The Skyscraper Museum
Green Giants
The Skyscraper Museum

The Skyscraper Museum is devoted to the study of high-rise building, past, present, and future. The Museum explores tall buildings as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence. This site will look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.


The Empire State Building and Sears/Willis Tower

Thursday, April 22, 2010
6:30 - 8:00 PM
The Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place
Reception to follow across the street at The Skyscraper Museum, 39 Battery Place

Click here to view the lecture as part of our streaming video series!

RSVP required at programs[at]
1.5 CEUs available

ANTHONY E. MALKIN, Empire State Building Company

ADRIAN SMITH, Principal, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
GORDON GILL, Principal, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

ROHIT AGGARWALA, NYC Mayor's Office of Operations, Executive Director, Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability

On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, GREEN GIANTS explores the urban aspect of environmental awareness. New York and Chicago lead the country in plans to reduce their carbon footprints, and both cities have recognized that retrofitting older buildings is key to a more sustainable future.

Aerial"/Carbon Reduction Aerial Model
Image courtesy of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

The Empire State Building, completed in 1931, and Chicago's Sears (now Willis) Tower, completed in 1974, each reigned as the world's largest office building and represented the design standards and state-of-the-art building technologies of its era. Today, the Empire State Building is an innovative case study for a retrofit by a team including The Clinton Climate Initiative, Johnson Controls, Jones Lang LaSalle, and the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Carbon"/Carbon Reduction Synopsis Graph
Image courtesy of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
The other GIANT, Willis Tower, has also undertaken a greeningand modernization project designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. The lessons of the Willis project have also helped inform AS+GG'sChicago Central Area Decarbonization Plan.AS+GG partnersAdrian Smith and Gordon Gill lead this project to meet the goals of the 2030 Challenge for Chicago's Loop to reduce the area's carbon emissions.Their plan for the Willis Tower, which will reduce the building's electricity use by 80 percent and its water use by 24 million gallons annually,will be presented by Smith and Gill.

By very different approaches, both efforts aim to make their buildings dramatically more energy efficient. A panel discussion on methods and urban sustainability follows.

Earth Day 2010 will celebrate the intrinsic "greenness" of cities, as exemplified by New York and Chicago and their historical towers moving into the future.


ANTHONY E. MALKIN is President of Malkin Holdings LLC and its affiliates Malkin Properties and W&H Properties. Tony has led the $550 million Empire State ReBuilding program, including the faithful recreation of the original Art Deco lobby. With partners, the Clinton Climate Initiative, Johnson Controls, Jones Lang LaSalle, and the Rocky Mountain Institute, he is transforming the Empire State Building into a 21st-century leader in environmental awareness and energy efficiency.

ADRIAN SMITH has been a practicing architect for more than 40 years. Prior to founding Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture in 2006, he was a Design Partner in the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill from 1980 to 2003 and a Consulting Design Partner from 2004 to 2006. His work includes the design of three of the world's ten tallest skyscrapers: the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, the 98-story Trump International Hotel & Tower, and the extraordinary Burj Khalifa in Dubai, at 2717 feet, the world's tallest freestanding structure.

Adrian Smith's design approach emphasizes sensitivity to the physical environment, considering each project holistically and taking into consideration site orientation, climate and geography, cultural and social influences to create highly sustainable and contextual projects. Recently, Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill joined Robert Forest and Roger Frechette as founding principals of PositivEnergy Practice (, an energy, engineering and consulting firm that designs and implements energy, resource management and carbon reduction strategies for public and private clients around the world.

GORDON GILL was an Associate Partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and a Director of Design for VOA Associates prior to founding Smith + Gill Architecture in 2006. His work includes the design of civic facilities, large-scale mixed-use developments, city-wide master plans, the world's first net zero-energy skyscraper and the world's first large-scale positive energy building, Masdar Headquarters. These landmark projects achieve energy independence through harnessing natural forces on site, exemplifying his philosophy that architecture must strike a balance with its global environmental context.

ROHIT AGGARWALA heads the Mayor's Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability. Prior to NYC government he worked as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company and with the Federal Railroad Administration under President Clinton. Since joining the Bloomberg's administration, a majority of his time has been spent developing and implementing PlaNYC 2030. Among his achievements under PlaNYC are new requirements on hybrid taxis, the creation of the New York City Panel on Climate Change, and the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan to improve energy efficiency in existing buildings.

Dr. Aggarwala holds BA, MBA, and PhD degrees from Columbia University in U.S. History, as well as a Master's from Queens University in Ontario. He also currently chairs a subcommittee on the Federal Transportation Research Board.

For a five-minute documentary on the Empire State Building's environmental and energy-efficiency initiatives, see: Empire State Building: Leadership in American Progress in Sustainability.

The Empire State Building is a trademarked design and is used with permission by ESBC.

This program was organized by The Skyscraper Museum, in partnership with The Museum of Jewish Heritage and Battery Park City Authority as part of NY's Greenest, programming running from April 17 to April 25.


The exhibitions and programs of The Skyscraper Museum are supported by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency.