The Solow Building from 5th Avenue and 59th Street
|Location||9 West 57th Street
New York City, New York
|Roof||689 ft (210 m)|
|Design and construction|
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
The Solow Building, located at 9 West 57th Street, is a Manhattan skyscraper built in 1974 and designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. It is located just west of Fifth Avenue between the 57th and 58th Street, next to the Bergdorf Goodman department store and the Plaza Hotel. At 50 stories and 689 ft (210 m) in height, the building's only nearby competitor by height is the GM Building, located one block north and east. Floors above the 23rd floor offer an unobstructed view of northern Manhattan and a complete view of Central Park and The Plaza Hotel.
A notable feature is the concave vertical slope of its north and south facades, facing 57th and 58th Street. This is similar to another Bunshaft designed building, the 630 ft (190 m) W. R. Grace Building, where Bunshaft used the initial, rejected façade design for the Solow Building.
The building is named after Sheldon Solow, the real estate developer whose company built the building.
The building is owned by billionaire Sheldon Solow, who in the 1960s commissioned architect Gordon Bunshaft to build the tower. The building is privately managed and tenancy is held by Sheldon Solow's company.
Layout and architecture
The first floor of the building features a gallery of the Sheldon Solow's collection, including works by Franz Kline, Matisse, and Giacometti, among other artists. Though managed under the non-profit Solow Art and Architecture Foundation, the gallery is perpetually closed and not open to the public.
The concave vertical slope of its facade is similar to another of Bunshaft's creations, the W.R. Grace Building, which was also built in 1974. The initial, rejected design of the Solow building was used in the design for the Grace Building.
Rental fees at the Solow Building are amongst the most expensive in Manhattan. The Solow Building Company occupies a permanent lease of the top floor. Notable tenants include Chanel and private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (42nd fl.), Apollo Management (43rd/48th fl.), Silver Lake Partners (32nd fl.), Providence Equity Partners (49th fl.), and Highland Capital Management (38th fl.).
Several law firms and hedge funds occupy a majority of the remaining space, including Ruane, Cunniff & Goldfarb (50th fl.), Och-Ziff Capital Management (39th fl.), Tiger Global Management (35th fl.), Highbridge Capital Management (27th fl.), and Coatue Management (25th fl.). The corporate offices of Chanel (44th fl.) and Avis Budget Group (37th fl.) are also located in the building.
The building features an underground parking garage, retail space (on the north side bordering 58th Street), an underground space occupied by the Brasserie 8½ restaurant, a 2-floor trading area on floors 2-3, a newsstand in the lobby, and 24 high-speed elevators subdivided into sets of floors.
In 1971, Avon Products rented 21 floors, and then quickly added four additional floors. The building was soon being referred to as "the Avon building" (a title that persists and can still cause confusion). Williams Real Estate, the broker that brought Avon to the deal, moved to claim a commission. Cushman & Wakefield, which held a contract with Solow as the building's exclusive rental agent, claimed that they were also owed a commission. Solow refused to pay either, so both sued. After a long jury trial in State Supreme Court, during which the greed of each side was on display, Solow was ordered to pay commissions of $150,000 to Cushman & Wakefield and $1.7 million to Williams, the largest such award in New York real estate history. An interesting moment in the trial came when architect Gordon Bunshaft explained the key role played by neoprene gaskets around large glass plates in creating the building's sleek look.
In popular culture
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- The large red sculpture of the digit 9 in front of the building was included in the project as a response to the complaints that the building's sloping reflecting walls revealed unappealing sides of the neighboring historic buildings that were previously obscured. The brightly colored sculpture was to distract the eyes of passersby from noticing these walls. This famous New York sculpture was designed by graphic artist Ivan Chermayeff.
- The restaurant Brasserie 8½ was featured on the show Sex and the City.
- Chandler Bing, a character from the sitcom Friends, worked in this building during the series.
- Namesake of the Nine West shoe store chain.
- In Superman, a jewel thief is apprehended by Superman while scaling the side of the building while wearing suction cups on his hands and knees.
- Featured in the film Zoolander with a giant computer generated M, which served as Mugatu's fashion headquarters.
- In the film Cloverfield, the monster's hand slides down the facade of the building when knocked down momentarily by a carpet bombing run.
- In the film Lost in America, the final scene where Albert Brooks's character David Howard meets advertising executive Brad ("This little town car...Will drive you away...") occurs in front of this building.
- Was featured in the film Bride Wars behind the "Plaza Hotel".
- The back cover of the 1978 Michael Franks album Burchfield Nines features a photograph of Franks standing by the large red sculpture 9.
- "Solow Building". CTBUH Skyscraper Database.
- Solow Building at Emporis
- Zimmer, Lori (28 May 2015). "PERPETUALLY CLOSED GALLERY". art-nerd.com. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
- "W. R. Grace Building". Emporis. Retrieved 2010-08-31.
- GM Building takes lead in commercial rents. The Real Deal, July 2006
- Vacancies at a Fancy Address, 9 West
- Court of Appeals decision in Williams v. Solow, 1976.
- "Broker Wins Big Judgment on Commissions," New York Times, Nov. 4, 1973.
- Carter Horsley, "9 West 57th Street," The City Review, Dec. 25, 2003.
- Filming the catburglar and officer Mooney at 9 West 57th. Street's Solow Building.
Media related to Solow Building at Wikimedia Commons
- Pictures of the Solow Building
- Emporis Page
- Carter Horsley's History and Critique
- Dispute between Solow Company and Banc of America Securities
- Solow causes Vacancies