In Culmination of Greater East Midtown Initiative, LPC Designates Iconic Skyscraper

Former Citicorp Center

(New York, NY)- The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) today unanimously voted to landmark the former Citicorp Center, now 601 Lexington Avenue. Today's designation is the culmination of LPC's Greater East Midtown Initiative, part of the administration's comprehensive multi-agency effort to plan for the future of one of New York City's most vibrant and dynamic districts. The complex joins 11 recently designated East Midtown properties and brings the number of individual landmarks in the area to 50.

The Citicorp Center was designed by Hugh A. Stubbins & Associates, in association with Emery Roth & Sons, and is a major example of late 20th century modern architecture. Built 1973-78, the mixed-use complex contains three interlocking buildings: a 59-story office tower, 6-story retail-and-office structure, and Saint Peter's Church.

"The Commission is very proud to add the former Citicorp Center to our collection of landmarks in Greater East Midtown," said Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. "The Citicorp Tower's distinctive features make it one of the most recognizable skyscrapers in New York City, and today we ensured that future generations will enjoy this irreplaceable part of our skyline. The success of the Greater East Midtown Initiative underscores that historic preservation is an integral part of the process of planning for the future of our city."

Commissioned by First National City Bank (now Citibank), the building is notable for its slanted top, four 127-foot-high "super" columns and generous public spaces. At the summit, the roof is cut off at a 45-degree angle, a feature initially conceived for terraced apartments, which was later reoriented to face south and considered as a platform for solar panels. Though the economic benefit of using solar panels made them unfeasible in the 1970s, various energy saving strategies were adopted. A pioneering effort at sustainable design, the bank estimated that Citicorp used 42 percent less energy than comparable buildings.

Stubbins, in consultation with architect Edward Larrabee Barnes, also designed Saint Peter's Church. Clad with granite, rather than aluminum, to distinguish it from the office tower, this prismatic structure has been compared to a "tent" and "hands held up in prayer."

The project made innovative use of zoning incentives that provided floor area bonuses for public space, including a spacious sunken plaza, which was planned to enhance connections to the 53rd Street subway station. These privately owned public spaces remain under jurisdiction of the City Planning Commission.
Boston Properties acquired Citicorp Center in 2001, and it was renamed "601 Lexington Avenue" in 2010.


In 2015, LPC presented its conceptual framework to the East Midtown Steering Committee, which was established by Mayor de Blasio in May 2014 as part of a strategy to strengthen East Midtown as a world-class 21st Century commercial district. The Steering Committee, Co-Chaired by Council Member Daniel Garodnick and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, determined that LPC should calendar and designate as landmarks as many historic resources as it deems appropriate. After a significant study of the area, the agency identified and designated 12 sites as New York City Landmarks

The agency undertook its comprehensive Greater East Midtown study with the goal of preserving the neighborhood's development history through individual designations. After extensive research by the agency of a study area consisting of East 39th to East 57th Streets, from Fifth Avenue to Second Avenue, the Commission identified 12 properties from three key eras central to the development of the neighborhood that complement existing designations: Pre-Grand Central Terminal (residential and institutional development through the 1910s); Grand Central/Terminal City (buildings constructed in Terminal City or that were spurred by transit improvements); and Post Grand Central (buildings constructed after 1933).

The former Citicorp Tower at 601 Lexington Avenue was identified as representative of the Post-Grand Central era. The site complements the landmarked Lever House and Seagram Building, which represent the International Style of architecture from the 1950s, and joins eight other designated sites associated with this era.