In the present
era's future the
skyscraper will
be considered
ne plus ultra of
the capitalistic
a prancing iron
horse of industrial
revolution rearing
high hoofs in the
air for the
plunge before
the runaway
- to oblivion...

  Frank Lloyd
  Wright, 1958

I N T E R N A T I O N A L   S T Y L E
P A R T   I I


CBS Building
Chatham Towers
860-870 U.N. Plaza
University Plaza
Home Insurance Company
Marine Midland Bank
N.Y. Telephone Co. Building
  (Murray Hill)
American Brands Building
Westvaco Building
Javits Federal Office
General Motors Building
Paramount Plaza
2 Penn Plaza
4 N.Y. Plaza
345 Park Avenue
1411 Broadway
1 Astor Plaza
1 N.Y. Plaza
Interchem Building
2 N.Y. Plaza
77 Water Street
Gulf + Western Building
127 John Street
Park Lane Hotel
1 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza
Exxon Building
McGraw-Hill Building II

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THE CBS BUILDING (51 W 52nd St.)
[Eero Saarinen]

was built in 1961-1965 for the Columbia Broadcasting Company on this Sixth Avenue strip housing several TV network and publishing company headquarters.

Since 1960, the CBS had considered several other locations for the new building, including the site which eventually was taken over by the Pan Am Building. The prestige reasons finally led to the selection of a Sixth Avenue site.

The 38-storey building was the only skyscraper designed by the Finnish-born Saarinen (whose father, Eliel, had designed the influential second-place entry in the Chicago Tribune Tower competition in 1922).

Saarinen had died in 1961 but he worked on the sketches for the building from 1960 until his death. The bureau was kept in his name by his colleagues John Dinkeloo and Kevin Roche until 1966 when they changed the name to Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates. (Saarinen's other works in New York include Vivian Beaumont Theater in ncoln Center and the futuristic JFK airport TWA terminal).

The building is set back 8 m from each plot line, partly to isolate it from the neighbouring buildings, partly to take it clear of the subway line running underneath the north-western corner of the plot.

The facade of the 149.5 m tall building is characterized by the massive, Canadian black granite-clad columns that point the facets of their triangular form to the outside. The columns soar all the way from the ground to the top of the building and also the spandrels are of black granite, creating an effect differing much from the glass-curtain wall high-rises of that time. For its imposing appearance, the building was dubbed the "Black Rock".

In effect, the facade, with the columns spaced at 10 ft (3.3 m) on the center line, forms an outer wall support system along the lines of the Chase Manhattan Bank. The 10.7 m span between the outer wall and center core is free of additional columns, thus freeing space and enhancing flexibility. The total internal space is 74,300 m².

On the Sixth Avenue side there is a shallow sunken plaza. The lobby is clad in white travertine, with dark granite columns as a contrast.

Along the lines of another detailed corporate showcase, the Seagram Building with its Four Seasons restaurant, there is a ground floor restaurant on the side facing mid-block.

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(170 Park Row)

[Kelly & Gruzen]
was completed in 1965 to Chinatown as a residential project.

The complex consists of two 25-storey towers with exposed concrete facades and forms reminiscent of Oriental themes. The pagoda-like protrusions in the corners are created by two floors with balconies alternating with two without.

Each tower houses 120 apartments, with the parking spaces for 125 cars located underground. A landscaped yard and a plaza by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg occupy most of the site.

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THE 860-870 U.N. PLAZA
[Harrison, Abramovitz, & Harris]

was built in 1963-1966 as a mixed-use twin-tower north of the United Nations.

A derivative of Wallace K. Harrison's pre-U.N. "X City" design of 1946, his residential twin slab configuration was completed twenty years later.

The 32-storey towers house a total of 334 apartments, with the top eight floors consisting of 56 duplexes. The 28,000 m² of office space occupy the first six floors of the base. Both have separate entrances from 48th and 49th Streets, respectively.

The 38-storey facade of the building is a curtain wall of dark-tinted glass, with narrow mullion fins extending to the top. The building had floor-to-ceiling glass walls a decade before the Olympic Tower on Fifth Avenue. The base houses also a large roof deck.

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(100 and 110 Bleecker St. and 505 LaGuardia Pl.)

[I.M. Pei & Partners]

was built in 1966 for the New York University.

The housing development consists of three 32-storey apartment towers, two of which are for university's faculty housing (the "Silver Towers", nos. 100 and 110 Bleecker Street) and one to accommodate middle-income families.

In 1963 the New York University in Greenwich Village acquired the site at the intersection of West Houston Street and LaGuardia Place, originally planned to house the third example of the two apartment slabs (Washington Square Village) north of Bleecker Street.

The original plans called for one of the three towers to be merely 7-storeys tall, but eventually all three were built to the same height. The facades are of exposed, grey concrete with the windows recessed in a beehive-like grid pattern on each facade, offset to one side by building-high blank concrete walls. The piers separating the large windows are slightly wedged and a similar treatment is given to the deep, sloping window sills, with the underside retained straight, forming a Corbusian brise soleil as a shelter from sunlight.

As an artwork on the courtyard green, an enlargement of Picasso's sculpture Bust of Sylvette (1934) was chosen, executed by Norwegian sculptor Carl Nesjär. The 60-ton, 12 m high sculture is of Norwegian black stone and sand-blasted concrete, and for some reason The New York Times once proclaimed it to be the ugliest piece of public art in the city...

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[Alfred Easton Poor]

was built in 1966 to Maiden Lane for the Home Insurance Company, as one of the first Downdown International Style skyscrapers to follow in the wake of the nearby Chase Manhattan Bank of 1960.

The 192 m tall building consists of two parts: the 44-storey windowless "core" on the western side, and the intertwining office part facing east. With that arrangement the building resembles Poor's Javits Federal Office Building, completed a year later to the Downtown Civic Center.

The facade has vertical window striping with darker spandrels.

The plaza underwent in 1987 a redesign by Kohn Pedersen Fox Assocs..

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[Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Gordon Bunshaft as chief designer]

was completed in 1967 as another influential bank headquarters next to the Chase Manhattan Bank, by the same architect.

The 52-storey building is notable for its slightly trapezoidal plan form, tapering to the side facing Broadway and reducing from four to three structural bays, as well as the first use of a flush, homogenous curtain wall.

The 221 m tall facade consists of dark-tinted glass with matt black anodized aluminium spandrels and thin mullions, giving the building a distinguished appearance that was consequently widely copied. There is 92,900 m² of total internal space within.

The building was considerably drawn back from the Broadway street line and a plaza of white travertine was created on the vacated part of the plot. On the plaza stands Isamu Noguchi's Cube (1967), a holed red-orange cube standing on its corner (image 1 2). Bunschaft had first proposed a monolith-like sculpture, but it was estimated to be too expensive.

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THE N.Y. TELEPHONE CO. BUILDING (Murray Hill) (233 E 37th St.)
[Kahn & Jacobs]

was built in 1967 to Murray Hill for the New York Telephone Company.

The 24-storey building houses both office space and telecom equipment as one of the several high-rise telephone centers in Manhattan.

The building was the first to use the 1965 addition to the city's plaza bonus regulations; occupying a through-block plot, the rectangular, limestone-clad mass of the tower is split by an octagon of black glass, with the faceted portions pointing to the streets and lifted on columns from the elevated plazas in front.

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[Shreve, Lamb & Harmon]

replaced in 1967 the exhibition hall Grand Central Palace (1913) and an office building, both part of the "Terminal City" complex around the Grand Central Terminal.

As originally proposed by William Lescaze in 1961, the building was to be a 55-storey glass-steel slab set back from the Park Avenue building line to create a plaza, but nothing came of that plan.

The 197.5 m tall tower stands slightly set-back on a wider base that extends to the plot lines and its 47-storey mass is divided in two by a larger center core that creates a somewhat cruciform plan for the building as well as rises above the wings.

Now the building is the namesake of the Bear Stearns Co., which is also building its new headquarters to a block nearby.

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[Emery Roth& Sons]

was built in 1965-1967 on Park Avenue for the Westvaco paper and packaging product company.

The 175 m tall tower has facades of dark-tinted glass and metal-clad spandrels and piers. The whole 42-storey height of the glass wall above the street-level arcade is accentuated by shiny mullions alternating with matt ones, all leading all the way to the top of the building.

The building is flanked by a streetside plaza and houses, along with office tenants, also the Consulate General of Japan, New York and the Japan Information Center. (As a sidenote, one of the developer brothers, Zachary Fisher, financed the conversion of the a/c carrier "USS Intrepid" into an NYC museum in 1982.)

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[Alfred Easton Poor, Kahn & Jacobs, Eggers & Higgins]

or Jacob K. Javits Federal Building and Customs Courthouse, as the complex's full name goes, was built in 1967 for the US Federal Government as the only realized buildings, along with the nearby Family Court Building, of the 1962 Civic Center general plan.

At 179 m the Federal Building dominates the Civic Center at Foley Square along with the Municipal Building and the U.S. Courthouse.

This massive building has a 41-storey glass-walled slab facing east that is partly "wrapped" around a core that faces Broadway. Originally the facade facing Broadway was a windowless wall of exposed concrete, but in 1976 an extension by the same architects brought offices also to the western portion. The vertical window slits of the glass walls are misaligned so that all the adjacent windows are at a different height, forming an alternating zig-zag pattern on the facade.

On the triangular plaza in front of the building is the eight-storey Customs Courthouse as a black glass cube that is elevated on two white vertical "plates" that slice through the cube.

Just like Alfred E. Poor, designer of the similar Home Insurance Company Building, brought in the core/slab form from his previous work, Kahn & Jacobs went on to later build the Midtown N.Y. Telephone Co. Building to Bryant Park, with similarly arranged volumes.

The elevated plaza/paved park has numerous benches as well as the sculpture Tilted Arc (Richard Serra, 1981), made of pre-rusted CorTen steel.

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[Edward Durrell Stone Assocs. and Emery Roth and Sons]

was built in 1965-1968 for the General Motors automotive company.

The site was previously occupied by the Savoy-Plaza Hotel (1927) by McKim, Mead & White, the southernmost in a row of luxury hotel buildings around the south-eastern corner of Central Park.

The facade of the 50-storey building is formed by piers of white marble with glass bays between, and the vertically soaring mass with a slightly protruding center rises to the height of 215 m.

The ground floor main lobby is extensively clad in Greek white marble. The display space for General Motors cars at the north end was doubled as a toy showroom after the FAO Schwartz toy store moved to the south wing of the lobby, and finally GM removed its articles altogether.

The building's base was to originally span the whole plot -- with a 48-storey slab rising from it -- but in order to increase the tower's bulk, a plaza was incorporated into the scheme. The large, 1,860 m² plaza was sunken below grade and faces Grand Army Plaza across Fifth Avenue. The space was used by an outdoor café, and shops lining the plaza under street level.

The building changed hands in 1998 for the notable sum of $878 million to Donald Trump and the insurance firm Conseco, resulting in, for example, a remodeling of the plaza to a more accessible design as well as redecorating the lobby with Vermont Verdi marble and brass trim. After its remodelling, the plaza has, however, not succeeded in attracting retail tenants. The original plans for converting the top of the building into either luxury condominiums or a hotel, as well as the later office condo building plan, were discarded early on.

In the renovation the ground-floor car showroom was converted into the studio for CBS's "Early Show"; in a deal that has spawned a lawsuit from the neighbouring residents, the outside plaza has been occasionally rented out for the outdoor activities connected to the show, despite the need for a city permit for such commercial activities.

After a defeat in court, Trump parted company with the bankrupt-ridden Conseco, which consequently auctioned off the building; in August 2003, Macklowe Properties bid $1.4 billion for the building, a US record sum (until the sale of Met Life Building in 2005).

The Cityreview entry
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[Emery Roth & Sons]

was built in 1968 as the Uris Building on the site of the old Capitol cinema theater (Thomas Lamb, 1919) dating from 1919.

The 48-storey building rises to the height of 204.5 m. The facade of dark gray glass is accentuated by narrow striping and topped by a row of openings at the top.

Along with the ample internal space of 208,200 m², the development also includes two theaters: the Uris Theater with 1,933 seats for musicals and the 650-seat Uptown Circle in the Square.

In front of the building is a sunken plaza facing Broadway.

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THE 2 PENN PLAZA (2 Pennsylvania Plaza)
[Charles Luckman Assocs.]

was built in 1968 to the Penn Station complex in Midtown Manhattan.

Designed by the bureau of the once-chairman of the Lever Brothers' company and the driving force behind the 1952 Lever Building, this 29-storey office slab is a definite departure from it, but nevertheless now acts as the eastern front of the multi-use complex and a termination point for 32nd Street.

The overground two-block sports and entertainment center (Madison Square Garden) is joined by the underground replacement of McKim, Mead & White's old Pennsylvania Station (1910) and this separate office tower with an entrance to the railway station.

The facade is of darkened glass separated by piers of pre-cast concrete extending to the equipment openings at the top. On the sides are lower wings with elevated plazas.

To the west of the building, separating it from the cylindrical MSG, is the Penn Plaza, a through-block route.

The planned second office building to the complex, an elliptical, 52-storey tower by Kahn & Jacobs, was not built.

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[Carson, Lundin & Shaw]

was built in 1969 as the Manufacturers Hanover Trust Operations Center.

The area of blocks between Water and South Streets in southernmost Downtown was originally planned for a new New York Stock Exchange building development or a unified renewal project, but eventually independent projects like this took over the area.

This unsetback 22-storey "fortress" is clad in large brown-coloured brick blocks to unify it, as the first Modernist skyscraper in the neighbourhood, with the existing building crop of the island tip. The facades are opened by varying narrow vertical window patterns and the building differs notably from its shoreside neighbour, the 2 N.Y. Plaza.

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[Emery Roth & Sons]
was built in 1967-1969 as an office building to a central location on Park Avenue.

One of the buildings replaced on the full block site between Park and Lexington Avenues was the Hotel Ambassador (1921, Warren & Wetmore).

With its 44-storey facade of grid-iron-patterned concrete and glass, the building bears great resemblance with the contemporary 55 Water Street in Downtown Manhattan. There is 167,300 m² of office space within the 193.5 m tall building.

There is a five-storey wing on the northern side of the plot, bordering the raised plaza on the Park Avenue corner. Along with trees, the plaza displays a bronze sculpture, Dinoceras, by Robert Cook.

Inevitably, the mass of the building dominates the neighbouring old General Electric Tower on its south side and the modernist Seagram Building to the North, although the white colour of the facade was also partly chosen to make the building stand out as a "backdrop" for the Seagram's.

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[Irwin S. Chanin]

was built in 1967-1969 as the World Apparel Center for clothing manufacturers in the Garment District.

The building replaced the neo-Renaissance old Metropolitan Opera (J.C. Cady, 1883; interior Carrère & Hastings, 1903) that was demolished in 1967, with only the bar from the building retained and moved to St. Louis.

The 42-storey, full-block building has a symmetrical plan and incorporates 53,300 m² of space. The facades of the 153 m high building echoed the vertical-finned exterior style of the later Rockefeller Center Extension buildings, with stone fins dividing the vertical window strips and the bronzed aluminium spandrels.

For this manufacturer and showroom building, its complement of 22 elevators includes more service elevators than is usual for office skyscrapers, as well as an additional, extra-wide staircase. There is in-building parking space for 155 cars.

The building's two-storey, dark anodized aluminium-sheathed base is flanked by plazas and lobby entrances on both avenue sides. On the Seventh Avenue side, the giant button and needle sculpture (Pentagram Group, 1976) accompanies the Fashion District info kiosk.

The building was renovated in 1999.

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THE 1 ASTOR PLAZA (1515 Broadway)
[Kahn & Jacobs, Der Scutt as chief designer]

was built in 1968-1969 in Times Square, replacing Hotel Astor (Clinton & Russell, 1904), which was closed in 1967.

The development initiated the Special Theater District Zoning Amendment, introduced to lessen the detrimental effect of office tower construction to the traditionally entertainment-orientated Times Square area. In effect from Sixth to Seventh Ave. and 40th to 57th St., it offered bonuses for inclusion of theaters to the new office buildings in order to keep the area vital also in the evenings. In case of the 1 Astor Plaza, the 20 per cent increase in space resulted in a 130,100 m² building.

The 54-storey office tower is set back 41 meters from the Broadway side building line, rising behind a base of glass and concrete housing the theater and retail spaces.

The tower's curtain wall of glass is flanked by protruding corner "piers" of glass and limestone, doubling as mechanical equipment shafts. The top of the building at 222.5 m has a limestone "cap" with eccentric crownlike spikes at the roof corners, making the building easily recognisable on the skyline and an early break from the Internationalist rationale. Originally also known as the W.T. Grant Building, in the early years the text logo "Grants" was perched on the face of the top crown.

The office tower main entrance is from the Broadway side corners, with escalators leading to the second-floor lobby and elevators of the office tower. A through-building arcade leading from 44th Street to 45th doubles as an entrance to the building's Broadway theater.

The large Minskoff Theater, named after the building's developers, was designed by Scutt and has a 1,621 seat capacity. The theater lobby, accessible by escalators from the arcade, occupies the upper portion of the glass walled space facing Broadway, along with two cantilevered balconies. There is also a below-grade, 1,440-seat (originally 1,500) auditorium space underneath the retail spaces, opened as a cinema in 1974, but closed in 2004 to be converted into a live rock concert hall.

The building proved to be structurally demanding as the Minskoff Theater's stage and technical tower was housed underneath the Broadway side of the office building, necessitating the use of massive trusses to redirect the loads around the theater stage.

On the backside of the building is the old theatrical throughway of Shubert Alley, in the original designs planned to be covered as a glazed galleria, in vein of the ex-AT&T; Building.

Scutt's work on the building earned him the attention of Donald Trump and eventually led to the commission for the Trump Tower.

Today the building is owned by the Viacom media company and named accordingly, housing, for example, the New York studios of the Music Television.

In 2002, the SL Green Realty Corp. made a notably high $483.5 million deal on the building, at the time the highest since the WTC deal in 2001. By late 2005, the recapitalization value of the building had risen to $625 million.

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[William Lescaze & Assocs. and Kahn & Jacobs]

built in 1969-1970, this building at the intersection of South and Whitehall Streets is the southernmost of all Manhattan skyscrapers.

The building has on the South Street side a lower projecting wing, over which the 50-storey, 192 m tall main mass rises with its notched corners. The floorplates in the lower portion below 22nd floor measure 6,500 m², suitable for trading floor operations, while the upper floors house 3,700 m². The building incorporates 228,400 m² in all.

The facade, designed by Nevio Maggiora, is of boxlike "beehive" pattern with the windows recessed within, made of aluminium-clad wall elements. A portion of the mid-facade on the wing roof level is of dark steel plating, apparently to accommodate HVAC equipment.

The top of the building forms a cornice-like protrusion which houses an exclusive dining club.

In August 1970, the building suffered a fire in which two people died and 35 were injured, spread from floor to floor by ducting routings. The deaths were caused by the bizarre occurrence where an occupied elevator was "summoned" to the burning floor by a heat-activated call button -- designed to react to a warm finger.

The building was renovated in 1994.

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[Emery Roth & Sons]

replaced in 1969 a series of small shops and bars along Sixth Avenue, typical occupants in the area before the "restructuring" with skyscrapers.

The 45-storey building rises to 168.5 m and houses 81,600 m² of space behind its vertically accentuated facade.

On the Sixth Avenue side there are two low wings, enclosing a small plaza between them.

In 1994 the building undervent a renovation resulting in a rebuilt lobby, elevator and mechanical upgrades and new communications installations.

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[Kahn & Jacobs]

rose in 1971 next to the brick-clad 4 N.Y. Plaza at the southern tip of Manhattan.

The design of the 40-storey facade involved Nevio Maggiora (like with the same architects' 1 N.Y. Plaza) and was strikingly different from its neighbour with its black and white vertical striping and the recessed technical equipment intakes mid-way up the facade.

A contemporary recession in the real estate market resulted in the building's 102,200 m² of office space not having a single tenant at the time of its completion.

The building's lobby is clad in white marble and granite, and granite is also used on the plaza's arrangement of benches and a waterfall.

Next to the building, parted from the re-clad, red tile Jeannette Park (1972), is the elevated Vietnam Veterans Plaza (1985), a paved square with large blocks covered with ceramic tiles that have inscribed passages from Vietnam-based soldiers' letters, newspaper articles etc. printed on them.

The building, also known as 125 Broad Street, has, as of 2003, its ownership split between SL Green (40 percent, 48,800 m² in floors 2-15) and the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell.

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[Emery Roth & Sons]

was built in 1970 to the to the Financial District riverside.

The strong horizontal banding by alternating black glass wall and aluminium plating with black bands in the middle define the 26-storey, low-key facade. In vertical direction, the window stripes are divided by unbroken vertical metal spars, indicating the placement of structural columns, and further into six-pane sections by thin mullions.

The mid-facade technical equipment floor is distinguishable by its exterior of dense horizontal grating.

The interior design and the arcaded plaza below the building were by Corchia-de Harak Assocs. with landscape architect A.E. Bye. The slightly elevated plaza has such elements as water pools, seatings/sculptures with large round red discs and "heat trees", lighting fixtures in a tree arrangement on a pole. To "top" it all, on the roof of the 47,000 m² building is a mock-up of a WWI Sopwith Camel fighter aircraft.

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THE GULF + WESTERN BUILDING (15 Columbus Circle)
[Thomas E. Stanley]

was built in 1970 for the Gulf + Western company north of Columbus Circle, at the south-western corner of Central Park.

The building occupies a narrow block between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, and at 207 m it dominates the view to the north, as well as its immediate surroundings.

The top of the building sported a restaurant, which, however, was never a success. Similarly, the cinema space in the basement -- named Paramount after the picture company that Gulf + Western owned -- was closed as the building was sold.

Problems with the 45-storey building's structural frame gave it unwanted fame as its base was scaffolded for years and the upper floors were prone to sway excessively on windy days, actually leading to cases of seasickness.

The 1997 renovation into a hotel and residential building, the Trump International Hotel & Tower (One Central Park West), by Costas Kondylis and Philip Johnson involved extensive renovation of both interior and facades. For example, the 45 storeys of the original office tower were converted into a 52-storeyed residential building, enabled by the lower ceiling height of residential spaces. The facade was converted with the addition of dark glass walls with distinctive shiny steel framing.

The hotel and residences have separate entrances from the street, the previous being located below the 23rd floor, and with apartments occupying the upper portion of the building. The condominium tower houses 168 hotel suites and 166 apartments, although Donald Trump himself owns little less than the penthouse, being mostly run by Asian capital.

The plaza is triangular in shape and faces Columbus Circle. The "tip" of the plaza is occupied by a large steel globe sculpture. There is a circular subway entrance, as well as a sunken entrance to a movie theater.

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[Emery Roth & Sons]
was built in 1971 as an office building at the South Street Seaport in Downtown.

The 32-storey facade consists of bands of dark glass and double rows of aluminium plating.

From the six-storey base, aligned with the surrounding streets as an irregular rectangle, rises the tower slab, aligned with Pearl Street to the west, forming a clearly visible diagonal difference of building masses on the Seaport side.

Like with the other Melvyn Kaufman-developed office tower of the era, the 77 Water Street, the building's interior design was by Corchia-de Harak Assocs.. In the characteristically innovative style, there are a series of successive lobbies, canopies and tube entrances on the ground floor, as well as painted equipment and blinking lights on the glass-walled mid-building technical floors.

The building was renovated and converted into an apartment building -- the 51,000 m² of space was converted into 576 apartments as well as retail spaces. In the process, the original, inadequately rigid steel frame had to be strengthened by a series of steel trusses to counter the notable swaying of the building.

The building now serves as the NYU at the Seaport, the NY University dormitory building with shared studios and suites.

The building is also known as 200 Water Street.

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THE PARK LANE HOTEL (36 Central Park South)
[Emery Roth & Sons]

was built in 1971 as one of the numerous hotels lining Central Park South.

After the City Planning Commission had rezoned the area as a non-office hotel district, the developer Harry Helmsley changed the planned office building to a hotel instead.

The 46-storey tower has an L-shaped plan and a cladding of white marble. The darkened window stripes on the north facade, facing Central Park, end in semi-circular tops.

The hotel lobby has extensive marble decor, with entrances from both 58th Street and Central Park South. The second-floor dining room faces Central Park through rounded windows.

The 640-room hotel is part of the Helmsley hotel chain, like the New York Palace Hotel. The triplex on the 46th, 47th and 48th floors of the hotel is occupied by Leona Helmsley, the widow of (and co-developer with) Harry Helmsley.

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[Raymond & Rado]

was built in 1971 to the East Midtown area "influenced" by the nearby United Nations headquarters.

The portion of 47th Street east of Second Avenue is named after the Swedish-born, late U.N. Chief Secretary Dag Hammarskjöld who died in an air crash in 1961, to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. This 50-storey skyscraper is not however, strictly spoken, located along that street portion, rather than on the west side of Second Avenue.

Nevertheless, along with the 100 U.N. Plaza, 860-870 U.N. Plaza and 1 & 2 U.N. Plaza, and the nearby Dag Hammarskjold apartment tower, the 191.5 m tall, dark glass tower with visual references to the Seagram Building, is another landmark named after the nearby United Nations headquarters.

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THE EXXON BUILDING (1251 Sixth Ave.)
[Harrison, Abramovitz & Harris]

was built in 1967-1971 as the second building in the Rockefeller Center Extension across Sixth Avenue, with the Exxon oil company as the main occupant.

The first plans for the three new office towers, eventually called the Exxon, McGraw-Hill and Celanese buildings, were made in 1963 by Harrison and Abramovitz. The "XYZ" plan arranged the buildings around a large sunken central plaza (with entrances to the new buildings, as well as the Rockefeller Center concourse), with the centermost one placed north-south, at right angles with the established Manhattan gridline. In the realized plan, however, all the buildings were placed east-west on adjacent blocks.

Due to the buildings' excess bulk, as opposed to the allowances given by zoning, the western ends of the plots were to be used as north-south public promenades running through each block.

The 54-storey Exxon building occupies the plot opposite the GE Building, and its vertically accentuated form rises to the height of 228.5 m, being the second-tallest building in the whole Rockefeller Center. Wrapping around the western portion of the building is a seven-storey base. The building houses 195,200 m² of office space.

The vertical facade striping consists of narrow limestone-clad piers as vertical structural members, with a similar structural system used on the other buildings within the new complex. The windows and opaque spandrels form continuous glass stripes -- an automatic washing machine that slides down the facade is used in washing the windows (the windows of the bottom six, seven floors are washed from scaffolding by hand).

Facing Sixth Avenue, there is a sunken plaza with a large pool and fountains as well as trees and the lifelike bronze statue Out to Lunch, of the same series as the one outside the ex-Union Carbide Building.

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[Harrison, Abramovitz & Harris]

was built in 1972 next to the Exxon Building in the Rockefeller Center Extension.

The McGraw-Hill publishing company had studied the possibility of expanding to a planned new office building above the Port Authority Bus Terminal expansion on 42nd Street -- next to the company's current Art Deco premises. Because of the then-questionable status of 42nd Street the plan was dropped and the company occupied two-thirds of its new 241,500 m² namesake building in Rockefeller Center instead.

The 205.5 m tall building has its piers clad in red granite. Around the west side of the 51-storey tower is a seven-storey base, behind which runs the landscaped through-block public passageway, necessitated by the city authorities for all the Extension buildings.

The 35-meter setback from Sixth Avenue accommodates a sunken plaza dominated by the 15-meter abstract steel sculpture Sun Triangle by Athelstan Spilhaus. The original plan for a planetarium, accessible from the plaza, was dropped, and the space was occupied by the long-lived slide show "New York Experience" instead.

The lobby is clad in dark red terazzo and red marble and decorated with aphorisms from Plato and John F. Kennedy(!).

On the western portion of the building site is the McGraw-Hill's contribution to the through-block Extension promenades, most notable by its waterfall wall, with a transparent plexiglass tunnel leading through (image).

In September 2002, McGraw-Hill set its 45 percent interest in the building for sale, expecting to fetch up to $700 million despite the minority stake to Rockefeller Group's, which also has a veto on any new owner. (As of September 2002, along with the 46,500 m² of space at the namesake building, McGraw-Hill occupies 46,500 m² at the 2 Penn Plaza and 93,000 m²at the 55 Water Street.) In December 2003, the stake was finally sold to the co-owner Rockefeller Group for $450 million. The publishing company's tenantship deal in the building is to extend until 2020.

Rockefeller Center map | image
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lo-go © e t dankwa 29 June 2010