Soon to be largest deliberately demolished tower ever, 270 Park Avenue proposal faces backlash

Posted On Thu, February 22, 2018 By

Posted On Thu, February 22, 2018 By In Major Developments, Midtown East, New Developments

270 Park Avenue via MikePScott’s Flickr

Plans to replace JPMorgan Chase’s current headquarters at 270 Park Avenue with a much taller tower at the same site is facing opposition from architecture and preservation buffs, shortly after the proposal was announced. Not only will the project become the largest intentionally demolished building in history, as YIMBY reported, the landmark-worthy Union Carbide Building was also designed in 1960 by Natalie de Blois, a pioneer of American architecture and one of the few female senior designers at that time. As the first project under the Midtown East rezoning, JPMorgan Chase’s existing 700-foot tall structure will be bulldozed to make way for a tower that will most likely be over 1,200 feet tall.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Natalie de Blois (Senior Designer), Union Carbide Building taken from Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City, May 1961 via BWAF

As a senior designer and associate partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, de Blois is credited with the design of many of the firm’s post-war buildings. Totaling 52 stories and 1.5 million square feet, the Union Carbide headquarters was one of her largest projects, and one of the biggest building erected in New York since before World War II.

Because 270 Park Ave was never designated as a city landmark, it has no protections from demolition. The Landmarks Preservation Commission told Curbed NY: “Prior to the rezoning, the Commission evaluated many buildings in the district including this one. As a result, we prioritized and designated 12 iconic buildings as individual landmarks, but JPMorgan Chase building was not among them.”

A model of what a 1,200-foot-tall 270 Park Ave building might look like via CityRealty

The East Midtown Rezoning plan, approved by the City Council in August, affects 78 blocks around Grand Central, making way for 6.5 million square feet of modern office space and taller buildings. JPMorgan Chase’s new building, expected to measure 2.5 million square feet, will have enough room for about 15,000 employees, compared to the old building’s capacity of just 3,500 employees.

The rezoning allows landmarks, like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, to sell and transfer unused development rights in the rezoned area, with the seller of the air rights required to pay the city a minimum of $61.49 per square foot.

Although the project will be subject to “various approvals,” critics quickly responded on Twitter to the mayor and JPMorgan’s joint announcement.

Ariel Aufgang, the principal at Aufgang Architects, a firm known for its adaptive reuse practices, told 6sqft: “Midtown Manhattan has never before experienced a project of this size and complexity, which will have a profound, long term impact, not just on the City, but, because of its proximity to Grand Central, will have a regional effect in Westchester and Connecticut.”

While JPMorgan Chase has not officially selected a developer for the project, sources told Politico New York on Thursday that Tishman Speyer will likely take the helm. If approved, the new tower is expected to be completed in about five years.



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Neighborhoods : Midtown East

  • wright gregson

    there is something wrong about our economic situation that makes this project possible.

    • Louis E.

      Nonsense.The economics make adding a million more square feet to that location compelling.The same people trying to keep the aging current structure would have been fighting to stop it from getting built 60 years ago.

      The new one will be spectacular.

      • Greg Preservation

        ‘The new one will be spectacular’?
        Do you live or work near any of the impacted areas? Whole regions of the city will shift to accommodate this new construction.

        This will be a criminal waste of building materials. Much, perhaps most of this building will go into landfills. Forget the platitudes the developers will offer about recycling the steelwork. Think instead of all the thousands of tons of non- recyclable sheetrock, plastic, glass, stone, etc.

        Do you have any concept what the population increase will do to city transportation services? The strain on all utility services?

        This re-zoning will make more developers rich. There are acres of wast lands, and their new building must go up here?

        This is an exercise in I’m bigger than you are. It’s usually done in front of urinals.

        • Louis E.

          That exercise is also done in skylines,and is a sign of a city’s vitality.The building materials for the new tower will be put to better use than those in the old.

          • Greg Preservation

            Please address the questions I raised.

            You say ‘The building materials for the new tower will be put to better use than those in the old.’ Perhaps you are correct, but building construction methods have not changed significantly since the old tower was built. Technology yes, building material use, no.

            There will still be an appalling dumping of non-recyclable materials in the city’s waste sites, still an astounding strain on utilities and transportation services.

            There are better locations for this tower, one that does not concentrate an unbelievable number of people in one location, people who even on a staggered dismissal schedule will overwhelm transportation systems.

            This is still arrogance multiplied to an incredible level. There is still a willful disregard for the impact of this tower. The rezoning is geared to allow mega-towers to make mega-bucks.

            The brilliant urban socialist Louis Mumford told me that high rise structures were a symbol of ‘man’s greed and sinfulness..’. I once doubted him. No longer, not since this behemoth was proposed.

          • Louis E.

            Concentrating the highest practical number of people in one location is the very definition of efficient urban land use.Mega-towers are always to be preferred wherever possible.If you don’t get that,you really can’t carry on a rational discussion.



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