With the choice of four of the world’s greatest architects, how could David Levinson ever settle on just one to build a new tower at 425 Park Avenue?
“That’s my next job, to find three more sites so I can build all these buildings,” Mr. Levinson joked, seated at a conference table inside his sleek white offices on 57th Street on Monday. He was surrounded by renderings and models by Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers, Rem Koolhaas and the winning architect Norman Foster.
“For us, it was really a blend of what’s the right concept for Park Avenue, a place that has not had a new building for almost 50 years, an avenue that is quite possibly the most important commercial boulevard in New York City, quite possibly the United State, and what is the place of a new build down the street from Seagrams and Lever House, two of the greatest buildings ever built,” Mr. Levinson explained. “We had to determine for that setting what’s the right firm. So really, it’s a blend of the concept and the firm we can work with.”
Who needs the Midtown East Rezoning to transform the area when you have intrepid developers and unlikely circumstances? O.K., so both of those are super-rare, so bring on the rezoning,
In the meantime, though, we can occupy ourselves with David Levinson’s daring plan to tear down 75 percent of 425 Park Avenue and replace it with a dynamic new tower by Lord Norman Foster. Foster + Partners have emerged victorious from a competition Mr. Levinson’s L&L Holdings held over the past few months between some of the world’s most high-profile designers. The British Pritzker Prize winner beat out fellow starchitects Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers (no Americans, unfortunately).
In what sounds like a cross between a party and a design crit from architecture college, L&L Holdings held four marathon sessions last week to explore proposals for replacing the tower it owns at 425 Park Avenue with a new modern office building.
Last year, L&L revealed it planned to tear down the 1950s office block and replace it with something new. A complication in the zoning meant L&L had to keep the bottom 25 percent of the building intact, otherwise the developer would be forced to replace the current building with something smaller. It tapped 11 of the world’s top architects to come up with their own plans, then chose four to present preliminary designs, which took place last week.
It is one of the stranger developments in the city, but it could also prove to be one of the most spectacular. David Levinson is poised to tear down most, but not all, of 425 Park Avenue—were he to totally demolish the tower, what he could replace it with could be quite a bit smaller, given a quirk in the 1961 zoning that reduced the density of the site, where a rather unremarkable and outdated 1958 tower now stands.
To fix this problem, L&L Holdings, Mr. Levinson’s development firm, tapped 11 of the planets top architects to sort out this challenge. He has now winnowed the designers for 425 Park down to four, according to The Times, with an unveiling expected shortly. All of them are Pritzker Prize winners with a mixed history in the city.
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