The Lipstick Building – officially named “53rd at Third” – is New York’s most distinctive architecture; its shape and color are impossible to confuse with any other skyscraper.
The developer, Gerald D. Hines Interests, asked for a shape that would stand out – and make “every office a corner office.” Hines, incidentally, was also the developer of curvilicious One Jackson Square and flare-topped 425 Lexington Avenue.
Architect Philip Johnson likely didn’t need much encouragement – he designed the Sony Building (originally AT&T headquarters), nicknamed the “Chippendale Building” for its massive split pediment roofline.
The rationale for such a dramatic and expensive building (polished red granite doesn’t come cheap) was to attract high-rent tenants to the then (1986) less-desirable neighborhood. Apparently that strategy didn’t quite work: the building’s owners went bankrupt in 2010.
Although the so-called Lipstick Building is best known for its 34-story elliptical telescoping shaft, there’s a nine-story box behind the shaft that is also part of the site. The box for the lipstick?
Of historical note: This is where Bernie Madoff made off with $65 billion. His companies leased the 17th through 19th floors.
Lipstick Building Vital Statistics
- Location: 885 Third Avenue at E 53rd Street
- Year completed: 1986
- Architect: John Burgee Architects with Philip Johnson
- Floors: 34
- Style: Postmodern
Lipstick Building Recommended Reading
- Wikipedia entry (Lipstick Building)
- Wikipedia entry (Philip Johnson)
- Wikipedia entry (John Burgee)
- Architect magazine Lipstick Building Honors its Designer (September 21, 2012)
- Galinsky Lipstick Building listing
- The City Review critique
- Philip Johnson | Alan Ritchie Architects project page
- The New York Times ARCHITECTURE VIEW; A Man Who Lives in Two Glass Houses (October 17, 1993) (Philip Johnson Profile)
- Hines (developer) website