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Condé Nast Building, New York: “LEEDing” Green Design

Green design, also know as sustainable design, is an advancing practice in the industry, thanks in part to the developers of the Condé Nast Building at Four Times Square in Manhattan, one of the earliest skyscrapers to be built under the principles of green design in the United States.  Prior to this building’s completion in 1999, developers, architects and contractors had been learning about green design, but were hesitant to commit any large projects to the practice.

Green or sustainable design promotes creating buildings which leave the smallest environmental impact from their construction, during their use, and even following their demolition.  The concept includes using non-toxic materials which have been produced with the smallest environmental cost, building for durability which reduces the energy and resources needed for replacement and repairs, building for energy efficiency so that less is needed during the lifetime of the buildings, and even building with materials which may be recycled where possible. 

The Condé Nast Building, also known as Four Times Square or 4 Times Square, has many design elements which make it “green”.  The building generates much of the electricity it uses through hydrogen fuel cells and solar panels.  With extra insulation in the walls and roof, fuel-efficient absorption chillers, and a superior air-delivery system the building maintains a high indoor air quality with minimal energy expense.  In 2001, FXFOWLE Architects won a National Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for the building.

A November 2004 feature article in Architectural Record credits the building of this project with a large role in the promotion of green design in New York City.  According to the article’s author Deborah Snoonian:

Within a year’s time from 1999 to 2000, Four Times Square opened, Battery Park City’s environmental guidelines for residential construction were passed, and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program was established. “Those three events changed everything,” says one developer who wished to remain anonymous. “Before that, we said, ‘Why bother?’ No one understood green design or what its advantages were. But after Four Times Square, everyone thought, ‘We can do that too.’ And LEED gave us a blueprint for understanding how to get there.”

An interesting bit of information is that the 358-foot-tall antenna at the top of the structure was added in 2003 to become the city’s main television and radio transmission tower following the fall of the World Trade Center in 2001.  The building’s biggest success, however, remains as a shining example of green design and the role it played in changing the industry’s future.

Construction Citizen would like to offer our thanks to nyc-architecture.com for these beautiful images of this amazing building.


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