Modernist structure last item designated of the buildings identified in Landmarks’ East Midtown Initiative. On December 6, 2016, the Landmarks Perseveration Commission voted to designate the former Citicorp Center and St. Peter’s Church, at 601 Lexington Avenue, an individual City landmark. The complex comprises of a 59-story office tower, a smaller office and retail building, and a church, as well as a public plaza and open-air concourse. Completed in 1978 to designs by Hugh Stubbins & Associates, in collaboration with Emery Roth & Sons, the modernist complex is best known for its tower’s roof, cut off at a 45-degree angle.
The Center was added to Landmarks’ calendar as part of the Greater East Midtown Initiative. The other eleven items identified by Landmarks as part of a Mayoral initiative to strengthen the area as a commercial core were designated at its November 22nd meeting.
The tower is set on four 115-foot pylons, with the tower cantilevered above at the corners. The main shaft of the tower is faced in alternating ribbons of tinted windows and polished aluminum panels. The church, at the corner of 54th Street, is designed in a prismatic form with sloping granite walls. The church is famed for its jazz services.
The complex was created using zoning incentives for the creation of public space. The sunken plaza beneath the tower was created partially to improve subway connections, and the site also includes an open-air concourse. These public spaces remain under the jurisdiction of City Planning. A new owner acquired the complex in 2001, and it was renamed “601 Lexington Avenue.”
When Landmarks held a hearing on seven of the Midtown items on September 13, 2016, preservationists expressed support for designation, as did the pastor of St. Peter’s Church, Amandus Derr. Landmarks Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said that the complex’s majority owners, Boston Properties, had also communicated their support for landmarking to the Commission.
At the December meeting, commissioners voted unanimously to make the site an individual City landmark. Chair Srinivasan called the tower “one of the great icons from the 1970s,” that helped “establish a new vocabulary” for high-rise structure. Srinivasan said that the landmarked site, along with the other eleven recently designated buildings, would serve to illustrate the history of a neighborhood as it continues to embrace change.
LPC: Former Citicorp Center and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, 601 Lexington Avenue, Manhattan (LP-2582) (Dec. 6, 2016).
By: Jesse Denno (Jesse is a full-time staff writer at the Center for NYC Law).