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View Full Version : What's the life expectancy of the Empire State Building/Chrysler Building?



banquo's_bumble_puppy
2010-Feb-15, 01:33 PM
What's the life expectancy of the Empire State Building/Chrysler Building if properly maintained?

weatherc
2010-Feb-15, 02:30 PM
I've always been curious about this as well. I know that sooner or later every building will need to be demolished, and I always wondered what was considered an appropriate lifespan for the big skyscrapers.

banquo's_bumble_puppy
2010-Feb-15, 02:34 PM
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/archive/index.php/t-139775.html

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071002151026AAtpaZa

Donnie B.
2010-Feb-15, 02:35 PM
In my opinion, the answer is "indefinite", since proper maintenance would include replacement of any critical component that was near failure.

Proper maintenance also guarantees that no water damage would cause corrosion to the structural steel, which would be the primary failure mechanism in a steel frame building.

Of course, this overlooks the possibility of such catastrophic events as natural disasters (e.g. a major meteorite strike on or near the city), nuclear attack, and so on.

swampyankee
2010-Feb-15, 03:32 PM
I've always been curious about this as well. I know that sooner or later every building will need to be demolished, and I always wondered what was considered an appropriate lifespan for the big skyscrapers.

Skyscrapers have been demolished; that's happened when they have become less valuable than the land they're occupying and a new building is expected to raise more revenue. Occasionally changes in fire codes are not "grandfathered" in, so expensive retrofits are required, or modern amenities, like fiber optic cabling and air conditioning, cannot be added economically.

I suspect that iconic buildings, like the Empire State Building, are likely to be maintained and updated beyond the time that a less-well known building would be considered obsolete.

Swift
2010-Feb-15, 03:52 PM
Of course, this overlooks the possibility of such catastrophic events as natural disasters (e.g. a major meteorite strike on or near the city), nuclear attack, and so on.
The Empire State Building did survive a B-25 crashing into it (http://www.empirestatebuildingnewyork.com/empire-state-building-1945-plane-crash/) in 1945, so it is apparently pretty durable.

Larry Jacks
2010-Feb-15, 09:11 PM
This thread prompted a memory about an old book on deconstructing the Empire State Building. A quick search indicates the book, Unbuilding (http://www.amazon.com/Unbuilding-Sandpiper-David-Macaulay/dp/0395454255), is still available. It's reportedly a good book. I never read it, I just remember hearing about it.

Gillianren
2010-Feb-15, 09:15 PM
This thread prompted a memory about an old book on deconstructing the Empire State Building. A quick search indicates the book, Unbuilding (http://www.amazon.com/Unbuilding-Sandpiper-David-Macaulay/dp/0395454255), is still available. It's reportedly a good book. I never read it, I just remember hearing about it.

Actually, I was thinking about that very book, which is on my bookshelf. In this case, it's not the idea that it's too old/decrepit which causes it to be demolished. It is, as I recall, sold wholesale to a company which takes it down and transports it to the Middle East or somesuch. It means they have to keep the pieces in better condition than if they were just destroying the thing, but I suspect most of the concerns would be the same regardless.

Larry Jacks
2010-Feb-15, 10:35 PM
It means they have to keep the pieces in better condition than if they were just destroying the thing, but I suspect most of the concerns would be the same regardless.

I suspect so. Given the building's height and the crowded conditions in NYC, even a planned demolition would have to be done carefully to prevent damage to the surrounding area. I doubt you'd want to implode the building or bring out the wrecking balls.

KaiYeves
2010-Feb-15, 10:40 PM
Oooh, I've read that book. It was pretty funny.

MAPNUT
2010-Feb-17, 03:06 PM
I think it was Scientific American that had an article years ago about what some iconic structures would look like hundreds of years in the future. There were artist's renderings, including the World Trade Center. I never saw the article, and haven't been able to track it down. It would have been speculative, of course.

I've spent my whole working life in New York City and have seen many lots cleared for new buildings to go up. However I'd estimate that only 1% of the city is under (re)construction at any time. This would imply that the average life of any building is over 100 years (in European cities it's obviously much more). If wood-and-masonry buildings last hundreds of years, I see no reason why steel and concrete buildings wouldn't.

There's functional obsolescence of course. A 40-story skyscraper, maybe 50 years old, on 42nd Street was renovated a few years ago. It was completely gutted and a new building was installed within the old steel frame, from bottom to top. Took about 2 years. I haven't seen any major building less than 80 years old be demolished. The 41-story Singer Building built 1908 was. http://www.nyc-architecture.com/GON/GON003.htm

A 40-story building just south of the World Trade Center site was damaged and/or contaminated beyond re-use, and is now being "un-built" piece by piece. It's been a slow process, with a tragic fire and mismanagement; it's still 20 stories up after years of work. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsche_Bank_Building