Preservation Issues

Distinguished Mid-century Modern Building to be Demolished - Conservancy Seeks Designation

-270 Park Avenue

-270 Park Avenue

Our Letter Urging Designation


February, 2018

he Conservancy again urged the Landmarks Commission (see letter) to designate the former Union Carbide Building, as current owner JP Morgan Chase publicized its plans to demolish the tower at 270 Park Avenue, just north of Grand Central Terminal. 270 Park, a 52-story, 700-foot-tall tower from the mid-century era, is set to be replaced with a 70-story, 1,200-foot “supertall” skyscraper. The new building would be the first to take advantage of the East Midtown rezoning, which allows substantially larger structures in the area around Grand Central.

This Modern tower is one of a list of 16 buildings that the Conservancy, Historic Districts Council, and Municipal Art Society submitted jointly in November 2013, requesting designation. While we were pleased to see eight of them designated as individual landmarks, we noted throughout the East Midtown rezoning public review process that the remainder of the buildings on the list would face severe development pressure, and now, 270 Park Avenue will be the first loss.

This building well represents Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill’s mid-century portfolio, and is recognized to be the work of Natalie de Blois, one of the few women architects of this era. It was called out in the 2013 East Midtown rezoning Draft Environmental Impact Statement as “one of the City’s great modern buildings,” and “a natural evolution in the new corporate architecture that started with Lever House and the Seagram Building … it marked the end of that short-lived but graceful clean-cut era as it was followed by many vastly inferior imitators.”

We appreciate that JP Morgan Chase wants to stay in the City, but we have to believe that there are alternatives that would allow them to do so, without demolishing this building. Despite alterations to the plaza, 270 Park Avenue retains its form and proportions, hallmarks of its style. Losing this tower would diminish our understanding of the evolution of Modern corporate architecture along Park Avenue, and in New York as a whole.

We have not received a response from the Landmarks Commission.