Malkin tees off — again

Empire State Building owner: Glass 'passé,' green roofs a 'bunch of crap'

Anthony Malkin
Anthony Malkin

Empire State Building owner Anthony Malkin is not one to shy away from controversy. In August he called Vornado Realty Trust’s plan to develop a 1,200-foot-tall tower two blocks from his iconic edifice an “assault on New York City.”

Now he’s at it again, but this time with an unlikely target: glass curtain walls, the most popular facade for modern construction.

Last month, he questioned the energy efficiency of new glass towers of the sort that often trumpet their “green” status. While he didn’t name any buildings, a slew of new high-profile skyscrapers fit the bill, such as the Durst Organization’s 1 Bryant Park, SJP Properties’ 11 Times Square and Goldman Sachs’ new headquarters at 200 West Street.

Speaking at a conference sponsored by the Greater New York Construction User Council, Malkin twice said glass curtain walls were outdated as he touted the energy-efficiency improvements he has made at the Empire State Building. “You know it’s not where it is at, people. Glass is passé,” he said.

At the Empire State Building, he said, 96 percent of the windows were retrofitted and improved — on-site. And he noted that masonry is more efficient than glass.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Turns out he may be on to something.

Earlier this year, a study from the engineering and consulting firm Arup found that as the amount of glass on a building’s surface that lets in light is increased from 40 to 80 percent in a hypothetical 100,000-square-foot building, it takes 15 percent more energy to cool the building. “It’s going to increase the electric demand,” said Richard Leigh of the Urban Green Council, a sustainable development nonprofit. But, he said, the impact is reduced as the building gets larger.

Malkin put it this way: “They let in too much light anyway, which is intolerable.” He also lashed out at green roofs, a major element of Mayor Bloomberg’s environmental initiative.

“A green roof is a bunch of crap,” he said. “If I want to go platinum LEED, I need to spend $4.5 million on plantings on my roof setbacks. That has got to be the stupidest idea I have ever heard.”

And he sounded off on gas-guzzlers, equating them to today’s environmentally outdated buildings, saying that tearing them down would be an even worse waste of resources.

“If you buy a Hummer … and then you realize you look like a giant douchebag, and you’ve only driven that thing for 100 miles, to trash that car is a complete waste of resources, even though it is low mileage.”