Macklowe: Tower Fifth would be New York’s only “21st-century building”

He called planned 96-story office project another chance to "change the skyline"

A rendering of Tower Fifth with Harry Macklowe (Credit: New York Times and Getty Images)
A rendering of Tower Fifth with Harry Macklowe (Credit: New York Times and Getty Images)

Recently-divorced octogenarian Harry Macklowe is chasing another chance to forever alter the Manhattan skyline.

Plans for his Midtown office tower show an ambitious project that aims to be the second-tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. The supertall, named Tower Fifth, would stand at 1,551 feet tall.

The project, poised to be a coda to Macklowe’s career, would be 216 feet shy of One World Trade Center’s roofline (and 1 foot taller than Gary Barnett’s forthcoming Central Park Tower). But getting it to the finish line won’t be an easy feat.

The tower will face a length public review process. The developer is asking for special permits, zoning changes and approvals to build a project that is 66 percent bigger than allowed under current zoning, according to the New York Times. It could also encroach on five landmark buildings — the Look Building, two townhouses, Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral — so it will need approval by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

It’s an ambitious project, even by Macklowe’s standards: It would cost billions of dollars and include a pricey, energy-efficient face. The project would also have tenant amenities — a lap, yoga room and multilevel running track — and the city’s tallest observatory. Visitors to the observatory would be able to descend down a transparent, 60-foot corkscrew slide. The building, midblock between East 51st and East 52nd Streets, would have a tapered midsection that will prop up the height of the floors below.

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If approved, Tower Fifth would surpass the height of Macklowe’s other prominent supertall, 432 Park Avenue. But the magnitude of the project has drawn critics — and the developer’s team has already held preliminary meetings with the city’s Planning Department, the LPC and the local community board. Moed de Armas & Shannon Architects and Gensler are the enlisted architects.

Dan Garodnick, a former city council member who played a key role in the city’s rezoning of East Midtown for taller towers, was taken aback by Macklowe’s plan.

“This project goes way beyond what is allowed to be built,” he told the Times. “And it needs to be carefully scrutinized in a detailed public review.”

In Macklowe’s view, the city’s landscape has simply changed.

“Tall buildings are a reality,” he told the Times. “The days of restrictions on buildings are really over. This is a building that’s never been built before, a 21st-century building.” [NYT] — Meenal Vamburkar