SKY HIGH & the logic of luxury

October 9th, 2013 through April 19th, 2014

Click here to view the virtual exhibition

SKY HIGH examines the recent proliferation of super-slim, ultra-luxury residential towers on the rise in Manhattan. These pencil-thin buildings-all 50 to 90+ stories-constitute a new type of skyscraper in a city where tall, slender structures have a long history.

Sophisticated engineering and advances in material strengths have made these spindles possible, but it is the excited market for premium Manhattan real estate that is driving both heights and prices skyward, Reported sales seem almost inconceivable: some penthouses in the buildings featured here are in contract for $47 million to $95 million.

Left to right: 432 Park Avenue, One57, 111 West 57th, Four Seasons at 30 Park Place, 56 Leonard, Hudson Yards Tower D.

Left to right: 432 Park Avenue, One57, 111 West 57th, Four Seasons at 30 Park Place, 56 Leonard, Hudson Yards Tower D.

The rarified geographies of where these projects take shape and the economics of high land costs, high-style design and construction, and stratospheric sales prices are deconstructed.… Read the rest


Crafted by Michael Chesko [DOWNLOAD Michael Chesko Mini Models Press Release] CLICK HERE for WIRED Magazine article The Museum's amazing mini-Manhattan models and their creator Michael Chesko are featured in this month's Wired Magazine's Design section. View dramatic photographs in the online article that juxtaposes New York models with other city models throughout the world, including the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center's model, which measures 6,500 square feet.
Michael Chesko's Mini Manhattan Models
Two highly-detailed, hand-carved miniature wooden models of Downtown and Midtown Manhattan have been donated to The Skyscraper Museum by Arizona resident Mike Chesko, a 49-year-old retiree and devoted amateur model maker. In June, Chesko, his wife, son and niece drove cross-country to transport the precious panoramas to the museum and to see the real city at full scale. It was their first trip to New York. Read More!


Thomas Airviews, 1956 and 1976  Stan Ries, 2004

Thomas Airviews, 1956 and 1976
Stan Ries, 2004

Lower Manhattan in the Sixties was a mature business district trapped in the fitments of an earlier age. A corset of finger piers bounded the island’s edge, constraining growth. The downtown waterfront had been rendered obsolete, first by larger ships with deeper drafts, and from the late 1950s, by containerization which drove shipping to relocate to the vast, vacant expanses of the New Jersey lowlands. Of 51 piers, only 18 were active in 1966. The remnants of the working waterfront still exaggerated congestion, as cargo was unloaded onto the street. Elevated highways intended to improve traffic flow further segregated the public from the rivers.

The reclamation and reinvention of the waterfront became a chief focus of plans for Lower Manhattan. Strategies included demolishing the decaying piers and enlarging the island, either by landfill, as at Battery Park City, or by platforming over the water, as intended, but not executed, on the East River.
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World's Three Tallest Towers

1:500 scale models of the world’s three tallest buildings

The models of Burj Khalifa, Taipei 101, and Shanghai World Financial Center, all created at the same 1:500 scale, represent the three tallest buildings in the world in 2012. At 828 m/ 2717 ft., Burj Khalifa is the tallest manmade structure in every refereed category, which includes highest roof level or occupied floor; highest integral architectural feature; and highest additional structure/ antenna.

Burj Khalifa exceeds by more than one thousand feet the next tallest occupied building, Taipei 101. In other building categories-in particular TV and broadcasting towers, which often double as tourist sites-two new structures, Canton TV tower and Tokyo Sky Tree, recently topped out at heights of around 2,000 ft.

The red model of Taipei 101 is a wind-tunnel model, created to test the structural design and performance of the tower before it is constructed.… Read the rest

The Woolworth Building @100

FEBRUARY 27, 2013 through SEPTEMBER 15, 2013

Click here to view the virtual exhibition

Click here for exhibition programming

woolworth at night

Woolworth Building at Night,
April 24, 1913. Library of Congress.


Eighty thousand incandescent bulbs illuminated the New York night on April 24, 1913, when the Woolworth Building opened with a ceremony attended by 800 dignitaries. Witnessed by multitudes and wired to press around the world, the brilliant spectacle was a career-crowning achievement for the tower’s owner, the five-and-dime store king Frank W. Woolworth, who paid for the skyscraper with his personal fortune and took a hands-on role in every decision of its design. The great Gothic tower-the Cathedral of Commerce-became the preeminent silhouette on the New York skyline and took the title of world’s tallest office building.


Atlantic Terra Cotta workers
underneath a buttress on the forty-
seventh story, “A 52-Story Facade,”
Atlantic Terra Cotta Company, 1913.

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The History of Height



The Skyscraper Museum’s permanent gallery features a 36-foot long mural that presents selected episodes in the history of height from the pyramids to the present, highlighting themes and buildings that relate to the evolution of the skyscraper and point the way to 21st-century supertalls. It examines the ambition to build high, the technological advances and engineering innovations that enabled that desire, the economics that drove commercial development, the influence of outstanding architectural designs, and the codes and regulations that shaped buildings and skylines.

On the top row is a lineup of the successive structures that held the title of “world’s tallest building.” On the lower range these are scaled in silhouettes that chart that ascent through the traditions of building in masonry, metal, and concrete, leading up to the first skyscrapers in New York and Chicago in the 1870s and 1880s.… Read the rest

URBAN FABRIC: Building New York’s Garment District

July 25, 2012 through January 20, 2013.

Click here to view the virtual exhibition!
View curator Andrew Dolkart’s lecture, “Developing the Garment District!”

The largest concentration of skyscraper factories in the world, the 18 blocks that were the heart of New York’s Garment District, once supported more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs and produced nearly 3/4 of all women’s and children’s apparel in the United States. The rapid development of the district–the area of west midtown from 35th to 41st Streets and from Seventh to Ninth Avenues–occurred almost entirely within the boom decade of the 1920s, when more than 125 stepped-back “loft” buildings took the pyramidal forms dictated by the city’s new zoning law.

Most of the high-rises were erected and owned by immigrant entrepreneurs who had begun their climb from clothing manufacturers, to builders, to real estate moguls. Some made and lost fortunes as boom turned to bust in the Depression, and their names–Lefcourt, Adler, Bricken, among others–have faded.… Read the rest


World Trade Center

World Trade Center

Through several past exhibitions, The Skyscraper Museum has examined the history of the World Trade Center complex in its conception, design, and construction from the 1960s through the mid-1970s– and their destruction on the morning of 9/11. A special section devoted to the Word Trade Center and rebuilding at Ground Zero occupies a portion of the Museum’s galleries.

Upon their completion in 1971 and 1973, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were the tallest and largest skyscrapers in the world. Innovative engineering carried the structures to 110 stories- 1368 and 1362 feet (417 and 415 meters) -creating floors an acre in size, with more than 4 million square feet per building. Except for the contemporary Sears Tower in Chicago, nearly 100 feet taller, but slightly smaller in total area, no skyscraper has ever matched their scale.… Read the rest

News Paper Spires

February 2012 - July 2012 The first chapters in New York's high-rise history were written in the 1870s through the early 1900s when the city's great newspapers --the Times, Tribune, and World, among others-- erected tall towers as signature headquarters. "Newspaper Row" on the east side of City Hall Park was center stage for their architectural competition and a concentrated hub of production, transforming news into newspapers. These early skyscrapers were both ostentatious advertisements of the papers' self-proclaimed supremacy and vertical factories where on high floors, editors approved stories and compositors set type, while in the cellar and basement, steam engines or dynamos powered thundering presses that night and day rolled out tens of thousands of papers per hour.

URBAN FABRIC: Building New York’s Garment District

The Skyscraper Museum


A FREE EXHIBITION at 1411 Broadway, corner of 40th St.

August 5, 2013 – October 31, 2013


Once home to the largest concentration of skyscraper factories in the world and more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs, New York’s historic Garment District has changed dramatically in the past 50 years, but remains one of the city’s most authentic neighborhoods. Constructed almost entirely in the boom decade from 1921-1931, the “Art Deco” district contains more than 125 stepped-back “loft” buildings that took the pyramidal forms dictated by the city’s then-new zoning law.

From August 5 through October 31, The Skyscraper Museum is presenting a FREE exhibition on the architecture and urban history of the Garment District in a pop-up space at 1411 Broadway. The installation reprises the exhibition The Skyscraper Museum originated last year in its lower Manhattan gallery. … Read the rest


July 2011 – January 2012. SUPERTALL! is an international survey of superlative towers featuring projects that have been completed since 2001, are under construction, or are expected to top out by 2016. Take a virtual tour of the exhibit here!

Tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard
Factory Conversation Series15

A tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, America’s model for sustainable urban manufacturing, will be held on the afternoon Thursday, June 2. See the City-landmarked dry dock and industrial spaces. Please meet at York Street – F Train stop at 5:15 pm to meet the shuttle bus. The suggested contribution is $35 to be paid online at: www.verticalurbanfactory.org –– Contribute, or bring a check made to New York Foundation for the Arts to the event. Ending at Re-Bar in Dumbo for a drink after. Rain or shine.

RSVP by May 31 to jamie.chan[at]gmail[dot]com.

 … Read the rest

The Rise of Wall Street Lecture Series

The Rise of Wall Street Lecture Series

In conjunction with its 2010 exhibition, The Rise of Wall Street, The Skyscraper Museum presented a series of lectures extending public access to the exhibition’s themes. These lectures gathered leading historians, architects, public servants, developers, and community organizers to discuss both the past and the future vision of America’s most iconic street.

Exhibition Overview

THE RISE OF WALL STREET charts the architectural evolution of one of the world’s most famous locales. “Wall Street” is a broad metaphor for the American center for global finance and a real place with an inordinately rich history layered into every lot of its nearly half-mile length, stretching from Trinity Church on Broadway to the East River.

From colonial times, when the first bastions were erected to mark the edge of town, Wall Street has been continuously transformed, both in function –from commercial and residential to financial –as well as in scale.… Read the rest

Vertical Urban Factory

January 2011–June 2011 Vertical Urban Factory features the innovative architectural design, structural engineering, and processing methods of significant factory buildings from the turn of the 20th century to the present. Now, over a century after the first large factories began to dominate our cities, the exhibition poses the question: Can factories present sustainable solutions for future self-sufficient cities?

Kathryn Holliday: Ralph Walker and the Making of 1 Wall Street

October 25, 2010

Kathryn Holliday

Ralph Walker and the Making of 1 Wall Street

Click here to watch our video of the lecture

The great Art Deco tower of 1 Wall Street culminates architect Ralph Walker’s 1920s skyscraper designs. More expensive and elaborate than his firm’s many previous telephone and telegraph buildings, 1 Wall Street epitomized Walker’s concept of “humanism,” a modern approach to the integration of hand-craft and machine work, expressed inside and out in the building’s rippling curtain walls and dramatically draped interior spaces.

Kate Holliday is an architectural historian and Assistant Professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington. Her research focuses on American architecture and theory, particularly interactions with Europe. Her book Leopold Eidlitz: Architecture and Idealism in the Gilded Age (W. W. Norton, 2008) won the 2008 Book of the Year Award from the southeast chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians.

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Whither Wall Street: Alex Washburn

Alex Washburn discusses his role in the project as a city planner.

Whither Wall Street: Kent Swig

Kent Swig discusses his role as developer.

Whither Wall Street: Rob Rogers

Rob Rogers discusses his role as architect and streetscape designer.

Whither Wall Street: Liz Berger

Liz Berger of the Downtown Alliance discusses her role in the project.

Whither Wall Street: Carol Willis, Introduction

Carol Willis introduces the evening's speakers.

Burj Dubai Model

World's Tallest Tower: Burj Dubai by SOM, model at The Skyscraper Museum
Wind Tunnel Balsa Model: 1:500 scale

On the rise from the desert sands of Dubai, one of the seven United Arab Emirates along the southern shore of the Persian Gulf, is the world’s tallest building: Burj Dubai. Released in January, the spire that stretches above its 160 stories of apartments and office suites will climb to 2,683 feet -more than twice the height of the Empire State Building.

The ambition to erect the world’s tallest tower is as old as the ages, and like the pyramids or gothic cathedrals, Burj Dubai is an architectural and engineering marvel typical of its times. The burj -the word simply means tower in Arabic- represents the collective effort of ninety architects and engineers in the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and a team of consulting companies. An army of 3,000-6,800 construction workers labor daily on the site—or work night hours when seasonal temperatures of 100-120 degrees become too extreme.… Read the rest


APRIL 2010 - JANUARY 2011. The Rise of Wall Street charts the architectural evolution of one of the world's most famous locales. "Wall Street" is a broad metaphor for the American center for global finance and a real place with an inordinately rich history layered into every lot of its nearly half-mile length, stretching from Trinity Church on Broadway to the East River.

Jeffrey Cohen: Wall Street in the mid-19th century

JUNE 8, 2010

JEFFREY COHEN: Views of a Lost Landscape of Business:

Wall Street in the Mid-19th Century

As seen in the rare 19th-century print genre, urban panoramas showed the transformation of Wall Street precisely and minutely recorded. Today they offer us the opportunity for time travel into the textures of the once-new city. Architectural historian Jeff Cohen of Bryn Mawr College led a virtual walk down these early corridors of commerce.

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JUNE 2009 - APRIL 2010
Shanghai today is a vast metropolis of 18 million residents—the largest city in the world's most populous nation. In just three decades, its population has nearly doubled, and the city has been physically transformed by the twin emblems of modernity—high-rises and highways. Formerly a horizontal expanse of dense and sprawling lilong neighborhoods, Shanghai has grown vertically. Nearly 400 high-rises of twenty stories or more were built in the historic core, Puxi, since 1990, and colossal elevated roads fly over old neighborhoods. In the new business district of Pudong on the east side of the river, a master plan dictates taller towers rising from open green space, culminating in a pair—soon to be a trio—of the world's ten tallest skyscrapers. This is the third exhibition in the FUTURE CITY 20|21 cycle.

Vertical Density: Waterfront: Getting There, Enjoying It: Panel Discussion

The panelists sit down for a fish-bowl discussion on the possibilities of waterfront activation in the face of international containerized trade and the competing use of vehicles.

Vertical Density: Waterfront: Getting There, Enjoying It: Paul Zimmerman

Water, road, land, and space. Paul Zimmerman breaks it down by zones of activation.

Vertical Density: Waterfront: Getting There, Enjoying It: Peter Cookson Smith

Peter Cookson Smith speaks to the importance of the waterfront in Hong Kong.

Vertical Density: Waterfront: Getting There, Enjoying It: Charles Maikish

Charles Maikish discusses the Port Authority's place in the evolution of Manhattan's shared waterways, bridges, and tunnels.

Vertical Density: Waterfront: Getting There, Enjoying It: James Cavanaugh

James Cavanaugh presents Battery Park City and the evolution of Manhattan's south-eastern shoreline.

Vertical Density: Waterfront: Getting There, Enjoying It: Carol Willis

Carol Willis the panelists in the second session on the theme of the waterfront.

Video Link

Read more or view it on-lineRead the rest