Durst Organization hopes New York broadcasters will lease transmitter
space at One World Trade Center. The building’s first office
tenants are scheduled to take possession of their space this winter.
by John Casey and Paul McLane
The author is editor in chief of Radio World.
fall, Radio World took a peek at the rooftop of the tallest building
in the Western Hemisphere.
World Trade Center, now soaring above lower Manhattan, is nearing
completion. Condé Nast, its first office tenant, will take
possession of its space this winter.
Durst Organization co-owns the venture with the Port Authority of New
York and New Jersey; Durst manages and leases the building. The
company would like the rooftop to become a preferred transmission
platform for radio and TV stations in New York, competing for RF
tenants with the Empire State Building and complementing Durst’s
own facility at 4 Times Square.
height of the new building — 1,776 feet at the top of the spire —
and its downtown location away from other very tall buildings are
selling points to a potential broadcast tenant. Indeed, the location
is consistent with FCC license locations for stations that had
facilities at the original World Trade Center North Tower.
is wooing stations in the hopes of securing enough multi-year
transmitter leases to justify installing master FM and TV antennas.
Lyons, assistant vice president and director of broadcasting for the
Durst Organization, took me up for a look at where the transmitters
and antennas would go. Radio World Publisher John Casey accompanied
started with a walk from lower Broadway past the 9/11 memorial,
visible through a chain-link fence, and past construction detritus.
Then we stood gazing up at 3.1 million square feet of glass and the
unique architecture of David Childs.
admired the 104-floor building’s vertical vanishing point, its
triangular lines and unique “finned” lower windows that open for
HVAC ventilation. The building has a number of post-9/11 safety
features including an integral blast wall around its lowest levels, a
fire-resistant concrete core and a vehicle screening center where
incoming trucks will await security checks.
we burrowed in via an unfinished doorway and navigated our way
through service hallways lit with bare bulbs and cluttered with
pallets of sheet rock and other building materials. Even Lyons needed
to consult the hand-scrawled directions on the walls because the
layout changes during construction.
rode an inside freight elevator up 102 stories and walked through an
unfinished, three-story area that eventually will be the public
observation deck. We paused to step onto the top of construction
elevator scaffolding — outside of the building’s exterior walls —
and took in the breathtaking scene through the fencing. The view is
of course remarkable; looking down on New York has always inspired
me. It is also an emotional experience, given the history of this
view down onto the roof well. The base of the steel spire is at
right. Master TV and FM antennas would be mounted on the spire;
smaller systems like STLs, ENG, RPU and cameras will go on one of the
three communication rings visible near the top center.
up to the roof. Here one does not see directly out over the city at
first, because you emerge into something of a well. Your attention is
drawn instead to the huge steel spire rising immediately in front of
mast, installed last spring, weighs 785 tons and consists of 18
sections of steel supported by four special sets of Phillystran guy
assemblies. It seems remarkably large and solid this close up.
said the building can support RF for all of the 30 or so FM and TV
stations in the market. He envisions three master antennas mounted on
the spire: FM, VHF and UHF. The roof is fringed by three
communication rings that can support smaller antennas for microwave,
ENG/RPU and satellite, as well as cameras.
would be installed below, on a kind of mezzanine between the 89th and
90th floors called “89 Broadcast Level,” which would provide
17,000 to 20,000 square feet of space.
years back I was also privileged to visit the broadcast facility at
the Empire State Building. Empire currently is home to most of New
York City’s FM transmitters — 19, according to a 2012 IPO
document — and serves as home to nearly all of its digital
television transmitters. Durst’s 4 Times Square facility supports
14 FM transmitters, most of which are backups, and five TV.
WTC brings new competition for that lease business, and it involves
no small amount of money. Lyons
did not discuss financial specifics; but the broadcast center would
generate approximately $10 million a year in revenue, according to a
2012 Port Authority press release, and cost more than $7 million in
upfront capital. Those costs would be borne by The Durst
view up the 408-foot steel spire, which brings the building height to
its iconic 1,776 feet.
closeup of one of the four spire guy sets. Phillystran supplied eight
aramid fiber high-performance tower guy assemblies, each
approximately 100 feet long and 6 inches in diameter, to support the
mast. These custom assemblies are the largest Phillystran tower guys
ever assembled and have a rated break strength over 1.7 million
and other company officials have been making their pitch to local
broadcasters, describing the broadcast center’s features: 2
Megawatts of backup power; condensed and chilled water for equipment
cooling and heat exchange; loading docks with hydraulic lift gates;
24/7 building engineers on duty; and fiber and copper communication
lines at the top of the building.
present, no agreements have been announced. Lyons said the TV
spectrum “repack” has injected some uncertainty, giving stations
pause before they invest in RF facility changes. I also thought aloud
that perhaps stations have less motivation to invest in new
over-the-air facilities these days, given that so much media
consumption is done via non-broadcast channels; Lyons said time will
me at left with Durst’s John Lyons atop the temporary construction
elevator scaffolding that is attached to the building’s exterior.
We’re at about 1,300 feet; my knees were wobbly. Radio World
Publisher John Casey snapped the pic. For scale, note the Brooklyn
Bridge in the background, behind Lyons’ elbow.
Durst Organization hopes to bring broadcasters back to Lower
Manhattan. The site looks down onto the Statue of Liberty and Ellis
agreed that over-the-air remains a multibillion-dollar business; that
New York remains a lucrative market for broadcasters; and that the
reported “cord cutting” phenomenon means more people these days
may actually be watching OTA television. He sounded optimistic that
Durst can attract enough stations to 89 Broadcast Level to proceed.
785-ton spire stands ready for broadcast antennas.
climbing another level and peering down on New York Harbor, we rode
down. On the way out, we peeked at the 55-foot-high lobby; and we saw
an underground gallery that connects to the nearby World Trade Center
Transportation Hub, designed by Santiago Calatrava and featuring its
own distinctive spiny architecture. I marveled at the scope of these
projects, the incredible detail and necessary coordination of
World is not in the business of making RF site endorsements — only
a broadcaster knows where to best put its transmitter — but
certainly One World Trade Center will give potential tenants
something to ponder. And the structure itself is an impressive,
important one — not only for lower New York but for the country.
can view many videos and photos of the building, including views from
various floor levels, at onewtc.com.
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