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Old Posted Oct 18, 2012, 1:41 PM
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Unveiling Competing Designs for 425 Park, David Levinson Says He Will Not Wait for Midtown Rezoning

By Matt Chaban
October 18, 2012

With the choice of four of the world’s greatest architects, how could David Levinson ever settle on just one to build a new tower at 425 Park Avenue? “That’s my next job, to find three more sites so I can build all these buildings,” Mr. Levinson joked, seated at a conference table inside his sleek white offices on 57th Street on Monday. He was surrounded by renderings and models by Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers, Rem Koolhaas and the winning architect Norman Foster.

“For us, it was really a blend of what’s the right concept for Park Avenue, a place that has not had a new building for almost 50 years, an avenue that is quite possibly the most important commercial boulevard in New York City, quite possibly the United State, and what is the place of a new build down the street from Seagrams and Lever House, two of the greatest buildings ever built,” Mr. Levinson explained. “We had to determine for that setting what’s the right firm. So really, it’s a blend of the concept and the firm we can work with.”

Mr. Levinson emphasized that this was not a traditional architecture competition, where he was selecting a design so much as a firm. He acknowledged that Lord Norman Foster had a head start, but as the competition got underway, that choice became harder to make. “Things we knew early on about the Foster organization, it’s a very deep bench with a great deal of knowledge about office buildings,” Mr. Levinson said. “There is an emphasis on function, the techtonic aspect, but also an emphasis on form, how it fits into the Park Avenue context and makes an impact.”

It is a challenging commission since all the firms were given the task of peeling back 75 percent of the current boxy building that sits at 425 Park Avenue, then building back up from the base that remained. This was part of a zoning quirk that were Mr. Levinson to demolition the entire building, he would actually be forced to build something smaller than the current building, about 500,000 square feet compared to 650,000. Mr. Levinson is eagerly awaiting the Midtown East rezoning, which might remove certain impediments to his project, like a better base to the building, but he also admitted that he does not expect to build an even bigger building, even though the new zoning would allow it, up to 24 FAR, compared to the 18 FAR the building currently has (current zoning only allows 15 FAR, but since the building was built before the zoning was revised in 1961, it is bigger than that).

“We are building a bespoke office building,” Mr. Levinson explained. “I don’t think we need to go much bigger than what we have now. Around Grand Central, bigger might work, but this is the Plaza District, this is a bespoke office building, and I believe this is the right size for us.”

Richard Rogers

Zaha Hadid

Rem Koolhaas

Resized images...

The Rogers design is the least exciting, but I think I would have liked the other two...

Updated with more renderings....


Rem Koolhas


Zaha Hadid

NEW YORK. World's capital.

“Office buildings are our factories – whether for tech, creative or traditional industries we must continue to grow our modern factories to create new jobs,” said United States Senator Chuck Schumer.

Last edited by NYguy; Oct 18, 2012 at 2:09 PM.
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