Here’s a funny little thing that happens sometimes in high-rise buildings, both commercial and residential.

Developers sometimes play games with the floor numberings.

For example:

(I)t seems that [the new] 7 World Trade [Center] [opening next month] is not 52 stories after all, as has generally been reported. According to … the building’s “Senior Technical Architect” … the building is actually only 47 stories … (S)omeone from our group mentioned having seen the elevator skip from 5 to 11 on the trip up.

It’s about marketing, apparently. Companies like the prestige factor of buying into a higher floor, so — by common consent in the industry — buildings credit themselves an additional floor for every 10 vertical feet of mechanical space.

“Tenant floors will begin at the 11th floor above grade; the entire building is 52 stories. [But] (t)he first 10 floors are dedicated to building services and a Consolidated Edison substation that supplies electrical service to Lower Manhattan.”

This started happening with residential buildings several years ago, courtesy of Mr. Donald Trump.

”Donald Trump is the father of this,” said Richard Wallgren, director of sales at the AOL building, which will be ready for occupancy this fall. ”He’d say, ‘This building has 75 stories.’ Of course, when you counted, they were missing 10 stories because he gave the lobby 15 stories or something, and apartments would start on 16.”

AOL explains the new calculus like this: if they use the average height of a ceiling in New York, 8 feet 8 inches, as their standard, the AOL towers, which were recently topped off at 750 feet each, could be counted as having 80 floors, even if they do not. (The apartments at the AOL tower have ceilings that are 10 feet or higher, so there are fewer actual floors.)

Of course, as most of us have seen for ourselves, a lot of commercial buildings skip floor 13, for superstitious reasons, which makes about as much sense as skipping five floors, completely.

Anyone aware of Boston buildings using this logic? The new Intercontinental will have a hotel on the lower floors, so residential condos will have floor numbers starting at 11 or something,. although that doesn’t mean there’ll be ten full floors beneath them.

I haven’t had a chance to check the two Ritz Towers, but I’m sure no one lives on the first floor.

More details:

7WTC: Hey, What’s Five Floors Between Friends? – Curbed.com

For Tower Residents, a New Math – By Ralph Gardner, Jr., The New York Times

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Updated: January 2018

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