FYI: This was published Thursday, May 2nd re: OTA reception in the New York City area. Any thoughts/comments from AVS members?
A towering proposal for the N.J. waterfront
The Liberty Science Center in Jersey City could become home to the world's tallest free-standing structure - a 2,000-foot-tall television transmission tower, complete with a sky-high restaurant and observation deck.
The tower, which would provide a vantage point as high as the World Trade Center's observation deck, is intended to replace the transmission antenna that sat atop the north tower.
"You'd get a view of New York that's pretty spectacular," said A. Eugene Kohn, one of the architects.
Broadcasters have temporarily relocated their antennas to the Empire State Building. But that location isn't high enough and doesn't allow for a signal strong enough to reach the entire metropolitan region, and federal communications regulations require that any new tower be located within 3.2 miles of the World Trade Center site.
The science center, a private nine-year-old museum, is about 2.5 miles away in Liberty State Park. Another possible site is Governors Island in New York Harbor, a former Coast Guard base that the federal government is handing over to the State of New York.
Which site is chosen depends not only on the broadcasters, but the willingness of political leaders in New York and New Jersey to host such a structure.
Although the Metropolitan TV Alliance, representing all 10 New York stations, has discussed the tower proposal with the museum, it has not presented New Jersey officials with any plans, said Al Ivany, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
The broadcasters association and the Liberty Science Center confirmed Wednesday that the museum is being considered as a site for such a tower, but would not provide any details.
The architectural firm of Kohn Pedersen Fox, which was hired by the broadcasters, designed an hourglass-shaped, open-air tower encircled by crisscrossing 10-inch steel cables, conveying both strength and lacy delicacy.
"We want it to be a cheerful, elegant, uplifting kind of image," Kohn said.
Governors Island, he said, is a "great location" because of its position in New York Harbor and its proximity to the skyscrapers of lower Manhattan.
"It seems to be a great symbol there," he said.
But the design also would be suitable at the Liberty Science Center, he said.
"As a New Yorker, I would prefer it to be in New York," he said. "But its intent is to serve the New York region."
Originally, the broadcasters asked for a pared-down structure that would be solely a transmission tower, Kohn said. But the vision was expanded to include a restaurant and observation deck at about 1,300 feet and retail shops around the base, in the hope that tourist revenue could help repay the tower's $200 million construction cost, he said.
Kohn thinks the tower could become an attraction akin to the 1,815-foot-tall CN Tower in Toronto, which is the tallest free-standing structure in the world. Most of the tower is hollow, but the base and top include two observation decks, restaurants, retail shops, an arcade, and a movie theater.
The world's tallest occupied building is the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at 1,483 feet. The World Trade Center's roofs topped out at 1,360 feet, and the antenna on the north tower reached to 1,728 feet.
The new tower must be so close to the original antenna because moving it farther than 3.2 miles could interfere with broadcasting in other nearby cities.
The design of the proposed tower was circumscribed by the lack of available land within that radius. A basic tower of that height, supported by guy wires, would need about 16 acres of land. So the architects designed a narrower, free-standing structure that takes up only six acres, Kohn said.
Besides conforming to federal communications regulations, the new tower can't disrupt air traffic patterns.
Since the destruction of the World Trade Center, five stations lost their digital broadcasting capability, which had allowed for high-definition pictures. The broadcasters also estimate that 350,000 homes in New York City still have no reception or an unclear signal.
Staff Writer Brian Kladko's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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