NEW YORK | 380 Madison Avenue | Rebuilding will add 8 new floors
L&L Holdings set to give gloomy 380 Madison Ave. a makeover
By Steve Cuozzo
January 13, 2015
L&L Holding Co., which is transforming 425 Park Ave. with a well-received Norman Foster redesign, is launching a second, larger East Midtown metamorphosis.
By early 2017, gloomy 380 Madison Ave. will be reborn as 390 Madison — a tower bearing no resemblance to today’s Darth Vader-like hulk. Designed by KPF architects, it will be clad in reflective glass, taller and more slender at the top and largely reshaped to reallocate some of its lower-level space to new, upper floors.
On behalf of 380 Madison owner Clarion Partners, L&L is performing a feat that’s very difficult, but not impossible, under 1961 zoning rules — replacing an entire old building with one of the same size in terms of floor area. It won’t be a ground-up project, but an ingenious re-invention incorporating most of the original structure’s hidden bones.
Although 390 Madison will have just under 900,000 square feet — the same as at the empty current building — it will be unrecognizable as the same structure, as shown for the first time above. (By comparison, 425 Park Ave. has 650,000 square feet.)
In what might be the largest “re-massing” of a Manhattan building yet undertaken, the 291-foot tall, 24-story structure will grow to 373 feet in height and 32 stories. The highest portion will be set back and narrower than the current structure, affording better views.
“We are creating this 21st century building that maximizes light, fresh air and collaborative spaces in East Midtown, where it doesn’t exist,” said L&L chairman/CEO and co-founder David Levinson.
The relatively modern-looking, opaque blue-glass curtain wall of 380 Madison Ave. conceals low ceiling heights and antiquated systems. Its bulky, bottom-heavy massing dates from the 1950s, when it went up clad in brown brick.
The glass skin, which British developer Howard Ronson slapped on it in the 1980s, could not stave off galloping obsolescence within.
L&L’s transformation will replace opaque glass and underlying brick with an all-glass curtain wall of transparent, floor-to-ceiling windows and glass spandrels to mark separation of floors.
Two entire floor slabs at lower levels comprising nearly 100,000 square feet, and portions of others, will be removed.
But the “lost” space will be reallocated to eight new floors to be constructed atop the existing 24.
The high floors will boast a 13.5-foot “slab to slab” height, the new standard at projects such as 11 Times Square and 4 World Trade Center. Removal of slabs below will open up the volume to allow for 14.5-foot floor-to-ceiling heights on certain lower floors.
The re-massing will also make room for large outdoor terraces on setback floors as well as high-ceilinged interior spaces suitable for tenant cafés and other amenities. The project is aiming for LEED gold certification. Some 15,000 square feet of retail will include 25-foot ceiling heights.
The project is confidently proceeding with no tenants pre-signed. It aims to address East Midtown’s critical weakness. Despite its proximity to Grand Central Terminal and a wealth of glamorous hotels, stores and restaurants, the area is hobbled by relic office buildings that average 70 years old.
Rezoning the Vanderbilt Avenue corridor, now undergoing city review, would allow one major new planned skyscraper, One Vanderbilt, to go up and perhaps pave the way for rezoning the wider area later on.
But until then, companies requiring state-of-the-art new facilities are being chased south to the World Trade Center or west to Hudson Yards or Brookfield Place — as L’Oreal, Time Warner, Condé Nast, Media Math and Skadden Arps have done or are planning to do.
Remarkably, 390 Madison is to be built entirely as-of-right. It requires no public review, community board hearings, special permits, Landmarks Commission or Planning Department involvement or subsidies. It needs only Department of Buildings permits, many of which have already been issued.
The project exploits a rare loophole in 1961 zoning rules that forbade replacement of most East Midtown buildings of the time with ones of the same size. As at 425 Park Ave., L&L is tapping a little-used provision that allows a building to be redeveloped to the same size as the original — if at least 25 percent of the old structure is preserved.
That typically requires keeping some structural steel and has deterred other developers. But only 18 percent of 380 Madison will be dismantled, Levinson said.
He declined to discuss project costs. Industry sources said Clarion Partners’ total investment — including acquisition, “soft costs” and new construction — might approach as much as $1 billion. L&L has no equity in 390 Madison, but was tapped by Clarion to reconceive, lease and manage the moribund property.
Levinson wouldn’t discuss asking office rents either, except to say that “they would be about 25 percent less than new construction, for what is effectively new construction.” That might work out to an average $100 per square foot, depending on the floor and the amount of space leased.
The KPF design was largely conceived by Gene Kohn working with L&L. Douglas Hocking, a KPF principal, is the lead architect, while L&L’s Jeff Davis is the project construction manager.
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.