The Cooper Union
School of Architecture


Mixed-use developments are typically complex structures but none more so than the 42nd street Redevelopment Project. Developed by Forest City Ratner, the project combines multiple diverse users under one roof forming a highly unique and unusual structure.

The overall project is divided into two main components; the base formed by the 175 foot steel framed structure enclosing a major retail / entertainment complex, and the upper half being a 53 story Hotel composed of a cast in place concrete flat slab structure. Within the base structure the first two floors house various retail establishments, above which the AMC 25 screen theater complex occupies floors 3 thru 13 forming a unique high rise theater complex. Adjacent to AMC and on the eastern side of the building, Madam Tussauds of London occupies 10 floors of space for their first American location housing their famous wax figure exhibition and entertainment facility.

Within the lower five floors of the structure two existing turn of the century theaters were to remain, the Empire theater and the Liberty theater. Both building were constructed in the early 1900’s and are integrated into the facility with the new structure being built over and around the existing theaters. The Empire theater was originally located directly in the center of the site. In order to make way for the new project its brick bearing wall structure was jacked up, placed on rails and moved to the westerly side of the site. In its final location it forms the main entrance to the AMC theater complex. The original theater building now forms the new lobby and entrance leading up and into the high-rise movie theater complex. The first phase of construction on the site entailed the construction of the new foundations for the Empire Theater enabling the move to take place thereby opening up the remainder of the site for construction. The new building spans over the top of the Empire leaving its original 42nd street façade totally visible.

The Liberty Theater on the other hand is located upon the 41st side of the project and was left in its original position. The new building structure was constructed above and around the Liberty Theater ultimately covering all sides except the 41st brick façade, which is the rear wall of the theater stage and fly loft. The entire entertainment portion of the project is constructed out of steel framing and extends 175 feet above sidewalk level. On top of this component the new hotel facility is located. The Hotel facility encompasses 25 floors, rising an additional 275 feet above the top of the theater building.

The single most unique aspect of this project is the “steel table top” constructed on top of the entertainment facility and supporting the concrete hotel. The “table top” is composed totally of steel trusses distributing the hotels gravity and lateral loads to selected locations below. The steel tabletop is 165 feet by 65 feet and is supported on a total of 8 columns. Considering that the movie theater portion of the building is composed of major long span open seating areas for over 5000 people, the tabletop columns had to be strategically located to avoid the interferences in the theaters.

Professor, Full-Time Faculty