Friday, 7 March 2014

Super SkyScrapers & 8,400 Windows

PBS's documentary show Super Skycrapers devoted an entire 55 minutes to nearly-complete One57, rising to over one thousand feet above Central Park, which the narrator calls the "Billionaire's Building."
How One57 Cleans 8,400 Windows, Got Its Marble, And More: PBS's documentary show Super Skycrapers devoted an entire 55 minutes to nearly-complete One57, which the narrator calls the "Billionaire's Building" (over and over again). There are a lot of dramatic pans of the undeniably stunning views from way up there, but mostly the video dives into the intricacies of the construction process. (Like a meta, moving construction watch.)

Here's what you can learn: how a giant window washing apparatus got hoisted to the top of the 1,000-foot tower last spring; how an Extell exec went to Carrara, Italy, to select slabs for the bathroom in person; how oversized lobby columns had to be heaved through a window and installed; how a small British woodworking workshop has churned out hundreds of bespoke kitchen cabinets; and how everyone, from Gary Barnett to brokers to construction workers, is pretty much in awe of the massive, vaunted superscraper. Warning, there are lots of lines like this—"It's going to be the most luxurious skyscraper ever built!"—but there's a lot to learn about the icon, too, and those who've gotten it to this height.

1) After over four years of construction, footage taken on April 2, 2013, takes viewers inside the construction site and the $90 million penthouse, when it's just bones and windows and concrete. That same day, the roof gets put on.

One57, formerly known as Carnegie 57, is a 75-story (marketed as 90-story) skyscraper currently under construction at 157 West 57th Street in the Midtown neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. Upon completion in 2014, it will stand at 306 meters (1004 feet) tall, making it the tallest residential building in the city, the building will have 92 condominium units on top of a new Park Hyatt Hotel with 210 rooms.
2) Let's talk windows. There are 8,400 total in the building, so they need to get cleaned somehow. So a company custom-made a 30-foot-long, 20-ton machine that'll have a "telescopic" retractable crane with a basket on its end that will house the cleaners and move up and down the building—but first it needs to be installed on the roof. As he's driving the equipment into Midtown, the project's overseer, who sports a thick New York accent, comments: "$50 million for an apartment and my windows are dirty? I'd definitely be upset."

Ten minutes into the first chapter, we learn that this is, according to the narration, "the Rolls Royce of window washers." We follow its ascent to the top, and hear the crane operator talk about the challenges of maneuvering a heavy object in 20- to 25-mph winds with millions of dollars worth of glass siding at risk. Says the project manager: "Every night, it's tough sleeping just with the thoughts of this piece going up and making everything safe for everybody." Aww. Tense! Cue the dramatic music, and a storm that rolls in and complicates things for everyone.

But then! There's a test run a few weeks later to check if it'll work. Everyone's nervous. Buttons are pressed; equipment hulks around. And then the "most sophisticated window-cleaning rig ever constructed" is ready to roll. The foreman's sweet commentary totally makes this part: "Every machine that we put out, somehow I always make my way back, and make sure the loving tender care that I put into it is continuing after I leave. They're basically my little kids!" He proudly says that the machine can be seen from anywhere in the city, and at first, "Nobody has a clue what it's for. This thing looks like a rocket launcher, ready to shoot out a missile!" Nope, just a very advanced cleaning system for 8,400 very expensive windows.

7) And here's the cute way the piece ends. First, there's the foreman who jimmied in those ginormous lobby columns saying: "One day maybe I'll be able to afford to come over here, and have a dinner with my girl, and at least say, you know, 'I was part of this.'" Then the window-washing rig's mastermind, up on the roof with his big telescopic crane baby, looks out at the city and says: "They're paying a hundred million of dollars downstairs and I got a billion-dollar view here, and I don't have to pay for it. God only knows who's going to be living here." Ain't it the truth.

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