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Rendering credit: Visualhouse Rendering credit: Visualhouse
The ongoing skyscraper race is has reached a new milestone. For the first time in the history of New York, and likely that of any other city on Earth, two supertall buildings have topped out within two days. Just twenty-four hours after yesterday's official topping-out of Central Park Tower, the spire at One Vanderbilt has reached its 1,401-foot pinnacle, which now ranks as the city’s fourth-tallest structure, after One World Trade Center (1,792 feet), Central Park Tower (1,550 ft), and the Empire State Building (1,454 ft). The office tower, developed by SL Green and designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, is expected to open next year.


On May 31st, CityRealty announced the erection of a second tower crane atop the One Vanderbilt, which stood around 1,000 feet tall at the time. The new tower crane perched at the side of the skyscraper’s then-flat top, in contrast to the centrally-located crane that assembled the building’s office floors. The new crane was used to dismantle its predecessor and to assemble the cocoon-like, slanted crown, which rose over the course of late summer. The tower's vertical rise has picked up dramatically in recent weeks, when the 100-foot-plus girder cage rose in less than a month, surpassing the angled, 1,296-foot pinnacle of 30 Hudson Yards which topped out in July 2018.

1-vandebilt-Avenue-04 Photo of 1 Vanderbilt with newly-attached spire illuminated blue (right-hand side) Credit: Max Touhey
Max Touhey
Max Touhey
The topping-out takes place exactly two years and eleven months after the building’s groundbreaking ceremony was held on October 18, 2016. The first phase of the assembly occurred between 9:50 and 11:00 AM on September 16, when the structure rose from a stub-like foundation to around halfway of its final height. The crane lifted the spire from in several multi-ton sections, each measuring about ten to thirty feet in height. The roughly 50-foot-tall upper portion was test-fitted on the morning of September 17, though it was later lowered back to the staging area on Vanderbilt Avenue. Today, just before 1:00 PM, the crane lifted the spire back to its lofty perch, where it crowns the Midtown skyline and will grace countless postcards for years to come.


The New York skyline has captured the world’s imagination since the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty rose by the harbor in the late 19th century. In the decades since, the world’s most famous skyline has hosted several of the world’s tallest buildings, which literally raced one another for the record-breaking title at the end of the 1920’s, when 40 Wall Street, the Chrysler Building, and the Empire State Building all claimed the crown within a roughly one-year span.

One Vanderbilt, topping out, skyline, SL Green, KPF, Vitali Ogorodnikov One Vanderbilt on the Midtown skyline (Max Touhey)
one-vanderbilt-004 Visualhouse for KPF/SL Green
Today, the city is in the midst of a skyscraper race not seen since the Jazz Age. A few years after the World Trade Center topped out as the Western Hemisphere's tallest building in 2013, a series of supertalls brought further transformation to the skyline. Pencil-thin 432 Park Avenue turned heads when it rose 1,397 feet as the world’s tallest all-residential building, yet with the imminent topping out of Central Park Tower, 432 Park no longer ranks even as the tallest building on 57th Street. One Vanderbilt's spire reaches four feet higher than 432 Park, yet both will soon be usurped by 111 West 57th Street, which is currently a few steel beams shy of reaching its 1,428-foot parapet.


The skyline race extends beyond the principal skyscraper districts of Downtown and Midtown. Across the Hudson River, 900-foot-tall 99 Hudson Street became New Jersey’s tallest building in late 2018. On the Upper West Side, 200 Amsterdam Avenue has recently reached its top floor, and is expected to top out at 668 feet in the coming weeks, becoming the neighborhood’s tallest building. Last week in Queens, Skyline Tower surpassed One Court Square to become the city’s tallest building outside of Manhattan, a title that the future 778-footer will hold until Brooklyn’s 9 DeKalb tops out at 1,066 feet some time next year.

The tallest towers of the 1920s tapered into slender, spindly spires. By contrast, the broad-shouldered skyscrapers of the 1970’s building boom rose to flat rooftops, most notably the late and great Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The ongoing renaissance presents greater variety, from no-frills tops at 432 Park and Central Park Tower to a sheet-like slab atop 111 West 57th . One Vanderbilt's crown of angled, slanted setbacks, capped with a spire, resembles the aesthetic of the nearby Empire State and Chrysler Buildings, reimagined in bold, 21st-century style, fitting for the New York’s skyline's ongoing golden era.


One Vanderbilt, Vitali Ogorodnikov One Vanderbilt. Credit: Vitali Ogorodnikov
One Vanderbilt, topping out, skyline, SL Green, KPF, Vitali Ogorodnikov

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Content & Research Manager Vitali Ogorodnikov