Hearst Tower revives a dream from the 1920s, when publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst envisaged Columbus Circle as a new media quarter in Manhattan. Hearst commissioned a six-storey Art Deco block on Eighth Avenue, anticipating that it would eventually form the base for a tower, though no such scheme was ever advanced. Echoing an approach developed in the Reichstag and the Great Court at the British Museum, the challenge in designing such a tower at seventy years remove was to establish a creative dialogue between old and new.

The new tower rises above the old building to a height of forty-four-storeys, linked on the outside by a skirt of glazing that encourages an impression of the tower floating weightlessly above the base. At the base of the tower, the main spatial event is a lobby that occupies the entire floor plate of the old building and rises up through six floors. Like a bustling town square, this dramatic space provides access to all parts of the building. It incorporates the main elevator lobby, the Hearst staff cafeteria and auditorium, and mezzanine levels for meetings and special functions. Structurally, the tower has a triangulated 'diagrid' form - a highly efficient solution that uses 20 per cent less steel than a conventionally framed structure. With the corners cut back between the diagonals, it creates a distinctive facetted silhouette on the Manhattan skyline.

The building is also significant in environmental terms. It was built using 85 per cent recycled steel, its heating and air-conditioning equipment utilises outside air for cooling and ventilation for nine months of the year, and it consumes 25 per cent less energy than an equivalent office building that complies minimally with the respective state and city codes. As a result, it was the first office building in Manhattan to achieve a gold rating under the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) programme. As a company, Hearst places a high value on the quality of the working environment - something it believes will become increasingly important to its staff in the future - and it is hoped that Hearst's experience may herald the construction of more environmentally sensitive buildings in the city.

Sketches + Drawings




Site + Climate

The building envelope was designed to limit glare from low angle sun during the early morning and evenings.

Form + Massing

The massing was predetermined by the footprint of the existing Hearst building. The design of the tower, sought to protect the existing podium, whilst extending the building with a distinctive new tower.

Passive Design

To minimise solar gain, the building envelope contains high performance low emission glass, with integral roller blinds which can be used to reduce glare. The building is naturally overshadowed by the surrounding buildings so large skylights were used at the podium level to bring daylight into the atrium space.

Environmental Systems

The atrium contains a radiant floor, a tempered water wall and temperature controlled walls. In the office spaces, an economiser cycle on the AHUs provide fresh air ventilation for 75% of year.

Mobility + Connectivity

The design included an upgrade to the local subway station, and reinstated an entrance within the building, giving employees direct access to public transport.

Materials + Waste

The diagrid structure uses 20 per cent less steel than a conventionally framed structure, and it was built using 85 per cent recycled steel. Locally sourced materials are used throughout.


Harvested rainwater from the roof is fed into a central tank and used for irrigation and to feed the water feature. This, alongside water efficient fixtures and fittings, has led to a 30% reduction in water usage compared to a typical building.

Land + Ecology

The design ensured that all existing trees on site were protected, and to ensure their long term vitality, they are now irrigated through the rainwater harvesting system.

Culture + Heritage

The design preserved the façade of the existing structure and establishes a creative dialogue between the old and new. The forty-two-storey tower rises above the old building and has resulted in an award winning addition to the New York Sky Line.


At the base of the tower, there is a large atrium space for the building users. A water feature helps enhance the microclimate by thermally tempering the space, providing acoustic dampening and humidity control. Daylight floods the space through high level sky lights, helping to create a healthy, vibrant space.


Local construction firms were chosen where possible, to enhance the local economy. In operation, the building has helped to regenerate the surrounding area.

Performance in Use

First LEED Gold commercial office building in New York. Since completion it has gone on to achieve LEED Platinum for its operation and maintenance.


Foster + Partners delivered our headquarter building on time and on budget. The success of the building is the result of a close and inspiring collaboration between the Hearst Corporation and Foster + Partners.”Brian G. Schwagerl

Vice President - Real Estate & Facilities Planning

Norman has a feel for what it is your business does. The dialogue is often not about architecture

but how does your business function, and how do people live in the space”Frank A Bennack Jnr, (former) Hearst Chief Executive

In an uncertain age the Hearst Tower is deeply comforting: a building with confidence in its own values.”Nicolai Ouroussoff

NY Times 09/06/06

When the Hearst people chose Foster

they knew they were getting an international star. Still, they might not have suspected he would give them the best building to appear in New York City in decades”Richard Lacayo, Time 15/05/06

Facts + Figures

  • Appointment: 2000
  • Completion: 2006
  • Area: 79,500m²
  • Height: 182m
  • Capacity: 2200
  • Client: Hearst
  • Collaborating Architect: Adamson Associates
  • Structural Engineer: The Cantor Seinuk Group
  • Quantity Surveyor: Turner Construction
  • M+E Engineer: Flack & Kurtz
  • Lighting Engineer: George Sexton and Associates
  • Additional Consultants: Higgins and Quasbarthm, VDA, Cerami, Ira Beer Assocates, Steven Winter Asssociates, Tishman Speyer Properties, Turner Construction


  • International Highrise Award
  • Chicago Athenaeum International Architecture Award
  • Green Building Competition for New York City, Honourable Mention
  • ‘XVI Concorse Internazionale Sistema d’Autore Metra 2008’
  • Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) Best Sustainable Building Award
  • BCI Awards – International Award,
  • Business Week/Architectural Record Citation for Excellence
  • RIBA International Award
  • Archi Tech AV Awards – Best Project over $1,000,000,
  • The Greater New York Construction User Council Outstanding Green Project Award
  • New York City MASterwork Awards – Best New Building,
  • AIA New York Design Honor Award in the Architecture category
  • Emporis ‘Best New Skyscraper of the Year for Design and Functionality’
  • Build New York Awards – Winner New Project,
  • Global Green USA Green Building Design Award
  • Wallpaper 2004 Design Awards – Winner Best Building Sites,

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