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An Entrance Fit for Columbus


London may have Piccadilly Circus, but New York City has Columbus Circle, one of the City’s most notable landmarks aptly named for the famed explorer.  This major intersection is the grand gateway to Central Park. Overlooking this traffic hub like a paternal guardian is the Time Warner Center, which is now ranked in the top 150 places to see while visiting New York City.  Time Warner is a twin-tower building developed by AREA Property Partners (formerly known as Apollo Real Estate Advisors) and The Related Companies in New York City. Its design, by David Childs and Mustafa Kemal Abadan of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), consists of two 750-foot (229 m) twin towers bridged by a multi-story atrium podium containing upscale retail shops.



Construction began in November 2000, following the demolition of the New York Coliseum, and a topping-out ceremony was held in February, 2003. The property had the highest-listed market value in New York City, $1.1 billion, in 2006. Originally constructed as the AOL Time Warner Center, the building encircles the western side of Columbus Circle and straddles the border between Midtown and the Upper West Side. The total floor area of 2.8 million square feet (260,000 m2) is divided between offices (notably the offices of Time Warner Inc. and a research and development Center for VMware), residential condominiums, and the Mandarin Oriental, New York hotel. The Shops at Columbus Circle is an upscale shopping mall located in a curving arcade at the base of the building, with a large Whole Foods Market grocery store in the basement.


Time Warner Center, one of New York’s most notable mixed-use developments, exemplifies the concept of a “city within a building.” Its twin glass-clad towers, joined at podium level, house an eclectic mix of uses, including retail, CNN television studios, performance venues for Jazz at Lincoln Center, offices, luxury hotel rooms, condominiums, parking, and direct subway access.




The complex’s unique form responds directly to its prominent urban context. The void between the soaring towers helped visually restore the 59th Street corridor, blocked since the 1950s, while the podium’s curving façade traces a traffic circle at Central Park’s southwest corner.


When SOM looked for expertise in creating an unforgettable visual impact, they turned to W&W Glass, LLC.  The ground-level arcade of shops creates a transparent public space — an effect heightened by patterns in the marble floor that visually extend the sidewalk and street grid into the building through its structural glass facade.



A multistory cable-net atrium intersects the Center’s two 55-story towers. Spanning 98-feet (30 meters) across and 164-feet (50 meters) tall, this Pilkington Planar™ cable tension system installed by W&W Glass was the largest in North America at the time of its completion. The face glass is Pilkington Optiwhite, low-iron SentryGlas® interlayer laminated glass that has supporting hardware of horizontal and vertical steel tension cables, custom stainless steel patch fittings, and a custom stainless steel plate beam portal frame with canopy outriggers. At the head of the wall there is a massive, 10-foot tall steel truss that was installed across the entire opening (lifted to the top in one piece) to support the weight of the suspended glass wall. There is also a second interior cable-net wall spanning over 60-feet tall, at an inverted slope, creating the “jazz wall” just behind the main entrance wall. This creates a stunning effect when watching a live performance with the picturesque backdrop of Central Park and the bustling circle outside.



The goal of the architects, implemented by W&W Glass, was to highlight the urban beauty of steel and glass of this mixed use facility.  The grandeur of the glass entrance complements the expansive glass-clad facades of floor-to-ceiling windows. The lower part of the tower is occupied with Time Warner offices and studios, and the upper part with exquisite hotel rooms and private residences which have been rumored to have some well-known owners like Ricky Martin, Tom Brady, and Kelly Rippa. While the total tower complex is very compelling, it all begins with the glass and steel entrance.


Project Facts

Location: New York, New York

Project Completion: 2004

Site Area: 149,350 s.f.

Project Area: 2,800,000 s.f.

Number of Stories: 53

Building Height: 750 ft

Market: Commercial + Office, Cultural, Hospitality, Mixed Use, Residential

Service: Architecture, Tall Buildings



2005 Award for Excellence: The Americas Urban Land Institute

2004 Masterwork Award Municipal Art Society of New York

2003 Project of the Year New York Construction


*SentryGlas® is a registered trademark of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company or its affiliates for its brand of interlayers. It is exclusively licensed by Kuraray and its sub-licensees.


W&W Glass LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar™ structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.

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