On Tuesday, October 8, we convened for a conversation about the stuff that’s in between the buildings: air. William Bryant Logan, author of Air: The Restless Shaper of the World, architect and structural engineer Leslie Robertson, who has made many of the world’s tallest buildings wind-worthy, and real estate appraiser Robert von Ancken, an expert in air rights, shared their perspective on the curious logic of the city’s air rights economy, how the wind has sculpted its facades, and how the content of its air differs by neighborhood.
William Bryant Logan is president of Urban Arborists, Inc., a Brooklyn-based tree company. He is on faculty at New York Botanical Gardens and is the author of Oak and Dirt, the latter of which was made into an award-winning documentary. Air was chosen as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2012 by The New York Times Book Review.
A pioneer in structural design innovations, Leslie Robertson is the principal of Leslie E. Robertson Associates, a structural engineering consultancy that has designed three of the six tallest buildings in the world. He was the engineer of record for the World Trade Center, designing the innovative viscoelastic dampers that reduced the towers’ sway to within the realm of acceptability in terms of the human perception threshold.
Robert Von Ancken is chairman of Landauer Valuation & Advisory, a division of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank. He has over 45 years of experience in the real estate business as an appraiser, consultant, expert witness and licensed real estate broker. Appraising unusual properties and air rights is his specialty, including such New York City landmarks as Rockefeller Center, Madison Square Garden, Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station, and the World Trade Center complex.