The Manhattan skyline looks drastically different today than a decade ago, long before the emergence of the skewer-like supertalls on Billionaire’s Row or the oft-maligned glass fortress of Hudson Yards. One district in particular is gearing up for a drastic—if not gradual—reinvention thanks to amendments to rigid zoning laws championed by former Mayor Bill De Blasio. The Midtown East rezoning plan stipulates that developers can build larger skyscrapers in the neighborhood, long anchored by the Chrysler Building, in exchange for financing transit improvements and public space.
The first new project to benefit from the policy is 270 Park Avenue, a 1,388-foot-tall office tower designed by Foster + Partners and Vishaan Chakrabarti’s Practice for Architecture and Urbanism that’s slated to be the city’s largest all-electric skyscraper when construction wraps in 2025. It replaces the Union Carbide Building, a 52-story International Style tower that critics described as “the incarnation of white-collar America” but became the world’s tallest building to be voluntarily demolished despite architecture circles vying for its preservation. Renderings of the replacement depict a hulking glassy tower defined by triangular window bracing and a wedding cake shape that references setbacks typical of traditional Manhattan silhouettes.
270 Park Avenue is the latest entry into the skyward developer arms race that is heralding an era of change for the area—and dwarfing the Chrysler Building, which once reigned as the city’s tallest structure. The 1,401-foot-tall One Vanderbilt turned heads when it was unveiled in late 2020, but will soon sit in the shadows of the recently approved 175 Park Avenue, a behemoth designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill that tops out 250 feet higher. Gensler’s boxy Tower Fifth, proposed a few blocks north, may become a taller, flashier version of the neighboring 432 Park Avenue. Meanwhile, Vornado Realty is working on securing approvals for the 1,450-foot-tall 350 Park Avenue, also by Foster + Partners.