(Between 53rd & 54th Streets)
Developer: Tishman Speyer Properties
Architect: Swanke Hayden & Connell Architects
By Carter B. Horsley
This very impressive, polished red granite skyscraper,
shown at the right, greatly reinforced the renaissance of the
northern end of Madison Avenue led by the former I.B.M. and the
former A.T.&T. (now SONY) buildings a couple of blocks further
Perhaps its best gesture of civility towards
the avenue is its tiered roofline that steps down, in two slightly
slanted steps, towards Madison Avenue, a very unusual and attractive
top that unfortunately is not very visible from the street not
only because the building is 43 stories high, but also because
its facades are highly reflective and the top often seems to disappear
into the sky. Surprisingly, the architects did not angle a couple
of windows on the top floors to reflect the sculpted outline of
the roof, which would have been a nice touch.
This is a partially slanted building, of course,
and one of the more successful in large part because it occupies
a full blockfront on the avenue. A major criticism often levied
against the city's most famous sloped building, 9 West 57th Street,
was that because it was not free-standing it broke with the street
wall and was therefore unfriendly to its adjoining neighbors exposing
their not-meant-to-be-seen ugly sides.
Unlike both 9 West 57th Street and its sister
building, 1114 Avenue of the Americas facing Bryant Park, both
designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, this building does
not have its slant or slope end abruptly in a gutter at the second-story.
Here there is no gutter and the design suffers a bit because of
the lack of transition. The upper end of the slant works much
better about a third of the way up the building. The slant is
fairly steep and opens up a lot of "light and air" simply
because of the size of the building.
This project involves one of the city's celebrated
"holdouts," Reidy's, an American-Irish restaurant that
did not want to relocate and negotiated being able to stay open
and have the building erected around it while also getting a small
expansion. The pleasant, jovial and modestly priced restaurant
protrudes about 10 feet out from the middle of the building on
East 54th Street and its history one of the happier holdout stories,
although a few years after the tower was completed the restaurant
closed and was replaced by a brewery restaurant, which retained
the extruded building element. The brewery lasted a few years
and then was replaced by a "bistro."
In 2006, the building planned to change the
seating arrangement in its south plaza to provide for a small
outdoor cafe for a restaurant at that location.