A 3D model built with public records and phone calls

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When New York Times reporters Keith Collins and Matthew Haag sent their first email to the company that owns the Empire State Building in late May, New York was set to reopen in six to eight weeks — and they had ambitious ideas on how to cover it.

They wanted to create a three-dimensional model of the building to demonstrate the renovation of an office, retail store, and observation deck. You’ll use floor plans to create immersive experiences that will take readers to the world’s most famous skyscrapers.

There was only one problem: the Empire Realty Trust Company refused to give them any information.

“They wouldn’t give us anything,” Collins, a visual journalist and graphic editor, told the New York Times. “There’s not even a directory.”

Determined to find out what famous properties have to say about New York City’s future, The Times hired a team of more than a dozen journalists and editors to sift through the list of job openings. He searched, found and interviewed tenants and spent more than three months. An interactive visual feature that represents the current occupants of the building. The article was published online last week.

Although the model uses state-of-the-art graphics software, Collins says production would not have been possible without the shoe leather report. For about six weeks, Mr. Collins; Mr Haag, reporter at the subway office; Peter Avis, business reporter for companies and markets; And news assistant Barbara Harvey calls and emails companies with addresses listed on the Empire State Building.

He checks who is in the building and asks about his plans to return to the office during the pandemic. Ms. Harvey made several calls while Mr. Haag and Mr. Avis tried to analyze leasing and sublease transactions for some of the biggest tenants such as LinkedIn and Global Brands Group.

“We thought it would be a very rigorous study that gave us the data to tell the story,” Collins said. “But many of the best quotes in history have come from that call.”

While reporters follow the tenants, Kartik Patanjali, editor for a special graphics project at The Times, leads the team that creates the three-dimensional model. The skyscraper’s exterior is integral: the team relied on publicly available 3D data models from New York and Google Street View.

The interior is a more complex affair based on personal visits, interviews with tenants, job offers, promotional materials, and public applications to the SEC.

For this project, the graphics team simulated low visitor numbers to the Empire State Building Observatory on the 86th floor. They outlined places where tenants had moved and floors where companies had to adjust to fewer office workers. The reader sees an empty sales area on the ground floor.

For Mr Patanjali, who grew up in India, this project was an opportunity to immerse himself in a building he grew up in in his youth.

“The Empire State Building is a fantastic and magical thing somewhere in America,” said Patanjali. “It just feels surreal to be able to work so closely with him.”

Simon Landon, the assistant graphic editor who worked on the project and has lived in New York for a decade, was surprised by what the team had to say about the famous skyscraper.

“I never really thought about the Empire State Building,” said Ms. Landon. “Besides big companies, there are smaller tenants, like dentists or lawyers. You have all the richness and texture you wouldn’t have if it were a company. “

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