New Construction + Condos

One surprising drawback of living in a supertall luxury tower: Noise

By Brick Underground  | February 3, 2021 - 4:00PM

Residents at 432 Park Ave. complain about "creaking, banging, and clicking noises in their apartments," according to a New York Times article.


Tall buildings move when the wind blows—and the taller and skinnier the building is on top, the more movement you get. It’s a drawback to living in some of New York City’s supertall luxury towers, like 432 Park Ave., as a recent New York Times article explains.

But what you may find surprising is how much noise that movement causes. Residents at 432 Park—a nearly 1,400-foot tower, which briefly held the title of the tallest residential building in the world—complain of "creaking, banging, and clicking noises in their apartments” and the “groan” of metal partitions.

The excessive height of a supertall mean winds are stronger—especially on higher floors—and can rattle the cables in an elevator shaft, so at 432 Park, residents are bothered by the “ghostly whistle of rushing air in doorways and elevator shafts,” the article says.

How much do supertall towers move?

According to engineers, a typical breeze may make a tower that’s 1,000 square feet move a couple of inches—and a rare, 50-mile-per hour wind could move it about half a foot.

Most people do not notice the movement at all, but for some, it can cause the sensation of being at sea.

To counteract the movement, developers use a construction feature called a tuned mass damper—a giant steel or concrete structure that absorbs the movement. Lots of New York City’s luxury towers have them, including 432 Park Ave., which has two.

Noise is not the only complaint at 432 Park—there’s been issues with water damage, and elevator malfunctions, the Times reports.

It’s a good reminder to do your homework before looking at new development. Brick Underground has a round up of the questions you need to ask if you’re considering a new condo.

And consider adding clauses to your contract to protect yourself when buying in new construction, especially a super tall.

“Buyers should make sure that common elements such as elevators that specifically service the unit are operational at closing. While attorney general regulations generally require this to be the case, adding a contractual provision around this would only serve to supplement and strengthen those regulations,” says attorney Michael Feldman, partner and head of the residential group at Romer Debbas.


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