New York building whistles neighbors say it's intolerable

December 07, 1990|By New York Times News Service

NEW YORK -- For the first time in the history of New York City, a building is being fined for whistling.

The building is Cityspire, a 72-story skyscraper best known for being too tall. Now it has been deemed too loud.

The residential and commercial tower on West 56th Street off Seventh Avenue first received notoriety a few years ago for exceeding its authorized height by 11 feet. Now it is being cited for generating a high-pitched whistle that neighbors throughout midtown say is driving them crazy.

Think of the piping sound made by blowing across the neck of a soda bottle. Now imagine a very, very big bottle.

In recent weeks, the city's Department of Environmental Protection, which levied the fine, has received hundreds of complaints about the whistling, said Sanford Evans, department spokesman.

On Wednesday afternoon, four city inspectors checking the complaints heard the whistling "from Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue, the 40s to the upper 50s," said Jerome Ross, a city environmental protection enforcement officer. "That's a loud noise."

The four inspectors went to the building's roof, where the noise was louder than below.

"They were satisfied that they had found the source of the noise," Mr. Ross said.

The city then sent a notice by mail to Ian Bruce Eichner, the developer, saying that the building had violated the unnecessary-noise section of the city's noise-control code.

Inspectors said the noise was apparently made by wind blowing over louvers on the building's green, eight-sided dome 800 feet above the ground.

"Given the aggravation I've had with this building, this tops it off," said Howard Hornstein, a lawyer for Mr. Eichner.

The developer will have to fix the whistling and pay a fine of as much as $880 if he is found to have violated the noise code.

Sam Scaccia, senior vice president of Murphy/Jahn, the Chicago architectural firm that designed Cityspire, said that fines for noisy buildings were new to him.

"I've got to admit that I've never heard of one, but anything's possible," he said.

He said that the whistling was "fixable" but that he needed to know more about the problem before proposing a solution.

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