4 Times Square Antenna Project

The Durst Organization, the real estate management company of the Condé Nast Building, also known as 4 Times Square in New York City, has undertaken the massive project of tripling the height of the tower high atop its building in the center of Times Square. Located between Rockefeller Center (home to NBC and Sirius Radio) and the Empire State Building, 4 Times Square is coming into its own as a premier transmission facility. The loss of the World Trade Center has left New York with few options for transmitter sites, and the construction of any alternate sites, such as the proposed sites on Bayonne, NJ, or Governor's Island tower, seem to be far off, if they happen at all.

It's a pleasure to tour the 4 Times Square site because it was designed and built to be a transmission facility from the start. Many downtown office buildings and skyscrapers were never designed to house an antenna farm or high-powered transmitters. The result is a great deal of structural retrofitting, transmitter installations in what were intended to be office suites, shortages of power, lack of adequate air conditioning and challenges when mounting antennas and meeting current wind-loading specifications.

Additional steel reinforcements were needed to increase the structure's strength.

4 Times Square is coming into its own as a premier transmission facility. Photo by Rob Donahue.

Comparison of the coverage of WPLJ from the Empire State Building (green) and the predicted coverage from 4 Times (blue).

Workers set the channel 68 Andrew Trasar Antenna to the top of the tower. The workers are leveling it while it is supported by the ginpole. This antenna is the final piece of the tower. Photo by John Lyons.

In contrast, 4 Times Square incorporated these basic design goals and more into the building. In fact, the tower was part of the architectural design and is part of what gives the building its unique look among the other buildings in the New York City skyline.

The renovation project eliminates the old 132-foot tower (which has already been removed) and replaces it with a 385-foot tower capable of transmitting for every licensee authorized in the New York area. It will act as a main transmission site for some and an alternate for others. The height above ground to the top of the tower is 1,118 feet. The tower starts at the base as a 12-foot face and is square in design. It then tapers to an eight-foot face, then a five-foot face and finally a four-foot face. An eight-sided octagon pole is mounted at the top for a UHF antenna. The tower is being constructed by ERI, who is also the lead contractor on site for the installation. ERI is assisted by the New York Ironworkers Local 40 and the IBEW Local 3 for the electrical work.

From the bottom to the top, the antennas that will be mounted to the tower are channel 2, a master for channel 4 and 5, the master FM (a six bay, half-wave spaced), a master for channels 7 through 13, a master for channel 24 through 45, a master for channels 40 through 60 and finally a pole-mounted UHF for channel 68. All of the TV antennas are DTV-ready.

All of the TV antennas and transmission lines are provided by Dielectric with the exception of the pole-mounted UHF antenna and its transmission line at the top for channel 68, which are provided by Andrew. The TV combiners and the radio antenna transmission line is supplied by Myat.

The FM panel antenna is being manufactured by Shiveley. It is a model 6016 — Modified. It has twice as many dipoles as a standard 6016. Having these additional dipoles mounted half-wave spaced reduces downward radiation. Considering the possibility of the entire tower being used, maintaining safe levels of radiation into the building is an important feature.

Another interesting aspect of the design of the FM Master is the fact that it is IBOC ready. In addition to being broadband, it has a separate port on the combiner for digital transmitters. The result is that the number of bays, wavelength spacing, gain, elevation pattern and centerline of radiation of the digital signal will be the same as for the analog signal. The antenna design provides 30dB to 36dB of isolation between the analog and digital signals.

Tower lighting is being handled by Flash Technology. Strobes will be used during the day and red lights at night, all of which will be tied together and flash simultaneously.

Current clients at the site include back-up transmitters for Clear Channel's WHTZ (100.3), WKTU (103.5), WAXQ (104.3), WWPR (105.1) and WLTW (106.7). Also using the site as a back up are WNYC (93.9), WPAT (93.1) and WSKQ (97.9). Columbia University's WKCR (89.9) is moving to the new antenna once it's completed. Univision is moving four TV stations to the new tower, channels 40, 41, 53 and 68, and ABC/Disney channels 7 and 45 have signed up as well. Channels 41 and 68 are analog signals while 40 and 53 are DTV. Channels 53 and 68 will be primary transmission sites and 40 and 41 will be back-ups.

John Lyons,manager of communications and broadcast operations for the Durst Organization, has left no stone unturned when it comes to the site design. Involved in the conceptual stages of the building design and having had years of experience with the Empire State building Master Antenna Committee, he knew what was needed to attract broadcasters to the building. Items of interest to engineers include auxiliary power and HVAC. The building has two diesel generators for a total of 3.4MW of power with a third generator being added, which will bring that total up to 5.4MW. Power is three-phase at 480V. The site also has 800 tons of air conditioning, with no shortage of air to keep things cool. The fire sprinklers are designed with a pre-action system, keeping the pipes dry until water is called for by the fire alarm system preventing any mishaps with leaks or failed heads.

The layout of the building by floor has all mechanical on the 49th floor. The lower and upper mezzanines (in-between 49 and 50) are for TV transmitters. The 50th floor is the main roof, which can hold 40-50 seven-foot racks for two-way and communications customers. The 51st floor is for the FM transmitters and combiners, and the 52nd floor houses the TV combiners. Transmitters can be installed in the open or rooms can and have been built for customers who desire the security of a private room.

Increasing the strength of the structure to hold the additional weight could have been a nightmare or even impossible at some locations. However, at this site it involves some additional steel reinforcements going down a few floors tied to the main framework of the building, all of which were readily accessible with a little bit of core drilling. The new steel is being welded into the existing building structure at various points determined by the structural engineers. New base steel is being hauled up the side of the building with a derrick.

Completion of the project, including the installation of the tower and all of the antennas was finished on Oct 2, 2003. Testing has begun with completion slated for sometime this fall.

Trautmann is senior vice president of engineering for Westwood One Radio Networks, New York.

Today in Radio History

Milestones From Radio's Past

The history of radio broadcasting extends beyond the work of a few famous inventors.

EAS Information More on EAS

NWS XML/Atom Feed for CAP Messages

The feed provides feeds for all US states and territories.

Wallpaper Calendar

Radio 2014 Calendar Wallpaper

Need a calendar for your computer desktop? Use one of ours.

The Wire

A virtual press conference

Information from manufacturers and associations about industry news, products, technology and business announcements.

Join Us Facebook Twitter YouTube LinkedIn
Radio magazine cover

Current Issue

National Public Radio

Building For The Future

Browse Back Issues

[an error occurred while processing this directive]