I’m often asked what my favorite building to work in is. For me, there’s no one simple answer and no single building that suits the wide variety of tenants our firm designs for. Each has a personality all its own and a list of positives to go right along with it. That being said, here are six buildings that I especially enjoy working in, along with the reasons why:
601 Lexington Avenue: The former Citigroup Center is an architect’s dream. My team and I have had the pleasure of designing a variety of offices here over the past 15 years, many of which were on the 51st floor or above. From that vantage point, the views are breathtaking. Add a center core layout and structural system that complements private office and open plan layouts alike–and airy nine and ten-foot ceiling heights–and you have yourself an all-around winner. The facade is just as impressive. Since it has graduated “steps” rather than a pure rectangular or square exterior, it affords excellent corner views for conference rooms and collaborative areas. Another enormous plus: class-act management. Owned by Boston Properties, 601 Lexington Avenue is efficiently run, so I know tenants will be in good hands when they take space there.
Brookfield Place: I can’t talk enough about this building! Brookfield Properties’ building offers a large footprint (think 50,000 square feet plus) and suits many different types of tenancies, from financial firms to those on the cutting edge. Sweeping downtown views, even from the lower floors, and a host of on-property amenities, including the market and dining terrace that I attended the soft opening of just last week, have transformed the neighborhood–and the building itself–into a commercial go-to destination.
390 Park Avenue: Ask me to describe RFR’s Lever House in just one word and I’d say, “iconic.” This architectural landmark boasted one of the first curtain wall systems in Manhattan and it is just as relevant today as it was when it was first built. Through numerous interior redevelopments in the building, I’ve come to appreciate its side core, gem-like structure, wide open north, south and east views down Park Avenue and generous ceiling heights. The top floor plates work beautifully for private office environments, while the lower floors offer the right layout for open plans. The property itself is an art gallery, complete with a sculpture park, outdoor space and collaborative gathering areas built into its visionary design long before these amenities became established.
261 11th Avenue: The Terminal Stores Building is one of my “new favorites.” Working to design Quirky and Uber’s offices at this West Side building proved to be an absolute pleasure. The bones of the building are appealing for any tech, social media or progressive tenant — thick plank floors, exposed brick, wood joists and plenty of character abound. The more subdued exterior offers hints of light and unique opportunities to bring attention to the internal environment. Plus, there is plenty of opportunity to expand on a given floor and within the multiple interconnected buildings, as long as it’s negotiated into the lease. For the creative, growth-minded tenant, 261 11th Avenue is a great play.
111 Eighth Avenue: Even before Google purchased 111 Eighth Avenue, the former Port Authority Building, my firm served as architect for several office spaces and the prior landlord there and I fell hard for the building’s character. The appeal was obvious: unlimited ceiling heights, huge floor plates, sweeping views in every direction, exposed concrete floors, and an elongated core at both ends that made it possible to design based on a tenant’s size and character. If you’ve heard that it’s a good building for any type of tenant, then you’ve heard right. My favorite feature of the space are the old truck/ bus elevator bays, which are creatively used as common areas, gathering spaces, theaters and unusual specialty areas. Now you know why Google wanted to keep it for itself.
32 Avenue of the Americas: Last, but certainly not least in my book, is Rudin’s 32 Avenue of the Americas, formerly known as the AT&T Building. Once home to technical spaces and data centers, the building has since attracted floors of advertising and media firms, including its largest tenant, Clear Channel. They recognized the potential of its wonderfully large floor plates, efficient use of space, atypical footprints (neither rectangular nor square) and vast ceiling heights.
Scott E. Spector, AIA, is a principal at Spector Group, one of New York’s premier architecture and interior design firms and a leader in corporate tenant and building owner-based design. The award-winning company has affiliate offices nationally and internationally. To date, it has completed more than 1,500 projects.