(Formerly the Loew's New York Hotel and originally the Summit
569 Lexington Avenue
(S.W. corner at 51st Street)
Developer: Loew's Corporation
Architect: Morris Lapidus and Harle & Liebman
By Carter B. Horsley
Morris Lapidus gained international fame for
his Fontainebleu Hotel in Miami Beach and this was his first major
New York project.
By Miami standards, this would be attractive,
neither too garish nor too monumental.
By New York standards, it is awkward, ungainly
and rather outré.
But since Manhattan thrives on its chaotic
heritage, this in reality was a rather brave attempt to introduce
some new geometry into midtown's rigid grid and a pioneer precursor
of bolder experiments such as the sloping skyscraper at 9 West
57th Street (see The City Review article),
or the later cut-out massing of the nearby office towers at 599
Lexington Avenue (see The City Review article)
and CitiCorp Center (see The City Review
article), or the very strange massing of Helmut Jahn's tower
(see The City Review article) further
south on the avenue just to the north of the Chrysler Building
(see The City Review article).
Historically, then, Lapidus probably deserves
credit for laying the foundation for the avenue's eclectic mix
of buildings and for trying to forge a new high-rise, here a mid-rise,
aesthetic in midtown.
Indeed, one year later, Lapidus designed the
bent form of the Sheraton Center on Seventh Avenue between 52nd
and 53rd Streets.
Interestingly, the same year that this was
built a much larger and free-standing curved project, Chatham
Green Apartments, designed by Kelly & Gruzen, was built at
185 Park Row near Chinatown downtown. There the curves were more
pronounced although interrupted by protruding rectilinear elevator
Sadly, this building does not extend all the
way to Third Avenue, or even to 50th Street. Nevertheless, the
51st Street frontage is quite grand in its rather stretched, open
"S" curve and the facade patterning with windows tucked
between protruding white-brick masonry elements larger than the
windows is quite strong.
The problem here is not the form, although
the curve is rather weak, but the color. The sea-blue-green color
of the nonwhite portions of the facade is too bland.
In recent years, the entrance and avenue frontage
have been improved somewhat.
A jolly, modest building, then, and a welcome
surprise in the city's grid.
The hotel changed hands and is now known as
A company controlled by Robert L. Johnson, the founder of the Black
Entertainment Television network, has cut a $335 million deal for a Midtown
hotel known for its striking architecture, according to a January 18, 2010 article at wsj.com.
The upscale Doubletree Metropolitan Hotel is the third hotel that Mr.
Johnson's RLJ Development has bought in Manhattan since 2008. He also bought the
Hilton Garden Inn at 63 W. 35th St. and the Fashion 26 Hotel at 152 W. 26th St.
for more than $100 million each.