A Tour of Jolly Green Monster One Bryant Park as It (Officially) Opens

  • The recently completed Bank of America tower (a.k.a. One Bryant Park) will have its official grand opening gala Thursday night—complete with scheduled appearances by Mayor Bloomberg and tenant Al Gore—with the owners throwing the celebration now that some final touch-up work is finally completed and the scaffolding has been taken down. (The building opened to tenants in 2008.)

    On account of the “opening,” we took a tour of the tower on Wednesday.

  • The recently completed Bank of America tower (a.k.a. One Bryant Park) will have its official grand opening gala Thursday night—complete with scheduled appearances by Mayor Bloomberg and tenant Al Gore—with the owners throwing the celebration now that some final touch-up work is finally completed and the scaffolding has been taken down. (The building opened to tenants in 2008.)

    On account of the "opening," we took a tour of the tower on Wednesday, guided by developer Douglas Durst and architect Bob Fox of Cook + Fox, who showed off the building's many sustainable features and other innovative designs.

    A few things to note about the building itself: It has been decades in the making for the Durst family, which, according to Mr. Durst, first bought land on the site in 1967. The family gradually acquired more and more land on the block, and, in 1996, started work on the 4 Times Square tower on the western part of it. In 2003, using the state to help threaten eminent domain, Mr. Durst acquired land from a final set of three holdouts, clearing the way for the tower. He formed a 50/50 joint venture with Bank of America, which also occupies 1.6 million square feet of the 2.2 million–square–foot tower. (He also, controversially, received the generous subsidy of triple tax-exempt Liberty Bonds to finance the tower. The bonds were intended to help Lower Manhattan recover after 9/11, and the Bryant Park tower is quite a long way from downtown.)

    The building is the largest office tower to be built in the city in the last cycle, and commanded some of the highest office rents in the nation—asking rents were more than $150 a foot—for the final few floors.

    It also is highly sustainable, and just received word that it indeed achieved the top LEED Platinum rating. The exterior, for instance, captures rainwater that hits the glass, filtering it and putting it into the building's water system. The glass tower is currently the city's second-tallest counting its spire, which rises to 1,200 feet. —Eliot Brown

    (Photos by Brian Letwin)

     

  • Here's Mr. Durst, the taciturn liberal landlord whose family owns and built many a tower in midtown. At one point, his father, Seymour Durst, had a giant plan to remake Times Square into something of a new Rockefeller Center.

     

    Brian Letwin

  • Bob Fox, left, has worked for Mr. Durst before. His prior firm, Fox and Fowle (partner Bruce Fowle is now with FXFowle), designed the neighboring 4 Times Square. On the right is Jordan Barowitz, Mr. Durst's government and public relations aide and a former city official.

     

    Brian Letwin

  • Here's a view of the lobby, which is, notably, a corner entrance, as the owners opted against packing the busy corner with retail. 

     

    Brian Letwin

  • The lobby is a spacious one, with ceilings made of bamboo, Mr. Fox told us. The interiror walls on this side of the lobby are made of polished Jerusalem Stone (limestone), which, when one looks close, is filled with fossils. The lobby also has a pleasant little "urban garden" room off the northeast corner, a privately owned public space. 

     

    Brian Letwin

  • Here's the north end of the lobby, which, Mr. Fox tells us, has walls coated with leather (a renewable resource). 

     

    Brian Letwin

  • Mr. Durst called this the engine room, and the machines on the right are giant water chillers. We apparently are about 80 feet down, which is extremely deep for a New York tower. 

     

    Brian Letwin

  • Here's another sustainability feature. At night, when power is in greater supply, the building creates ice in these gigantic tubs. Then during the day, when power is more expensive, the ice is melted to create chilled water—rather than using energy to directly chill the water. The result is the use of slightly more electricity overall, but at more optimal times. 

     

    Brian Letwin

  • Here's a look from Mr. Durst's office on the 49th floor. On the left is a double pane of glass that faces south—an energy-saving measure. 

     

    Brian Letwin

  • Here's the rest of the office, and we're playing with an air-conditioning vent (not pictured) on the floor. The vents are dotted throughout the floors and are individually adjustable.

     

    Brian Letwin