Norman Foster & Partners
When William Randolph Hearst in the 1920s commissioned the six-story Art Deco block to house his publishing empire, he anticipated that the building would eventually form the base for a landmark tower.
Foster gutted the old building keeping the stone shell, with
it's columns and allegorical figures, wrapped around the base of
the 42-story tower. Linked on the outside by a transparent skirt of
glazing, that floods the spaces below with natural light, the tower
seems to be floating weightlessly above the base.
You enter the building through the original facade and continue
via escalators, set within a three-story, sculpted water feature
"Icefall", to the soaring atrium that occupies the entire floor
plate and rises up through six stories.
Like a bustling town square, this dramatic space provides access
to all parts of the building. It incorporates the main elevator
lobby, the Hearst cafeteria and auditorium and mezzanine levels for
meetings and special functions.
Structurally the tower has a triangulated form - a four-story
tall "diagrid" - a highly efficient solution that uses 20 percent
less steel than a conventionally framed structure. With its corners
peeled back between the diagonals it has the effect of emphasising
the tower's vertical proportions and creating a distinctive
The new building is also distinctive in environmental terms. It is constructed using 85 percent recycled steel and designed to consume 26 percent less energy than its conventional neighbours.
Among the many features are light sensors that control the amount of artificial light on each floor. Based on the amount of natural light available at any given time motion sensors will allow for lights and computers to be turned off when a room is vacant.
The roof has been designed to collect rainwater, which will
reduce the amount of water dumped into the City's sewer system
during rainfall by 25%. Rainwater is used to replace water lost to
evaporation in the office air-conditioning system, and the
"Icefall," where the environmental function is to humidify and
chill the atrium lobby as necessary, uses harvested water.
As a result, it is the first new occupied office building in the
city to have been given a gold rating under the US Green Buildings
Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
Facts about Hearst Tower
856,000 ft2/79,500 m2
Total Usable Area: 650,218 ft2/60,470 m2
Number of Stories: 46
Michael Wurzel Peter Han
Shell and Core
Photographed by Chuck Choi
Last updated: December 14, 2012