THE RAT PACK: The future seemed bright for Condé Nast when news first broke that the publisher would be the anchor tenant of the shiny, soon-to-be landmark building, now known as One World Trade Center. In the months leading up to the move, employees were given tours of the grounds, which included a first look at its stark marble lobby, as well as an extensive map of surrounding restaurants and shops. Aside from its far away and somewhat controversial location, many saw the move as a step up and away from the hoards of tourists and Disney-costumed performers that people the streets surrounding Condé’s old headquarters at 4 Times Square.
This story first appeared in the December 16, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
But since November, when employees began their descent to 1WTC, there has been a rising number of complaints (all quietly whispered by Condé Nasters for fear of angering the corporate honchos so visibly proud of the new offices). Access inside the tightly secured building has been a source of angst for editors, who are used to receiving hand-delivered packages and food deliveries. Insiders told WWD that chief among the problems is the fact that Seamless Web doesn’t yet have 1WTC programmed into its dropdown search for deliveries, while others pointed to the fact that Town Cars can’t pull up right in front of the entrance without going through security. Employees also complained about the “maudlin” office furniture and the open-plan seating, which translated to fewer offices for senior staff and fewer doors.
Then there’s that rodent infestation that soon turned into tabloid fodder. Stories of rats leaving droppings on the desks of editors or nibbling on couture made everyone — including insiders — chuckle. The thought of a rat scurrying past the desk of Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, who “probably gave it side eye,” made for a hilarious picture, said one Condé Naster.
The media ran with the narrative, but according to sources, the “rat problem” has been improved upon after a few visits from pest control. Reports that Wintour refused to work in such conditions when she set up shop in 1WTC were dismissed as “nonsense” by insiders — she’s been working in the new building since November. Other reports that quoted editors like Graydon Carter on the rat problem, while funny, regretted to mention that the Vanity Fair editor in chief has not yet moved to the new building with his staff. Although an official memo asking employees to refrain from eating at their desks was never sent, contrary to reports, it has been common knowledge to clean up after chowing down.
Gossip is, naturally, par for the course at Condé — and some even consider the rats to be. After all, rodent infestations are common at any construction site or remodeling. With the majority of Condé Nast publications now in the building, the rodents might find less noisy (but not chicer) accommodations elsewhere. One thing is certain: Shortly after the new year, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Bon Appétit, Details and Brides will join their colleagues at 1WTC—and all their staffs are hoping the four-legged pests are out of sight by then.