While the Brutalist architecture of the MetLife Building, formerly the Pan Am Building, makes this 59-story skyscraper stand out among Midtown’s many tall towers, its large sign touting its namesake makes it easy for all to identify. Beginning this week, the insurance company will replace the massive letters with a brand new typeface, as Crain’s reported. The installation of the new, more modern logo will be the first time the building’s sign has changed since 1993 when 15- and 18-foot-long letters spelling out MetLife replaced Pan Am’s sign. Additionally, the firm’s new corporate logo–made more colorful in an attempt to shift their marketing strategy along with a new tagline “Navigating life together”–is being installed on the tower’s east side.
pan am building
Perhaps the most detested Midtown skyscraper by the public, this huge tower has nevertheless always been a popular building with tenants for its prime location over Grand Central Terminal and its many views up and down Park Avenue. It is also one of the world’s finest examples of the Brutalist architecture, commendable for its robust form and excellent public spaces, as well as its excellent integration into the elevated arterial roads around it.
However, there is no argument that it is also immensely bulky with a monstrous height. As shown in the photograph ahead, to its north, the building completely overshadows the Helmsley Building, an iconic product of Warren & Wetmore’s Terminal City complex. The pyramid-topped Helmsley Building once straddled the avenue with remarkable grace, and as one of the city’s very rare, “drive-through” buildings, it was the great centerpiece of Park Avenue. But by shrouding such a masterpiece in its shadows, the Pan Am Building (today the MetLife building) desecrated a major icon that will unfortunately never recover from such a contemptible slight on a prominent site.