©Bruce Katz

Tall Drinks of Water

In the past five years, supertall skyscrapers have shot up in New York City, significantly altering the city’s skyline. These structures, defined as being 300-plus eters tall and typically 70-plus stories, are the subject of the book “Sky-High” (Chronicle Books), for which longtime architectural photographer Bruce Katz provided images.

The challenge of photographing these supertalls is that “there are very few places [in the city] where you can see the entire building,” he says. The project required finding rooftop or balcony locations with the proper views, and that meant reaching out to some of his existing clients as well as cold calling some building managers to see if he could get access to the roof or a high floor.

Katz was also tasked with showing how the buildings relate to the city streets and neighborhoods they inhabit. “How does it fit in at street level? How does it look from the sidewalk? That kind of thing,” he explains. So he photographed views of the buildings from Central Park and made images that included people at ground level for scale.

Photographing such incredibly tall, narrow structures in a crowded cityscape was a challenge, but it was also an honor. While photographing the supertall One World Trade Center from a couple of blocks away, “I got to spend a really beautiful day sitting on basically a terrace about 50 floors up for four or five hours watching the sun go down on lower Manhattan, and that was a wonderful, magical experience.” 

Amanda Arnold is a senior editor.