(between 37th & 38th Streets)
Developer: Hammerson Property Corporation
Architect: Brennan Beer Gorman Architects
By Carter B. Horsley
The first new office building to be built on a full
blockfront on Fifth Avenue south of 42nd Street since the Empire
State Building, this 30-story project is a nice, clean-cut and
Obviously, its architects sought to pay proper
homage to the avenue's superb setback towers several blocks north
of 42nd Street while adopting a rather calm and cool Post-Modern
adaptation of the Art Deco aesthetic.
The architects have also made the best of a
ridiculous zoning situation that resulted in a very unnecessary,
though fairly attractive, plaza on West 37th Street. The building
is relatively innocuous except that it blocks the sensational
vistas of the Empire State Building from the employee's open rooftop
dining area atop Lord & Taylor, the department store on the
avenue across 38th Street.
The area south of 42nd Street on the avenue
had fallen on bad times after World War II as fashion- conscious
shoppers concentrating much of their spending further north on
the avenue. This building, therefore, strongly helps anchor the
revival of the 34th to 42nd Street stretch started by the Republic
National Bank (see The City Review article)
and the splendid new office tower at 461 Fifth Avenue (see The City Review article), diagonally
across from one another at 40th Street.
The polished red granite and glass facades
are very adroitly handled here to create an interesting texture
that emphasizes verticality while its reflectivity tends to lessens
its massive bulk.
Despite the fine modulations of the form, the
building's granite should probably have been left rough to give
it more substantiality.
Fortunately, almost all of the first two retail
floors were rented to a computer store, CompUSA, a much needed
facility in midtown and a much better retail tenant than many
other nearby buildings have.
The developers, who are English, have done
a good job here. It has always been an historical fluke that the
Empire State Building has not been surrounded by other tall buildings.
This 540,000-square-foot building, of course, is much smaller
than its famous neighbor to the south and wisely does not compete
with it and it is certainly one of the better newer buildings
on the avenue.