SL Green Realty Corp. (SL Green), Manhattan’s largest office landlord, along with partners Hines and National Pension Service of Korea, this month marked the opening of One Vanderbilt Avenue, a skyline-defining tower in the heart of East Midtown.
On September 14, SL Green leadership was joined at a ribbon-cutting ceremony by government and transit officials, labor leaders, building tenants and the development team to celebrate the official opening of New York City’s newest icon.
The building received its official Temporary Certificate of Occupancy on September 11.
Standing 1,401 feet tall, One Vanderbilt boasts a robust tenant roster of top-tier finance, banking, law and real estate firms, and is nearly 70 per cent leased.
Tenants include TD Securities, a leading banking and investment firm that provides a wide range of capital markets products and services and TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, one of the ten largest banks in the U.S.; private equity firms The Carlyle Group, KPS Capital Partners, Oak Hill Advisors, InTandem Capital, SageWind Capital and Sentinel Capital Partners; prestigious law firms Greenberg Traurig and McDermott Will & Emery; global German financial firm DZ Bank; publicly traded real estate investment trust MFA Financial Inc.; and SL Green Realty Corp.
The 1.7 million-square-foot skyscraper offers an unparalleled package of amenities, innovative office design, technology offerings, best-in-class sustainability practices and a prime location at the doorstep of Grand Central Terminal.
“Today we are proud to officially open One Vanderbilt Avenue, adding a new monument to the unrivalled Manhattan skyline, contributing to the revitalisation of East Midtown and proclaiming a bright future for the greatest city in the world,” said
At the ceremony, Marc Holliday, Chairman and CEO of SL Green said that One Vanderbilt is already the best address in Manhattan, headquarters to leading global companies and home to the most incredible space and views in New York City.
“One Vanderbilt is also a testament to what a public-private partnership can achieve to strengthen New York City, and we are thrilled to deliver to New Yorkers an extraordinary array of privately-funded public improvements in and around Grand Central Terminal,” he said.
One Vanderbilt represents a new model for how the private sector and government can work together to deliver crucial public infrastructure benefits, created in partnership with the City of New York and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as part of the historic rezoning of East Midtown.
SL Green recently unveiled a $220 million package of public open space and transit infrastructure improvements that will help ease congestion and overcrowding on subway platforms, improve circulation in and around the terminal and create new, direct pathways to the regional railroads.
The infrastructure improvements include a new 4,000-square-foot public transit hall inside the tower, providing enhanced connections to Metro-North Railroad, the shuttle to Times Square, and the future Long Island Rail Road station as part of the upcoming East Side Access project.
Adjacent to the transit hall is a new 14,000-square-foot pedestrian plaza on Vanderbilt Avenue between East 42nd and 43rd Streets.
SL Green also built two new street-level subway entrances and re-opened the Mobil Passageway that connects Grand Central to a new entrance on the south-east corner of 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue.
Circulation within the Grand Central subway station has also been significantly improved, with a 37 per cent increase in mezzanine circulation space, new staircases between the mezzanine and platform levels of the 4, 5, 6, and 7 subway lines for easier access, including a new ADA elevator, new escalators and elevators, additional turnstiles and gates, and stairs by the shuttle to Times Square. These modifications will ease congestion on the platforms, and result in at least an additional train per hour through the station.
“As we rebuild a fairer, better city, we’ll need thoughtful development projects like One Vanderbilt more than ever,” said Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio at the event.
“Public-private partnerships like these will help New York City come back stronger – and revitalise major business hubs like Midtown East in the process. I’m proud to stand with our partners in the business community today, and I look forward to working with them on other bold and ambitious projects in the future.”
Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) Associates is responsible for One Vanderbilt’s iconic design, which comprises four interlocking and tapering planes that spiral toward the sky.
At the tower’s base, a series of angled cuts on the south side of the block creates a visual procession to Grand Central Terminal revealing the Vanderbilt corner of the Terminal’s magnificent cornice – a view that has been obstructed for nearly a century.
The tower’s terracotta facade, which incorporates the same distinct ceiling tiles found throughout Grand Central Terminal, provides the soaring structure a natural, luminous texture. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) recognised One Vanderbilt and KPF with the prestigious 2018 AIANY Merit Award in Urban Design.
“The One Vanderbilt tower recalls the golden age of New York high rise architecture. As a rectangular plan tapered point tower, its prominent top joins the Empire State and Chrysler buildings on the skyline,” said James von Klemperer, KPF President and Design Principal.
“At the same time, the design gives the high rise a new relevance of social and environmental purpose. The new building connects both spatially and programmatically to Grand Central Terminal. We’re very happy that we’ve been able to design a commercial skyscraper that supports today’s critical agendas of building sustainably and enriching the public realm. Overall, the project has already proven to be a boost for East Midtown, leading the way for a progressive rejuvenation of Manhattan’s historical CBD.”
Innovation in wellness and sustainability
SL Green has invested $17 million in sustainability features at One Vanderbilt, ensuring the tower maintains one of the lowest carbon footprints across similarly scaled buildings in New York City.
The tower was built using steel rebar made of 90 per cent recycled content and features cutting-edge technologies including 1.2-MW cogeneration and 90,000-gallon rainwater collection systems, and regulates insulation for heating and cooling through its high-performance glazing.
The skyscraper is on track to receive several environmental distinctions, including the highest levels of LEED and WELL certifications.
Interestingly, One Vanderbilt will incorporate the “SL Green Forward” initiative, which aims to promote a high degree of safety, cleanliness, and wellness for tenants.
The building will have a single stand-alone application with access control for tenants, visitor management, and elevator call, allowing for tenants and guests to move through a seamless, touch-free experience from turnstiles to elevators.
Built by New Yorkers, for New Yorkers
One Vanderbilt was constructed ahead of schedule and under budget by a fully-union team, under the leadership of Construction Manager AECOM Tishman, that included more than 3,000 workers over nearly four years.
At its peak activity levels, over 1,400 workers were on-site daily as they worked to complete the project. In addition, the project has engaged close to fifty subcontractors.
The iconic tower features more than twenty-six thousand tonnes of US made and fabricated steel and seventy-four thousand cubic yards of concrete.
The commitment to union labor at One Vanderbilt will continue through the operation of the building. At full occupancy, One Vanderbilt operations will consist of almost 150 union employees with 32BJ SEIU, Local 94, and NUSOG being represented amongst the ranks.
“Because of the partnership between SL Green and 32BJ at 1 Vanderbilt, working-class New Yorkers will benefit from new high-quality jobs at a time when they are much needed,” said Kyle Bragg, President of 32BJ SEIU.
“In the midst of a pandemic, this project exemplifies how new development can provide opportunity for building service workers and their families and communities.”
In the first quarter of 2021 world-renowned chef, Daniel Boulud, is expected to open the restaurant at One Vanderbilt, named ‘Le Pavillon.’
Le Pavillon will occupy 11,000 square feet with soaring 60-foot ceiling heights located on the southeast corner of the second floor, facing Grand Central with a striking view of the Chrysler Building.
Chef Daniel Boulud said that he is more excited than ever to have the opportunity to bring Le Pavillon at One Vanderbilt to life.
“We are working tirelessly to create a dining oasis in the heart of Midtown that everyone can enjoy. Our menu will include a focus on seafood and vegetables with a strong local and seasonal influence. Le Pavillon combines architecture and nature while celebrating all the charms of New York City,” he said.
Significantly, all building tenants will have access to an amenities package unrivalled in New York City office buildings, including a 30,000-square-foot tenant-only amenity floor with large format meeting spaces, club-style lounge, curated food offerings and an extraordinary outdoor terrace that faces Grand Central.
Office floors feature floor-to-ceiling slab heights ranging from 14.5 feet to 24 feet, column-free floor plates, stunning 360-degree views through floor-to-ceiling windows and best-in-class infrastructure.
One Vanderbilt will also feature an observatory with the second-highest outdoor deck in New York City.
Twenty years in the making
One Vanderbilt’s journey began in 2001 when SL Green acquired 317 Madison Avenue, the first of the four buildings that previously stood on the site.
Two more properties – 331 Madison Avenue and 48 East 43rd Street – were acquired in 2007, and the final property – 51 East 42nd Street – was acquired in 2011.
Initial plans for One Vanderbilt were announced in 2013 as part of the City’s initial plans to rezone East Midtown, with an updated plan put forward in 2014 as part of the Vanderbilt Corridor Rezoning that included $220 million in public realm improvements in and around Grand Central Terminal.
One Vanderbilt was unanimously approved by the City Council in May 2015, and demolition commenced later that year.
A formal groundbreaking for One Vanderbilt was held in October 2016.
In 2017, a joint venture was formed with Hines and National Pension Service of Korea.
Andrew Mathias, President of SL Green Realty Corp, detailed that this was the most complex challenge the company had ever faced, with numerous regulatory, political, legal and engineering hurdles every step of the way.
“There were many moments when it was difficult, but because of our belief in this city and this project we persevered,” he said.