Save the Union Carbide Building at 270 Park Avenue

MAS Letter to Landmarks Preservation Commission

March 1, 2018

Hon. Meenakshi Srinivasan, Chair
NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
One Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

Dear Chair Srinivasan,

The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) writes to urge the reconsideration of 270 Park Avenue as an individual New York City landmark. Without urgent action to protect the former Union Carbide Building, this treasured piece of New York’s Modernist history will be lost.

In chorus with our partners in preservation, MAS has been advocating for this building for years. Its importance has been underscored in every communication from our organization to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) about East Midtown since discussion of rezoning the neighborhood began in 2012.

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270 Park Avenue. Photo: Meaghan Baron.
270 Park Avenue in Manhattan. Photo: Meaghan Baron.

As we wrote in our 2013 report, A Bold Vision for the Future in East Midtown:
“Built for the Union Carbide company, 270 Park Avenue is one of the great buildings of that era. At the time of completion, the Union Carbide Building was the tallest stainless-steel-clad building in the world and Park Avenue’s tallest skyscraper, as well as Manhattan’s tallest building constructed since 1933.”

Furthermore, the building is a shining example of the principles LPC espoused alongside MAS in our Greening NYC’s Historic Buildings manual, which laid out reasonable, sensitive changes that owners of historic row houses can make to improve the energy efficiency landmark properties. The renovation of 270 Park Avenue takes those same measures writ large—an overhaul so ambitious that it turned a Mid-century skyscraper into a LEED Platinum project for the new millennium.

With respect, we find the LPC’s explanation that Union Carbide is unworthy of designation because other buildings of the same era and architect have already been preserved to be insufficient. We urge you to calendar 270 Park Avenue without delay.

Yours truly,

Elizabeth's signature

Elizabeth Goldstein
The Municipal Art Society of New York

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