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Wien was born in Manhattan, New York City, and received his bachelor's degree from Columbia College in 1925, and his law degree from Columbia Law School in 1927. In 1929, he founded the law firm that became Wien & Malkin, a leading national law firm specializing in real estate law. Wien & Malkin no longer exists and has become Empire State Realty Trust (NYSE: ESRT), a publicly traded real estate investment trust, and Malkin Holdings.
Wien served as the chairman of the Board of Trustees at Brandeis University; chairman of The New York Federation of Jewish Philanthropies; and vice chairman of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, WNET/Channel 13, the Institute for International Education, and the United States Association for the United Nations.
He was also a trustee of Columbia University from 1966 to 1972.
Wien was a recipient of the Alexander Hamilton Medal, the highest award given by Columbia to an alumnus.
Wien created real estate syndication, permitting individuals for the first time to invest in major commercial buildings. He led acquisition/ownership of more than 40 such buildings, including The Empire State Building; One Grand Central Place (60 East 42nd Street); 250 West 57th Street; 120 Broadway; 200 Fifth Avenue; 1350, 1359, 1385 and 1400 Broadway; 501 Seventh Avenue; 25 Broad Street; 16 John Street; 120 William Street; and 19 Rector Street.
- Doctor of Laws: Columbia University, Brandeis University, Long Island University, Fairfield University, St. John's University
- other honorary degrees: Canisius College and The Juilliard School
Named after Lawrence Wien
- Wien Hall: a dormitory at Columbia University
- Wien International Scholarship Program: Scholarship instituted for international students at Brandeis University; over 800 students have attended Brandeis on such scholarships since 1958
- The main reading room at Butler Library at Columbia University
- Lawrence A. Wien Stadium: Stadium located at the northern tip of Manhattan and home of the Columbia University Lions football team
- Wien Soccer Stadium at Columbia University
- Wien Professorship of Real Property Law at Columbia Law School
- Wien National Scholarship Program at Columbia Law School, awarded annually to students from each of the 11 Federal Circuit Court jurisdictions
- Wien Faculty Building at Brandeis University
- Wien Walk: Pathway running from the Central Park to the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan
- Wien Walk 2 at Lincoln Center
- Columbia Wien Prize in Social Responsibility