Although it is no longer the tallest building in the world, the Empire State Building is a crowning achievement of architecture, a symbol of New York City, and most of all an amazing accomplishment in the field of commercial construction.
Construction was completed on April 11, 1931, one year and 45 days after it had begun. President Herbert Hoover officially opened the building on May 1, 1931 by pressing a button in Washington, D.C. which turned on the building's lights. The Empire State Building remained the world's tallest skyscraper for more than 40 years, until the World Trade Center Towers were constructed in 1972.
The building's pyramidal, set-back tower structure largely resembles that of the Empire State Building, which lies just a couple blocks due east on 34th Street.
After two and a half months of intensive bargaining, a set of agreements was finalized on July 21. The agreements called for a temporary division of Vietnam at the 17th parallel in order to allow Viet Minh forces to withdraw to the north, and French forces to withdraw to the south. National elections, north and south, were scheduled for July 1956, after which Vietnam would have one government ruling the whole country. During the two-year interim, the Geneva Agreements expressly prohibited the introduction of additional military personnel, foreign arms, and foreign military bases throughout Vietnam. The final declaration emphasized that the “military demarcation line is provisional and should not in any way be interpreted as constituting a political or territorial boundary.” The Viet Minh, having won the war, made a significant compromise in delaying its assumption of power. It did so at the behest of the Chinese and Soviet delegations, both of which were interested in reducing Cold War tensions with the United States.
Much like its contemporaries, the Empire State Building (opened in 1931) and the Chrysler Building (opened in 1930), the New Yorker is designed in the Art Deco style that was popular in the 1920s and 1930s.
The Empire State Building is a marvel of engineering and architecture, and it occupies a unique place in the history of construction companies and construction management. Not only was the 1453-foot, 103-story structure built in just over 13 months, the construction company that took on the daunting job allegedly began with nothing on hand - no equipment or supplies that would be sufficient for such an enormous undertaking. How they accomplished the task is a case study in early, successful commercial construction management.
Raskob rounded up a group of well known investors that included Coleman and Pierre S. duPont, Louis G. Kaufman and Ellis P. Earl to form Empire State, Inc. He appointed former Governor of New York and Presidential candidate Alfred E. Smith to head the group. Raskob then went to architectural firm Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates, who were known as the best skyscraper architects in the city. He told them he not only wanted an office building whose height would exceed that of the Chrysler Building, but he wanted it to be finished first.
The decade of the 1920s was known as the Art Deco Period in design. The Empire State Building's architects wanted to make this building something that would stand out, even in this era. One way they did this was by creating a building with four facades facing the street, rather than just the one that most buildings have. The highlight of the building would be its imperious tower, set off by the buildup of the lower levels and the indented setbacks of the center. Steel columns and beams were to be used to form a stable 3-D grid. Because the column grids were to be closely spaced, the open spaces in the building would be obstructed. As a result, there would be no column-free spaces on any of the building's floors.
General contractors Starrett Brothers and Eken, who were known as the premier "skyline builders" of the 1920s, made a bold bid to win the job. Not only did they promise that they could get the job done on time, but they announced that they would purchase custom-fitted equipment to fulfill the contract. The Starrett Brothers were sure that other commercial contractors trying get the job had assured the client that they had plenty of equipment, and what they didn't have they would rent. The Starret Brothers decided to take a different tack. During the interview process, when asked how much equipment the construction company had on hand they answered that they didn't own anything that would be useful on this project. They explained to the investors that the size and scope of the Empire State Building would create unusual problems. Ordinary building equipment would not suffice so they would have to design and purchase all new, custom pieces. They would sell that equipment and credit the investors with the difference when the project was complete. Their opinion was that this would cost less than renting secondhand equipment and would be more efficient. The investment group agreed.
The Empire State Building was the first commercial construction project to employ the technique of fast-track construction, a commonplace approach today but very new in the early 20th Century. This technique consists of starting the construction process before the designs are fully completed in order to reduce delays and inflation costs. In this case, it was imperative to use the fast-track construction method to win the race for the tallest building. In order to make this work, the structural engineer makes a schematic design based upon the architect's sketches. The schematic design includes the materials to be used in construction (either reinforced concrete or steel), types of floors and column spacing.
Bob Moore Construction presents a series of articles on historic commercial construction projects to commemorate the amazing accomplishments of construction companies throughout the years. This article features one of the world's most famous buildings, the Empire State Building.
The windows and spandrels are also flush with the limestone facing, an aesthetic and economic decision. The Empire State Building is a 102-story Art Deco skyscraper in New York City, New York at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street.