Tag Archives: 1974

Solow Building

The Solow Building, also known as 9 West 57th Street, is one of those “love it or hate it” buildings. It’s bold and innovative, meeting New York’s setback zoning requirements with a dramatic swoosh, like the Nike logo. And that’s the problem, say critics – it ruins the block’s cohesiveness, like a 50-story black and white scar.

There’s no denying that the building, taken by itself, is among New York’s most recognizable buildings. Only one other building – the W.R. Grace Building on 42nd Street, by the same architect – looks anything like it.

Since completion in 1974, one major change was made to Solow Building’s 57th Street entry. The escalator bank was replaced with stairs leading down to a restaurant, “8-1/2,” and enclosed in glass. Look to the building’s W 58th Street side for an idea of the “before.”

Solow Building Vital Statistics
  • Location: 9 W 57th Street, just off Fifth Avenue
  • Year completed: 1974
  • Architect: Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
  • Floors: 50
  • Style: Postmodern
Solow Building Suggested Reading

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Grace Building

The W. R. Grace Building is another example of “love it or hate it” architecture. Like near-twin Solow Building (9 W 57th Street) also designed by Gordon Bunshaft, the Grace Building’s swooping facades break up the “street walls” in front and back. If only the building were on a block by itself…

In a sense this is Bunshaft’s revenge: This is the rejected facade treatment that Bunshaft had first proposed for the Solow Building!

Grace Building Vital Statistics
Grace Building Recommended Reading

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