NYC - Midtown: Solow Building
The Solow Building, also referred to as 9 West 57th Street, was built by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill for Sheldon Solow's Solow Development Corporation. The unique design of this this 49-story black and white tower, completed in 1973, covers 70% of the site at street level and slopes back 40% above the 19th floor to fit neatly into New York's strict zoning envelope. Thie giant office tower, Solow's first major commercial building venture, set new standards of elegance with the sleekest curtain wall facade in the city. Although it was completed at the start of a major real estate depression in the city, Solow had preleased much of the building, first to Monsanto Chemical and then to Avon Products.
Solow rejected Bunshaft's first design, which he then pawned off on Swig, Weiler, Arnow who used it for their similarly shaped W.R. Grace Building. The difference between that design and the one Solow accepted is the facade treatment. The north and south facades of the Solow tower project slightly from the building's edges. This created controversy among many who argued that it "violated" the traditional streetwall, exposing sides of adjacent buildings that were never meant to be. To counter this, Bunshaft designed a large second-story gutter that curtains the exposed areas from the pedestran. He also placed a very large, bright red metal sculture of the number "9" in front of the building.
On 57th Street, the building is set back a few feet from its building line in front of sidewalks covered with the same travertine marble used on the facades and in the lobbies. The building goes through its block to 58th Street where it faces the south side of the Plaza Hotel. This side has a much larger plaza, decorated with a glorious, large Picasso sculpture of a mythic bull
In 2000, a new curved glass entrance to 8 1/2, a basement restaurant, replaced two escalators in the middle of building's 57th Street frontage.