Carnegie Hall Tower

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New York, New York, USA
530,000 square feet / 49,000 square meters
1991

Carnegie Hall Tower, one of the most slender buildings ever constructed, is a colorful and memorable landmark on the Manhattan skyline. A commercial venture using Carnegie Hall’s air rights for development, the project also added 25,000 square feet (2,322 square meters) of support space for backstage improvements of the music hall. The 60-story tower, designed as a harmonious addition to the music hall, extends the composition of the Renaissance Revival landmark and reinterprets its massing, coloration and system of ornamentation. The original building retained its landmark status following construction of the tower.

The tower, formed of two interlocking slabs of different sizes, recalls the shape of the building’s 13-story additions. The six-story base relates to and extends the major cornice line of the music hall. The building is set back above this level to allow the Carnegie Hall campanile, with its large overhanging cornice, to stand free. Like the music hall, the facades of the tower are organized into three parts. These elements are bound together by wide colored bands at six-story intervals, similar to those of the music hall cornice. The tower top is a dark frieze beneath an open metalwork cornice, analogous to the attic story of the music hall.

Exterior cladding is primarily brick in a color selected to complement the music hall. Three complementary colors are used to create the pattern in the central fields of the facade. Window sills, lintels and accents are pre-cast concrete, colored to reinforce the terra cotta decoration of the music hall. The frieze at the top of the tower is dark green glazed brick.

Carnegie Hall Tower respects and strengthens its surroundings. As a backdrop, the tower improves the contextual relationship between the music hall and surrounding buildings. The tower is set back to enable light to reach the street. The building’s lobby is a pedestrian pass-through between 56th and 57th streets.

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission required successful integration of the new building with the music hall and surrounding urban fabric. The design approval process involved considerable public scrutiny and the consensus of public, private and nonprofit organizations, including the City Plan Commission, the Community Planning Board, the Midtown Special District and the Carnegie Hall Corporation.