Main | Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Do Not Rock The Citicorp Building

I detoured a little bit this morning to take these shots of the Citicorp Tower in Midtown East. Finished in 1978, the 59-story (formerly Citibank, now Citicorp) tower is mostly notable for its supporting columns, which are not at the corners of the structure, but in the middle of each side. It was built that way to accomodate tiny St. Peter's Lutheran Church, which remains nestled on a corner of the property.

Only after the tower was completed did an architecture student calculate that the tower was not properly supported by its unusual column placings, and that hurricane force winds might actually topple the structure. While engineers puzzled how to stabilize the building, the Office Of Emergency Management drafted a plan to evacuate the entire neighborhood should a hurricane approach Manhattan. Eventually a 400-ton "tuned mass dampener", was installed in the building's iconic wedge top, a place meant be used for premium apartments. The dampener slides back and forth on the building's top, countering the effect of wind and keeping the building from swaying too much. The mass dampener apparently works perfectly and I know that the technology has been used in other very tall buildings, still, I don't think I'd enjoy being officed in the Citicorp Building.

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