Lipstick Building

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Lipstick Building
Lipstick Building - Philip Johnson.jpg
The Lipstick Building
General information
Status Complete
Type Office
Location 885 Third Avenue, Manhattan, New York, United States
Coordinates 40°45′28″N 73°58′08″W / 40.75778°N 73.96889°W / 40.75778; -73.96889Coordinates: 40°45′28″N 73°58′08″W / 40.75778°N 73.96889°W / 40.75778; -73.96889
Completed 1986
Roof 138 m (453 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 34

The Lipstick Building (also known as 53rd at Third) is a 453 foot (138 meter) tall skyscraper located at 885 Third Avenue, between East 53rd Street and 54th Street, across from the Citigroup Center in Manhattan, New York City, United States. It was completed in 1986 and has 34 floors. The building was designed by John Burgee Architects with Philip Johnson.[1] The building receives its name from its shape and color, which resemble a tube of lipstick.

The company that owned the building, Metropolitan 885 Third Avenue LLC, filed for bankruptcy in 2010 after overpaying for the property.


At three levels the Lipstick Building's wall is set back in response to Manhattan's zoning regulation, which requires the building to recede from the street within its spatial envelope, to increase the availability of light at street level. The result is a form that looks as though it could retract telescopically. The shape, which is unusual in comparison to surrounding buildings, uses less space at the base than a regular skyscraper of quadrilateral footprint would use. This provides more room for the heavy pedestrian traffic along Third Avenue.

At the base, the building stands on columns which act as an entrance for a vast post-modern hall. They are two stories high and separate the street from the nine-meter (30 ft) high lobby. Because the elevators and emergency staircases are located to the rear of the building, this area appears hollow.

The exterior of the building is a continuous wall of red enameled Imperial granite and steel. The ribbon windows are surrounded by gray frames. In between floors is a thin red band which recalls the red color of lipstick. The curvature of the building allows light to reflect off the surface at different places.

Notable tenants[edit]

The largest tenant of the Lipstick Building is the law firm Latham & Watkins.

Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities leased the 17th through 19th floors. Madoff operated his $65 billion Ponzi scheme, which came unraveled in 2008, from the 17th floor, which was occupied by no more than 24 employees.[2][3] Goulston & Storrs, a law firm, now occupies the 18th floor.[4]

On 15 July 2011, the New York Times blog "City Room" reported that a very unusual conceptual art exhibit called "14 & 15" had been installed at the Lipstick Building. Occupying the 14th and 15th floors of the building through 31 October 2011, the exhibit presented creative reactions to a typical American office space and the possible lives of the people who once worked there. Participating artists not only brought in their own works and materials - as was the norm in any art gallery in the United States - they also used the extant structures and forgotten possessions of the last tenants to expound the workplace. The firm Latham & Watkins had to give its blessing to the exhibit because one of the firm's receptionists organized the exhibit and the firm controlled the "gallery" space. Moreover, renovations were already planned for the 14th & 15th floors when the exhibit was conceived. Construction for new tenants on the eponymous floors was to begin immediately after the exhibit closed.[5]

In April 2013, the law firm LeClairRyan consolidated its two New York City offices on the 16th floor of the Lipstick Building.

The 20th floor of the Lipstick Building is occupied by the corporate law firm of Reitler Kailas & Rosenblatt.


  1. ^ Goldberger, Paul (January 27, 2005). "Philip Johnson, Architecture's Restless Intellect, Dies at 98". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  2. ^ Henriques, Diana B.; Berenson, Alex (December 14, 2008). "The 17th Floor, Where Wealth Went to Vanish". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  3. ^ Glovin, David; Larson, Erik; Levitt, David M. (July 3, 2009). "Marshals Arrive, Ruth Madoff Leaves as Manhattan Home Is Seized". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Quinlan, Adriane (July 15, 2011). "The Cubicle Is a Canvas at a Midtown Art Show". City Room. Retrieved 2011-07-31. 

External links[edit]