Architecture, CTBUH, Demolition, Skyscrapers, SOM, Tall towers

SOM’s 270 Park Avenue tower to become the tallest tower ever demolished

Architecture firm SOM-designed modernist 270 Park Avenue tower in New York City is set for demolition, which will make it the tallest tower to ever be demolished (standing over 200m tall), and is set to be replaced by a new tower that is 150m taller.

According to a research study conducted by The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) called ‘Tall Buildings in Numbers’, that the  270 Park Avenue will become the tallest tower facing demolition, as well as being the first building over 200m in height to be peacefully razed.

Photography by Marshall Gerometta.

The report examines the 100 tallest buildings in history that have been dismantled and the reasons behind it.

According to the report, currently, the allest building ever conventionally demolished is the Singer Building in New York City, which stood at 187 meters and 41 stories tall until 1968, when it was torn down to make way for One Liberty Plaza.

The study also confirms that the majority of the world’s 100 tallest demolished buildings were torn down to make way for new high-rises, explaining that with land constraints in dense cities, the question of greater financial return often gets raised, which then heavily affects the decision to demolish a skyscraper.

“In many cases, it does make sense to tear down and replace a high-rise, especially if it’s outlived its practical usage,” said CTBUH executive director, Antony Wood.

Tallest 10 demolished buildings courtesy of CTBUH.

“However, there are currently more than 1,300 buildings of over 200 meters in height around the globe, and counting. Considering the tallest demolished building to date was only 187 meters tall, there’s really no precedent for tearing down 200-meter-plus towers. We should perhaps thus be thinking of tall buildings as perpetual entities with life cycles potentially exceeding 100 or 200 years, while designing them in such a way that they can be creatively adapted for potential future uses.”

According to the study, the average lifespan of the 100 tallest demolished buildings is only 41 years. It adds that while economic considerations for demolition featured prominently in the study, not all of the tallest demolished buildings were razed to make way for new towers.

For example, the 116-meter Ocean Tower on South Padre Island in the US was torn down one year into its construction after cracks were discovered in its concrete and the building began to sink.

Other high-rises, such as the 104-meter Edificio Windsor in Madrid, had to demolished after sustaining heavy fire damage.

In terms of geographic distribution, North American cities account for 53 percent of the world’s 100 tallest demolished buildings. More than a quarter of the 100 tallest demolished buildings were built between 1890 and 1920, while high-rises built in the 1970s accounted for 24 percent.