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Encyclopedia > Lever House
Lever House
Lever House, New York City
Lever House, New York City
Location 390 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10022
Status Complete
Constructed 19511952
Technical Details
Floor count 21
Architect Skidmore, Owings and Merrill
Contractor George A Fuller

Lever House, designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and located at 390 Park Avenue in New York City, is the quintessential and seminal glass box International Style skyscraper, and holds the distinction of being the first curtain wall in New York City. The building features an innovative courtyard and public space. Most of the headquarters of the corporations on and around Park Avenue adopted this style of building, but none quite matched its sleekness and innovative design. Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building across Park Avenue is arguably equal in quality, but many of the neighboring skyscrapers, mostly by Emery Roth and Sons, are not particularly distinctive. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (768x1024, 200 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Skidmore, Owings and Merrill Twentieth-century architecture of New York City Lever House Architecture in New York City... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (768x1024, 200 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Skidmore, Owings and Merrill Twentieth-century architecture of New York City Lever House Architecture in New York City... Park Avenue in the Upper East Side (2004) Park Avenue runs north and south between Madison Avenue and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan in New York City. ... The Borough of Manhattan, highlighted in yellow, lies between the East River and the Hudson River. ... NY redirects here. ... 1951 (MCMLI) was a common year starting on Monday; see its calendar. ... 1952 (MCMLII) was a Leap year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... Shaklee Terraces, San Francisco, designed in 1982 with a flush aluminum and glass facade and rounded corners. ... Gordon Bunshaft (May 9, 1909–August 6, 1990) was a 20th century architect educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ... Shaklee Terraces, San Francisco, designed in 1982 with a flush aluminum and glass facade and rounded corners. ... Park Avenue in the Upper East Side (2004) Park Avenue (formerly Fourth Avenue) is a wide boulevard that carries traffic north and south in Manhattan in New York City. ... Nickname: Big Apple, Gotham, NYC, City That Never Sleeps, The Concrete Jungle, The City So Nice They Named It Twice Location in the state of New York Coordinates: Country United States State New York Boroughs The Bronx Brooklyn Manhattan Queens Staten Island Settled 1613  - Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) Area    - City... International style can refer to International style in ballroom dancing - see ballroom dance; International style in architecture - see international style. ... Glass curtain wall of the Bauhaus Dessau. ... Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (born Maria Ludwig Michael Mies) (March 27, 1886 - August 17, 1969) was an architect and designer. ... The Seagram Building The Seagram Building is a skyscraper in New York City. ... Emery Roth (1871 – August 20, 1948) was an American architect who built many of the definitive New York City hotels and apartment buildings of the 1920s and 30s, incorporating Beaux-Arts and Art Deco details. ...



The Lever House was built in 1951-1952 to be the American headquarters of the British soap company Lever Brothers. The building featured a glimmering 24-story blue-green heat-resistant glass and stainless steel curtain-wall. The curtain-wall was designed to reduce the cost of operating and maintaining the property. Its curtain-wall is completely sealed with no operating windows. This meant that much less dirt from the city would get into the building. The heat resistant nature of the glass also helped to keep air conditioning costs down. Additionally, the property featured a roof-top window-washing gondola that moved about the parapet wall on railroad tracks. The British manufacturer Lever Brothers was founded in 1885 by William Hesketh Lever (later Lord Leverhulme) and his brother James. ...

The ground floor contained no tenants. Instead, it featured an open plaza with garden and pedestrian walkways. Only a small portion of the ground floor was enclosed in glass and marble. The ground floor featured space for displays and waiting visitors, a demonstration kitchen and an auditorium. The second and largest floor contained the employee's lounge, medical suite, and general office facilities. On the third floor was the employees' cafeteria and terrace. The offices of Lever Brothers and its subsidiaries occupied the remaining floors with the executive penthouse on the 21st floor. The top three stories contained most of the property's mechanical space.


In 1982, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Lever House as an official landmark. By that time, however, much of Lever House's original brilliance had been dimmed by time. The building's blue-green glass facade deteriorated due to harsh weather conditions and the limitations of the original fabrication and materials. Water seeped behind the stainless steel mullions causing the carbon steel within (and around) the glazing pockets to rust and expand. This corrosion bowed the horizontal mullions and broke most of the spandrel glass panels. By the mid-1990s, only one percent of the original glass remained leaving the once glimmering curtain wall a patchwork of mismatched greenish glass. The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission is the New York City agency charged with administering New Yorks Landmarks Preservation Law. ... Originally, a landmark literally meant a geographic feature used by explorers and others to find their way back or through an area. ... West facade of the Notre-Dame de Strasbourg Cathedral A facade (or façade) (Pronounced fa-sa-de) is generally the exterior of a building — especially the front, but also sometimes the sides and rear. ... Mullion, Cornwall is also the name of a village in Cornwall off the Lizard. ... A spandrel is originally a term from Architecture, but has more recently been given an analogous meaning in Evolutionary biology. ...

In September of 1997, Unilever, Lever Brother's parent, announced it was moving its Lever Brothers division to Greenwich, CT. Following the announcement, Lever Brothers slowly began vacating the building, eventually leaving only Unilever on the top four floors. Greenwich is a town located in Fairfield County, Connecticut. ...


In 1998 the property was acquired from Unilever by German-American real estate magnates Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs. Rosen's firm, RFR Holding LLC, negotiated a lease-back deal allowing Unilever to remain on the top four floors. Immediately following the acquisition, RFR Holding announced a $25 million capital improvement program including a restoration of the building's curtain wall and public spaces as well as repositioning it as a multi-tenant property. An editor has expressed a concern that the subject of the article does not satisfy the notability guideline for Biographies. ...

The deteriorated steel subframe was replaced with concealed aluminum glazing channels, a state-of-the-art solution in modern curtain wall technology, which is identical to the original in appearance. All rusted mullions and caps were replaced with new and identical stainless steel mullions and caps. All glass was removed for new panes that are nearly identical to the original, yet meet today's energy codes. Glass curtain wall of the Bauhaus Dessau. ...

The renovation project included the addition of marble benches and an Isamu Noguchi sculpture garden to the building's plaza--elements in the original plans for Lever House but never realized. Since 2003, Lever House is also home to the Lever House Restaurant, which won New York Magazine's Best Service award in 2004. Isamu Noguchi, 1941. ... This article or section needs a complete rewrite for the reasons listed on the talk page. ...

As of 2005, the building's tenants included Alcoa and Thomas Weisel Partners Group, and what was once the building's cafeteria and kitchen is now the headquarters of RFR Holding LLC, the property's new owner. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

Public art space

Since the completion of the Lever House renovation, the building's plaza and lobby have been used as a gallery for the Lever House Art Collection. Exhibitions have included such works as "Virgin Mother" by Damien Hirst, "Bride Fight" by E.V. Day, "The Hulks" by Jeff Koons as well as several sculptures by Keith Haring. The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living by Damien Hirst (1991) Damien Hirst (born June 7, 1965) is an English artist and the leading artist of the group that has been dubbed Young British Artists (or YBAs). ... E.V. Days Bride Fight at Lever House, New York City. ... Jeff Koons (born January 21, 1955), is an American contemporary artist and sculptor. ... Harings Radiant Baby Keith Haring (May 4, 1958 - February 16, 1990) was a pre-eminent artist and social activist whose work responded to the New York street culture of the 1980s. ...


External links

  • Lever House at Great Buildings Online
  • Lever House photographs at galinsky.com

Lever House Restaurant



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