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Former Citicorp Center at 601 Lexington Avenue Designated a City Landmark

The former Citicorp Center (aka Citigroup Center) at 601 Lexington Avenue as seen in December 2015. Photo by Evan Bindelglass.The former Citicorp Center (aka Citigroup Center) at 601 Lexington Avenue as seen in December 2015. Photo by Evan Bindelglass.

Two weeks ago, the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated 11 of its 12 calendared properties in Midtown East as city landmarks, part of its Greater East Midtown Initiative. On Tuesday, the twelfth site received its designation, as the LPC declared the former Citicorp Center, now known as 601 Lexington Avenue, a city landmark.

Located between East 53rd and 54th streets, 601 Lexington Avenue includes the 59-story, 915-foot-tall office building, a six-story retail building, and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. The design was by Hugh Stubbins & Associates, with Emery Roth & Sons.

It is the only item on the Greater East Midtown Initiative from the post-Grand Central Terminal era, and was constructed between 1973 and 1978. At the time, Ada Louise Huxtable called it a “suave blockbuster” and Paul Goldberger saw it as a “remarkably intelligent synthesis of a number of architectural themes.”

The former Citicourp Center, 601 Lexington Avenue. HDC photo

The former Citicorp Center, 601 Lexington Avenue. HDC photo

The office tower, with its easy-to-spot slanted roof, sits atop four 24-square-foot supercolumns that rise over 10 stories in height, allowing for a sunken plaza space that paved the way for the tower to grow even taller. The plaza is one of many in the city known as a POPS, or privately owned public space. It was among the first large buildings in the city to employ energy-saving techniques, and was billed as using 42 percent less energy than similar buildings.

Since 2008, Boston Properties has been the owner of 601 Lexington Avenue. Boston Properties, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), and several preservation groups including the Historic Districts Council and the New York Landmarks Conservancy support the designation.

The former Citicorp Center at 601 Lexington Avenue. Photo by Vitali Ogorodnikov

The former Citicorp Center at 601 Lexington Avenue. Photo by Vitali Ogorodnikov

At the time of its calendaring, LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan called 601 Lexington Avenue her “personal favorite” among the 12 Midtown East properties. At its designation on Tuesday, she called it one of the “great icons of the 1970s” and said it “established a new vocabulary for the New York City skyline.”

The vote to designate was unanimous. Because the building was constructed with additional floor area thanks to the plaza space, a bonus program under the jurisdiction of the City Planning Commission, any changes to the landmark will have to be undertaken with the coordination of the LPC and City Planning.

6 Comments on "Former Citicorp Center at 601 Lexington Avenue Designated a City Landmark"

  1. Nice to see and glad to read its good news, we completely had a new one city landmark.

  2. Finally, this controversial from the beginning but still interesting tower is got what’s have to be deserved, a landmark status, and sure it’s a landmark from it’s very beginning, due for unusual for 1976, sloppy roof. Read about strange things happened with this tower just after being constructed in 1976.

  3. Michael Hamberger | December 7, 2016 at 9:14 am |

    Great news. This was one of just a handful of major building constructed in the aftermath of the mid-70’s recession. It’s angled top and white surface has mad it an icon. It’s indoor atrium, though sadly quiet now with many stores including the recently departed Barnes and Noble closed, is still a far better place to sit with a cup of coffee during our cold winters, than the many outdoor plazas that were created to conform with the 1960 zoning regulations. Its sunken plaza provides one of the most welcoming subway entrances as you walk past the fountain into the combined IND-IRT station that serves the F. M and 6 trains. Along with the Ford Foundation building it has been one of the few buildings under 40 years old to be designated and is well-deserving. Good going LPC – you got this one right.

  4. Why is this building no longer called Citicorp Center? I can see that it was bought years ago but doesn’t the bank still occupy it?

  5. A rare 70s skyscraper of iconic, tasteful design. Its structural history must also be noted. The sloped roof was originally touted to get solar panels and the city and owner should make that a priority. The angle is about right and in an appropriate southwesterly direction.

  6. Unofficially is still called as Citicorp Center by New Yorkers who lived here for years, decades. It’s landmark what’s should be, very interesting complex, pretty modern, and church building is small and ultra modern, looks like a petty animal for Big Giant. And sunken Plaza made this 915 feet tall building looks even taller for extra 15 feet? Remember it was built at time when NYC was in the midst of his worst fiscal crisis, with crime was up and Subway cars painted with graffiti, and city population shrinking to low 7 millions. Now is over 8,5 millions and crime is lowest one within cities of population over 500,000. Subway have a record number of riders, about 6 million daily riders, no longer graffiti painted cars. And former 5th Tallest building in NYC, now barely in first dozen of tallest skyscrapers, but still dominated in Skyline of Midtown, especially from East River. Thumbs Up for this LPC decision!!!

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