Foster + Partners to build Park Avenue skyscraper
for Lehman Brothers


425 Park Avenue by Foster + Partners

News: Foster + Partners has won a competition to design a 200-metre skyscraper for collapsed investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings and partner L&L Holding Company on Park Avenue in New York.

425 Park Avenue by Foster + Partners

Lehman Brothers famously kickstarted a global financial crisis when they filed for bankruptcy protection back in 2008, but four years on the estate of the bank still controls more than $10 billion of real estate assets.

According to developers, the office tower will be the first new building on Park Avenue in over 50 years and is conceived as a tapered structure of steel and glass.

"Our aim is to create an exceptional building, both of its time and timeless, as well as being respectful of this context," said architect Norman Foster. Citing Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson as inspitations, he explained how the building will "set a new standard for office design and provide an enduring landmark that befits its world-famous location."

The tower will be split into three tiers, separated by landscaped terraces, and each section will feature column-free floors.

Other projects in progress by Foster + Partners include a pair of towers beside the Seine in Paris and an art museum with four overlapping peaks in China.

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Image is by dbox branding & creative.

Here's some extra information from the architects:

Foster + Partners wins competition for new tower at 425 Park Avenue, New York

Foster + Partners is delighted to be selected by a partnership of L&L Holding Company and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LBHI) to design their new office tower at 425 Park Avenue. The new building will create an enduring landmark that befits its exclusive location, and is uniquely of its time and its place.

The project presents an outstanding opportunity to contribute to the existing character of Park Avenue and responds to the scale and datum of the Avenue and neighbouring buildings. Clearly expressing the geometry of its structure, the tapered steel-frame tower rises to meet three shear walls that will be illuminated, adding to the vibrant New York City skyline. Its elegant facade seamlessly integrates with the innovative internal arrangement that allows for three gradated tiers of column-free floors.

Offering world-class sustainable office accommodation, the new building anticipates changing needs in the workplace with large, open spaces that encompass flexible use. Each of the three tiers – low, medium and high-rise – is defined by a landscaped terrace that provides an excellent amenity for tenants and offers panoramic views across Manhattan and Central Park. At the street level, the conceptual design for 425 Park Avenue gives as much to the City as to the people that will work in it with the potential for a large civic plaza marked by significant works of art.

  • Maybe I need some more pictures and concept views. But what is visualized here bores me stiff. It underlines that the architectural development of NYC is frozen – but this may indeed fit to an avenue about which is written “first new building […] in over 50 years”. Of course I got the idea that the real innovation is inside the tower.

    • Zaha Hadid: “New York is a great city, but there hasn’t been anything new here, to be earnest, for a long time.”

      We’ve only seen Foster+Partners’ boring building here. But having seen the presentations I think, they haven’t won because of a strong concept but because of an extraordinary presentation of the idea:

      Lord Foster recognizes the same as Zaha Hadid.The architecture of NYC is frozen. But he doesn’t want to change this, he takes it as given historic tradition to which the “new” building must fit. Very much people don’t want to change. They want to get what they already know. That is the second reason why Foster+Partners have won.

  • Eric B

    Booooooooooooorrrring. Epic let down! Man I was looking forward to seeing the results of this competition. Now I’m wondering if Mitt Romney was on the jury. What a conservatively boring scheme for such an incedibly historic opportunity. Thanks for putting me to sleep Norman, you are the Renzo Piano of commercial towers.

  • IDB Collaborative

    Finally, architects benefiting from gov’t bailout money.

  • rock

    Lehman Brothers keeping it humble after their contribution to crash the world economy just a few years ago…

  • Zecks

    My word this is hideous!

  • Theo

    Looks like SOM’s Fleet Place House, but upside down.

    Not particularly inspirational and – based on these renders – not as slick as Foster’s other towers.

  • Krow Ecalp

    I bet you the space planning for this project is amazing. In fact, I bet the column-free spaces have been laid out like a dream, like a space planner’s wet dream… but of course I can only speculate.

  • c-dogg

    I think it looks more like the Torre Velasca turned upside down (one of the ugliest buildings in the world).

  • unknown

    With those fins at the top it looks like the man from Denton Corker Marshall was involved.

  • luca

    A nightmare for those who missed work and money. Thanks Lehman Brothers.

  • alex


  • Chris

    Maybe people should wait for interior renders before denouncing it completely. Otherwise, just judge it by its exterior, because that’s obviously the correct direction for architecture to go in.

  • jeff

    The fins at the top make it go faster.

  • lien

    Haven’t they bankrupted!?

  • Hala Hasan

    Usually I really like Norman Foster’s designs, but I am not sure of this building. I need the plans and interior views to judge. From the pictures I have it looks like a usual high rise building, a huge one with no human scale! The only thing that I like is the two terraces. They are interesting with challenging structure.

  • cubert

    The grey volume along the right side, which seems to be the core and the structure, makes me think to the Inland steel building. It’s really fair from Sir Foster to “Citing Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson as inspirations”, but he should thank Bruce Graham and S.O.M too.

  • Max Phillips

    70s. Not in a good way.