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
TypeCommercial offices
Location9 West 57th Street
New York City, New York
OwnerSheldon Solow
Roof689 ft (210 m)[1]
Technical details
Floor count50
Floor area1,399,997 sq ft (130,064.0 m2)
Design and construction
ArchitectGordon Bunshaft
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
DeveloperSolow Building Corporation
Structural engineerWeidlinger Associates
[1] [2]
The Solow Building

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 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,[1] it is the 71st tallest building in New York. For decades, the building's only nearby competitor in height was the GM Building, located one block north and east. However, since the completion of 432 Park Avenue in 2015, other skyscrapers along nearby Billionaires' Row have risen considerably higher.

Floors above the 23rd floor offer an unobstructed view of northern Manhattan and a complete view of Central Park and The Plaza Hotel. The building is home to many hedge funds and private equity firms with rents of over $100 per square foot ranking among the most expensive in the city. A July 2016 appraisal valued the building at over $3.4 billion, making the property one of the most valuable office buildings in Manhattan.[3]


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 (44th fl.) and private equity firms Sycamore Partners, 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 (40th fl.), Tiger Global Management (35th fl.), Highbridge Capital Management (27th fl.), and Coatue Management (25th fl.). The corporate offices of Avis Budget Group (37th fl.) are also located in the building.[4][5][6] The Wall Street Journal reported on Aug 1st 2018 that Bombardier inc. has signed a lease agreement for 14,000 square feet on the 49th floor.

Architecture and design[edit]

The first floor of the building houses a private gallery of billionaire Sheldon Solow's art collection, including works by Franz Kline, Henri Matisse, and Alberto Giacometti, among others Though managed under the non-profit Solow Art and Architecture Foundation, the gallery is perpetually closed and not open to the public.[7]

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.[8] The sloping facade also evokes the Chase Tower in Chicago.


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.


The building was developed by Sheldon Solow, who named the building after himself and continues to manage and own the building.

Legal issues[edit]

In 1971, Avon Products rented 21 floors, soon increased to 25 floors. The building was shortly 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, sought the commission that they thought had been promised. 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, 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.[9][10] 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.[11]

In popular culture[edit]

"The Red 9" in front of the Solow Building by Ivan Chermayeff
  • 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, the building is used in the scene where a jewel thief is apprehended by Superman while scaling the side of the building while wearing suction cups on his hands and knees.[12]
  • 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.
  • In the HBO original movie Barbarians at the Gate the exterior of the building is prominently featured as the meeting place of F. Ross Johnson, the CEO of RJR Nabisco, Jim Robinson the CEO of American Express and Henry Kravis and George Roberts, the principals of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) to discuss the buyout of RJR Nabisco.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Solow Building". CTBUH Skyscraper Center.
  2. ^ "Solow Building". Skyscraper Center. CTBUH. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
  3. ^ "JPMCC 2016-JP3 Structural & Collateral Term Sheet". SEC. September 14, 2016. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  4. ^ GM Building takes lead in commercial rents. The Real Deal, July 2006
  5. ^ Vacancies at a Fancy Address, 9 West
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "W. R. Grace Building". Emporis. Retrieved August 31, 2010.
  8. ^ Court of Appeals decision in Williams v. Solow, 1976.
  9. ^ "Broker Wins Big Judgment on Commissions," New York Times, Nov. 4, 1973.
  10. ^ Carter Horsley, "9 West 57th Street," The City Review, Dec. 25, 2003.
  11. ^ Filming the catburglar and officer Mooney at 9 West 57th. Street's Solow Building. Archived 2008-11-21 at the Wayback Machine

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