MetLife Building

The MetLife Building (also 200 Park Avenue and formerly the Pan Am Building) is a skyscraper at Park Avenue and 45th Street, north of Grand Central Terminal, in the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood of New York City. Designed in the International style by Richard Roth, Walter Gropius, and Pietro Belluschi, the MetLife Building is 808 feet (246 m) tall with 59 stories. It was advertised as the world's largest commercial office space by square footage at its opening, with 2.4 million square feet (220,000 m2) of usable office space. As of 2021, the MetLife Building remains one of the 100 tallest buildings in the United States.

MetLife Building
Seen from the south in 2005
Former namesPan Am Building
General information
TypeOffice
Architectural styleInternational
Location200 Park Avenue
Manhattan, New York 10166
Coordinates40°45′12″N 73°58′36″W
Construction startedNovember 26, 1959
Topped-outMay 9, 1962
Completed1963
OpeningMarch 7, 1963
OwnerTishman Speyer, The Irvine Company
Height
Roof808 ft (246.3 m)
Technical details
Floor count59
Floor area2,841,511 square feet (263,985.0 m2)
Lifts/elevators85
Design and construction
ArchitectEmery Roth & Sons, Pietro Belluschi, and Walter Gropius[1]
Structural engineerJames Ruderman
References
[2][3]

The MetLife Building contains an elongated octagonal massing with the longer axis perpendicular to Park Avenue. The building sits atop two levels of railroad tracks leading into Grand Central Terminal. The facade is one of the first precast concrete exterior walls in a building in New York City. In the lobby is a pedestrian passage to Grand Central's Main Concourse, a lobby with artwork, and a parking garage at the building's base. The roof also contained a heliport that briefly operated during the 1960s and 1970s. The MetLife Building's design has been widely criticized since it was proposed, largely due to its location next to Grand Central Terminal.

Proposals for a skyscraper to replace Grand Central Terminal were announced in 1954 to raise money for the New York Central Railroad and New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, the financially struggling railroads that operated the terminal. Subsequently, plans were announced for what later became the MetLife Building, to be built behind the terminal rather than in place of it. Work on the project, initially known as Grand Central City, started in 1959 and the building was formally opened on March 7, 1963. At its opening, the building was named for Pan American World Airways, for which it served as headquarters. The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife) bought the Pan Am Building in 1981 and used it as their headquarters before selling the building in 2005. The MetLife Building has been renovated several times in its history, including in the mid-1980s, early 2000s, and late 2010s.


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