The building of One Worldwide Plaza in Manhattan was documented in a 1991 PBS mini-series Skyscraper: The Making of a Building by Karl Sabbagh. This classic four-part series offers a behind-the-scenes look at the design and construction of the 47-story, 770-foot tower on the site formerly occupied by New York’s famous Madison Square Garden. The entire series was just released on Youtube by DigiCom TV. It follows the developers, architects, engineers and construction crews as well as neighborhood residents who sometimes oppose the project.

Developed by William Zeckendorf, Jr., Worldwide Plaza extended the Midtown commercial area towards the residential West Side into the neighbourhood of Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton. One of the largest and first tenants was the international advertising agency of Ogilvy & Mather, who signed on early and are often featured in the mini-series. The agency leased 600,000 square-feet and it was their home for two decades.

One Worldwide Plaza’s architect was David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and the building is crowned by a copper roof and glass pyramid known as “David’s Diamond”. The base of the building is granite and precast concrete. The tower facade is made of brick.

All four episodes are embeded below. Twenty-two years later, the mini-series is still a powerful story of money, architecture, public relations, technology and construction.


Photo Credit Jim Henderson