$100M restoration of Midtown’s iconic Lever House skyscraper has begun

January 25, 2022

Rendering of the updated Lever House. Image credit: Brookfield Properties

Park Avenue’s iconic Lever House tower is being redeveloped under the architectural guidance of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), the building’s original architects, according to an announcement by the building’s owners, WatermanClark and Brookfield Properties. The Midtown architectural landmark was completed in 1952 as soap company Lever Brothers’ U.S. headquarters. SOM will be helming the restoration seven decades after they first designed the building at 390 Park Avenue.

When it was completed, the building’s design was boldly innovative for its time–it was among the first buildings in the U.S. to feature a glass curtain wall facade, and it served as a model for modern skyscraper construction in the decades that followed. The facade and the building’s slender tower along its north end allow for sunlight to reach all of its floors. Its podium rests above stainless steel columns, allowing for important public space on the ground level. Lever House was one of only 50 of the world’s buildings to receive a Twenty-five Year Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

SOM was also involved in the replacement of the building’s glass curtain wall in 2001.

Chris Cooper, design partner at SOM, said in a statement: “Lever House is one of our crown jewels, and we are honored to steward this emblem of Modernism into the future. Our team revisited the site 20 years ago to carefully replace the building’s curtain wall, and we view this next phase of retrofitting as the completion of its restoration. We look forward to enhancing its performance while respecting its rich heritage and ushering it into a new chapter.”

The 260,000-square-foot, 22-story building became one of the first modern buildings, and the newest, to be designated a New York City landmark when it received the designation in 1982. According to The Architect’s Newspaper, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) moved to add the building to its list because of their concern that it might be replaced with a larger skyscraper. LPC approved the renovations last July.

The $100 million revitalization project will bring the building into the 21st-century with updates to its ground-floor public plaza and lobby. The building’s third-floor roof terraces overlooking Park Avenue will be joined by a tenant-only club with a lounge, restaurant, and conference venue.

Many of the building’s original details will be restored, and mechanical systems will be updated according to the highest wellness and sustainability standards. Renovations are expected to be finished in early 2023.

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