six-story headquarters building was commissioned by the founder, William Randolph Hearst and awarded to the architect Joseph Urban.
  • The building was completed in 1928 at a cost of $2 million and contained 40,000 sq. ft.
  • Originally built as the base for a proposed skyscraper, the construction of the tower was postponed due to the Great Depression.
  • The new tower addition was completed nearly eighty years later
  • A new modernist skyscraper got proposed on the same site in year 2000


  • Late modernist concept of Space, geometry and light
  • Neutral grid
  • Structure is used as an ornament
  • Foster’s design preserves the six-story façade of the landmark
  • From its hollowed-out core rises a geodesic-like office tower featuring triangular steel bracing from the 10th floor up.
  • It will have no vertical columns around the perimeter, creating corner views that are not possible in a typically framed building.
  • Diagrid  form termed as the ‘birds’ mouths.’ They open up most of the floors and allow a much more panoramic view
  • Win Win Situation

As it is situated above the subway, the project also had to go through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. In the end, in exchange for improvements to the subway station—including a new entrance, installing three elevators and adding moving stairwells—Hearst was given a bonus of six floors to add onto the tower.

Diagrid Pattern:

  • Triangular bracing on the perimeter of a skyscraper is not new. It has been done before, most notably for the John Hancock Building in Chicago.
  • “The triangular frames carry the gravity load and has inherent strength and resistance to the lateral loads, seismic and wind
  • The triangles are so efficient in terms of bearing both the gravity and lateral loads, the building  use 21 percent less steel (9,500 metric tons) than a conventional building of its size.

Green Features

  • Hearst Tower is the first green building completed in New York City
  • The floor of the atrium is paved with heat conductive limestone.
  • Polyethylene tubing is embedded under the floor and filled with circulating water for cooling in the summer and heating in the winter.
  • Rain collected on the roof is stored in a tank in the basement for use in the cooling system, to irrigate plants and for the water sculpture in the main lobby.
  • The building was constructed using 80% recycled steel. Overall, the building has been designed to use 25% less energy than the minimum requirements for the city of New York
  • No use of materials, coatings and adhesives that emit volatile organic compounds — known as V.O.C.’s
  • Glass in the building have a coating that tends to admit visible light while reflecting a large part of the invisible solar radiation that causes heat.
  • Light and motion sensors are installed as well, to turn off lights when people are absent or when there is enough natural light coming the glass outer wall that artificial lighting is not needed.
  • Earned a gold designation from the USGBC LEED certification program.

Entering from the existing arch it opens up and what one see is

  • Three escalators in front to the third floor level.
  • Those escalators are set into a sloping water sculpture, which will cascade down past one as goes up.

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3 thoughts on “Joseph Urban and Norman Foster – Hearst Magazine Building”

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