The 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.
3.1 MILLION SQUARE FEET OF GLASS
The 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.
|A 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
Durst is wooing stations in the hopes
of securing enough multi-year transmitter
leases to justify installing TV and master
John Lyons, assistant vice president and
director of broadcasting for the Durst Organization,
took us up for a look at where the
transmitters and antennas would go. Radio
World Publisher John Casey accompanied us.
We 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.
We 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.
Then 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
We 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 site.
|A view up the 408-foot steel spire, which brings
the building height to its iconic 1,776 feet.
|The author (L) with Durst’s John Lyons atop the
temporary construction elevator scaffolding that
is attached to the building’s exterior, approximately
1,300 feet up.
Onward, 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 you.
The 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.
Lyons 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.
89 BROADCAST LEVEL
Transmitters 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.
Some 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
|A closeup of one of the four spire guy sets. Phillystran supplied eight aramid fiber high-performance
tower guy assemblies, each approximately100 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 pounds.
|The Durst Organization hopes to bring broadcasters back to Lower Manhattan. The site looks down
onto the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
One 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 Organization.
He 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.
|The 785-ton spire stands ready for broadcast
At 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 reveal that.
But we 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
After climbing another level and peering
down on New York Harbor, we rode down.
On the way out, we peeked at the 55-foothigh
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 planning.
Radio 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.
You can view many videos and photos
of the building, including views from various
floor levels, at onewtc.com.