Solow Building

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Solow Building
Solow Building New York August 2012.jpg
The Solow Building from 5th Avenue and 59th Street
General information
Type Commercial offices
Location 9 West 57th Street
New York City, New York
Completed 1974
Owner Sheldon Solow
Roof 689 ft (210 m)[1]
Technical details
Floor count 50
Lifts/elevators 34
Design and construction
Architect Gordon Bunshaft
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
The Solow Building

The Solow Building, located at 9 West 57th Street, is a Manhattan skyscraper designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill's Gordon Bunshaft and built in 1974. It is located just west of Fifth Avenue, sandwiched between the 57th and 58th Street, next to such prominent buildings as the Bergdorf Goodman department store and the Plaza Hotel. Consisting of 50 stories and 689 ft (210 m),[1] the building's only competitor by height in the neighborhood is the GM Building, located one block north and east. Floors above the 23rd floor offer a virtually unobstructed view of northern Manhattan and a complete view of Central Park and The Plaza Hotel.

One of the notable aesthetic attributes of the building is the concave vertical slope of its north and south facades, on 57th and 58th Street. This is similar to another of Bunshaft's creations, the 192-metre tall W. R. Grace Building, which is no coincidence, as he had used the initial, rejected façade design for the Solow Building in his design for the Grace Building.[2]

The name of the building is attributed to Sheldon Solow, a real estate mogul who invested in the construction of the building.


The building is owned by billionaire Sheldon Solow. In the 1960s, he commissioned architect Gordon Bunshaft to build the tower. The building is privately managed and tenancy is held by Mr. Solow's estate.


The Solow Building features some of the most expensive rents in Manhattan. The Solow Building Company occupies a permanent lease of the top floor of the skyscraper. Well-known tenants include the U.S. Headquarters of the French Corporate and Investment Bank Natixis 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.[3][4][5]


The building features an underground parking garage, currently available retail space on the north side bordering 58th Street, an underground space occupied by the Brasserie 8½ restaurant, a 2 floor trading floor on floors 2-3, a newsstand in the lobby, and 24 high-speed elevators subdivided into sets of floors.

Name issues[edit]

In 1971, Avon Products, Inc. rented 21 floors, quickly expanding to occupy 25 floors, and the building was soon being referred to as "the Avon building" (a moniker that persists and can still cause confusion nearly 40 years later). In 1975, the building's owner, Sheldon Solow, sued Avon for misappropriating the building's trademark without compensation. Although Avon moved out of the building in 1997, in May 2005, the lawsuit finally went to trial and was subsequently dismissed two months later.[6]

In popular culture[edit]

"The Red 9" in front of the Solow Building
  • 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.[7]
  • 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.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Media related to Solow Building at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 40°45′49.90″N 73°58′29.26″W / 40.7638611°N 73.9747944°W / 40.7638611; -73.9747944