Citigroup Center in New York

Photo of Citigroup Center in New York, New York
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Citigroup Center in New York, New York
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Citigroup Center
Formerly:Citicorp Center
Formerly:Citibank Center

601 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York, Midtown 10022
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This could have been just any building in the New York skyline. But thanks to a little architectural foresight, it has become one of the signature pieces in the stable of Gotham's skyscrapers. For the most part the Citigroup Center is much like a hundred other buildings - alternating bands of white spandrel and reflective glass. But the top and bottom really make the show. At the top is the right triangle that makes this chess piece stand out. It's not flashy like the queen or the king. Not overdone like the rook. It is the graceful bishop, standing tall, strong, and agile. However, that immense wedge holds a deeper secret - the fate of the building literally rests on it. The root of the problem begins at the base of the tower - Saint Peter's Lutheran Church. It was this church's financial woes that made the Citicorp building possible. It sat on an extremely valuable piece of land, but needed money. Citibank had lots of money, and needed land in the neighborhood. It was destiny. Over five years, Citibank's representatives quietly acquired as much of the remaining land on the block as they could under different names, to keep the price from skyrocketing. Citibank built the shell of a new church for Saint Peter's, then gave the church US$9,000,000.00 to finish the job. But the church sits on the corner of the block, so how do you built a skyscraper with no supporting corners? Move them to the center of the block. Four 127-foot-tall supports at the mid-point of each face instead of the edge, plus a supporting core. It worked; or so they thought. An engineer who worked on the project realized that the unique placement of the legs left the building vulnerable to strong winds -- the kind that can be channeled and intensified by neighboring skyscrapers. A plan was put into action to reinforce the building. And as a hurricane approached, the city of New York's Office of Emergency Management quietly put together a contingency to evacuate the neighborhood in case the tower came down. In the end, steel plates were bolted over hundreds of the building's joints, and fortunately for Citibank, there was that giant wedge at the top. Originally it was going to be used for apartments, but the city would not issue a permit for that use. Then it was going to hold solar panels. That idea was scrapped, too. Now it was used to hold a tuned mass dampener, which is a device that sways against the movement of a building to keep it stable. It is interesting to note that some architectural historians consider this building the forerunner of the modern skyscrapers that went up in Europe in the 1980's and 1990's. It is thought to be the first true deconstructionist tower, a style barely noticed in the United States, but embraced by the nations of what would become the European Union.

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  inovative! breaking the flat top (international style) in 1977 it always stand's out in Manhattan midtown skyline with its 45 degree angled roof very beautiful building.

Wilbert NYC - Wednesday, August 3rd, 2005 @ 2:40am  

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