General Motors Building (Manhattan)

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General Motors Building
Sherry Netherland Hotel jeh.JPG
General information
Status Complete
Type Offices, retail
Location 767 5th Ave, New York City, NY 10153, USA
Coordinates 40°45′50″N 73°58′21″W / 40.76389°N 73.97250°W / 40.76389; -73.97250Coordinates: 40°45′50″N 73°58′21″W / 40.76389°N 73.97250°W / 40.76389; -73.97250
Construction started 1964
Completed 1968
Owner Boston Properties (60%)[1]
Zhang Xin
Safra family
Height
Roof 705 ft (215 m)
Technical details
Floor count 50
Floor area 1.7 million square feet (160×10^3 m2)[2]
Design and construction
Architect Edward Durell Stone & Associates
Emery Roth & Sons
Developer Cecilia Benattar
Engineer The Office of James Ruderman
Apple Store glass cube at the base of the building
From 59th Street

The General Motors Building is a 50-story, 705 ft (215 m) office tower located at 767 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York City. The building, which is bound by Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue between 59th Street and 58th Street, is one of the few structures in Manhattan to occupy a full city block. With 1,774,000 net leasable square feet,[3] the tower sits on the site of the former Savoy-Plaza Hotel and affords views of Central Park. It was designed in the international style by Edward Durell Stone & Associates with Emery Roth & Sons and completed in 1968.

Currently owned by a joint venture consisting of Boston Properties, Zhang Xin and the Safra banking family, the GM Building remains one of New York's most recognized and expensive office properties. Rents typically exceed $100 per square foot and a transaction in mid-2013 among minority owners valued the building at approximately $3.4 billion.[4]

History[edit]

Design[edit]

General Motors had a strong architectural and design presence in New York at both of its World's Fairs. Here it introduced the Futurama exhibit[A] at the 1939 New York World's Fair. The architecture of this exhibition is attributed to Norman Bel Geddes and was a major piece of Streamline Moderne featuring sinuous ramps, and a guided circuitous route through the exhibition. The design of the new General Motors office building was completed the same year the 1964 New York World's Fair opened. More architecturally experimental than the Fifth Avenue office tower, the General Motors Pavilion, one of the most eye-catching at the World's Fair, was keynoted by an enormous slanting canopy 110 ft (34 m) high, balanced, by some architectural legerdemain, over the entrance. Inside was the Futurama II ride which featured travel via pods and rovers to the moon, under ice and water, to the jungle and desert, the city of tomorrow, and exhibitions of futuristic cars.[5] At General Motors' home in Detroit, many of its buildings had been designed by Albert Kahn including the high-rise Cadillac Place, also known as the "General Motors Building".[6]

Construction on the GM office building began after demolition of the Savoy-Plaza in 1965, and completed in 1968. The building was built and developed by Cecilia Benattar, President and Chief Executive Officer of the North American holdings of the vast British holding company London Merchant Securities PLC. Mrs. Benattar was known as the most sophisticated and toughest woman in real estate. The façade is an expression of unbroken verticality in "glistening white Georgia marble"[7] and sheets of glass. Both architectural firms were prolific skyscraper designers contributing to much of Manhattan's urban fabric; however, the property has been more attractive as a piece of real estate and as a home to its corporate tenants, than it has to architecture critics. Paul Goldberger and Ada Louise Huxtable both wrote negative critical reviews of the building[8][9] and even the first edition of the AIA Guide to New York City (1968), an unabashed apology for International Modernism, noted, "The hue and cry over the new behemoth was based, not on architecture but, rather, first on the loss of the hotel's[B] elegant shopping amenities in favor of automobile salesmanship (an auto showroom is particularly galling at the spot in New York most likely to honor the pedestrian)."[10]

Post-GM[edit]

In 1998, Conseco and Donald Trump, purchased the General Motors Building for $878 million[11][12][13] Trump raised the controversial sunken plaza where few pedestrians had ventured, which had been criticised by Huxtable, and installed his name in four-foot gold letters.[14]

In 2003, the Macklowe Organization purchased the General Motors building for $1.4 billion, the highest price yet paid for a North American office building.[15][16]

In February 2008, due to a credit crisis among lenders, the Macklowe Organization put the GM Building on the market. It sold in May for an estimated $2.8 billion to a joint venture between Boston Properties, Goldman Sachs Real Estate Opportunities Fund (backed by funds from Kuwait and Qatar), and Meraas Capital (Dubai-based real estate private equity firm). It was the largest single asset transaction of 2008.

Its street-level lobby originally featured a showroom for General Motors vehicles. Today, the lobby is FAO Schwarz's flagship toy store, which was featured in the film Big and which won an award for its lighting in 2005.[17]

The building was home to CBS's The Early Show from 1999 to 2012.

Also in the building is the flagship Apple Store, whose entrance is a 32 ft (9.8 m) glass cube that has been likened to the Louvre Pyramid[18] and which allows a descent into the store via glass elevator and spiral staircase. This addition was designed by Apple and the firm of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.[19] Other prominent tenants of the General Motors Building include Estée Lauder Companies, international sports, entertainment & media giant IMG, the hedge fund York Capital Management, the holding company Icahn Enterprises, and the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

A. ^ The namesake of the comic retro-futuro animation series Futurama.
B. ^ The site had contained the Savoy Hotel, with a limestone ground-floor façade and Beaux-Arts classical style that completed the former architectural unity of the Grand Army Plaza.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Glass, Amy. "Dubai firm in New York GM building deal". ArabianBusiness.com. Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  2. ^ Daniels, Lee A. (1984-01-29). "A Major New Landlord in the City". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-15. "In 1982, the General Motors building on Fifth Avenue across from the Plaza Hotel, which has 1,700,000 square feet (160,000 m2), changed hands in an unusual sale leaseback estimated to be worth $500 million." 
  3. ^ Synergy Real Estate Group. "General Motors Building". Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  4. ^ Yu, Hui-yong (2013-06-02). "GM Building Stake Said to Sell to Zhang, Safra Families". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 2014-01-09. 
  5. ^ "General Motors". NYWF64.com. 15 August 2002. Retrieved 2014-07-18. 
  6. ^ General Motors Building National Park Service. Accessed 9 January 2008.
  7. ^ White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot (1968). AIA Guide to New York City (first edition ed.). Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0812931075. 
  8. ^ Goldberger, Paul (1983). On the Rise: Architecture and Design in a Post Modern Age. Times Books. ISBN 978-0812910889. 
  9. ^ Morrone, Francis (May 24, 2007). "Trying to Rescue A Sunken Plaza". The New York Sun. Retrieved 2014-07-18. 
  10. ^ Norval 1968, p. 157.
  11. ^ Bagli, Charles V. (February 20, 2002). "Heavenly Match Becomes Real Estate War Over the G.M. Building". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ Yardley, Jim (May 31, 1998). "Trump Buying The Landmark G.M. Building". The New York Times. 
  13. ^ Ross, George H.; McLean, Andrew James; Trump, Donald J. (February 17, 2006). Trump Strategies for Real Estate: Billionaire Lessons for the Small Investor. John Wiley and Sons. p. 129. ISBN 0-471-73643-0. (subscription required (help)). 
  14. ^ Dunlap, David W. (June 30, 1999). "Commercial Property; Courtyard Is Rising With New Look". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-07-18. 
  15. ^ Bagli, Charles V. (August 30, 2003). "G.M. Building Sells for $1.4 Billion, a Record". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-07-18. 
  16. ^ Misonzhnik, Elaine (September 3, 2003). "Macklowe pays $1.4B for GM building, highest ever paid in North America". Real Estate Weekly. Retrieved 2014-07-18. 
  17. ^ "Lumen Award Winners 2005". Illuminating Engineering Society of North America. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  18. ^ Dunlap, David W. (March 2, 2005). "A Cube in the Land of the Wheel". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  19. ^ Slatin, Peter (May 18, 2006). "Apple's Big Apple Splash". Forbes. Retrieved 2014-07-18. 

External links[edit]