Lever House, the 390 Park Ave. masterpiece that first brought curtain-wall design to business Recent York in 1952, is back in business after a two-year closure and $100 million redevelopment.
The project by owners Brookfield and WatermanCLARK isn’t any routine restoration, but a revelation to those that’ve walked by a thousand times and never knew what lay behind the sunshine green-tinted window panes.
Our first look inside last week was an exhilarating surprise. The landmarked, 260,000 square-feet tower’s diminutive office floors — each a mere 11,000 square feet on all but one among 21 floors above a three-floor podium — are windows on “Mad Men”-era Manhattan.
Its perpendicular orientation to Park Avenue and deep setbacks from East 53rd and 54th streets on the north and south sides provide a diorama of mid-Twentieth Century, International-Style design.
Lever House was famously built much smaller than zoning allowed.
Lever House features open views of Park Ave, including the Seagram Constructing, the Racquet and Tennis Club and just-opened 425 Park Avenue.Brian Zak/NY Post
It’s a pygmy amidst Park Avenue’s million-square foot towers.
But because the Landmarks Preservation Commission put it, Lever House “signaled the transformation of the style from one related to an idealistic European social movement into one symbolizing corporate America.”
Light flooding in on three sides brings the long-lasting surroundings to life for office staff who’re never removed from windows — including the Seagram Constructing, the Racquet and Tennis Club and just-opened 425 Park Avenue.
CBRE’s John Maher, the leasing agent, said he was as surprised as we were by the office floors’ light-box effect.
An expansive third-floor Lever Club, designed by Marmol Radziner, includes a classy central bar and dining rooms.Brian Zak/NY Post
“I hadn’t been inside for nearly 40 years,” he said, since the constructing was at all times fully or mostly leased.
For all its architectural acclaim, Lever House had a troubled history.
Former Mayor Ed Koch and preservationists narrowly saved it from demolition for a bigger tower before it was designated a protected landmark in 1982.
After Lever Brothers parent Unilever moved most of its offices to Connecticut in 1997, there have been frequent changes in ownership and tenants, of which Alcoa was the biggest.
By then, most of the constructing’s exterior spandrel panels, glass and steel were badly decayed.
Aby Rosen’s RFR Realty, which bought the leasehold in 1997, restored the facade a couple of years later and launched a restaurant for the primary time.
But comprehensive redevelopment didn’t start until Brookfield and WatermanCLARK took control in 2020 and the few remaining tenants moved out the subsequent 12 months.
Amongst changes the brand new owners made in collaboration with original architect SOM, they restored the skin plaza paving and lobby terrazzo floors; introduced a diffused lighting system to enhance brightness and energy efficiency; and installed recent mechanical systems. Chrome steel columns and plaster ceilings were restored.
An Ellsworth Kelly sculpture collection was installed because the constructing’s first public art presentation.
The landmarked constructing has 15,000 square feet of landscaped outdoor terraces that were originally utilized by Lever Brothers staff.Brian Zak/NY Post
The outdoor terrace space provides tenants with clear views of Park Avenue.Brian Zak/NY Post
Convector units from the Nineteen Fifties were replaced with a state-of-the-art dedicated outdoor air system (DOAS). Y
anking the convectors added two feet of floor space on either side of every floor and an extra foot of ceiling height.
An expansive third-floor Lever Club, designed by Marmol Radziner, includes a classy central bar, dining rooms and 15,000 square feet of landscaped outdoor terraces that were originally utilized by Lever Brothers staff.
Light flooding in on three sides brings the long-lasting surroundings to life for office staff who’re never removed from windows.Brian Zak/NY Post
Food and beverage service is provided by Sant Ambroeus Hospitality which operates Italian restaurant Casa Lever on the bottom floor.
Maher said that three leases with unidentified tenants have already been signed, including on the larger, 35,000 square-foot second floor, before official marketing begins.
He declined to debate rents but outside brokerage sources said the “ask” starts at $200 per square foot.
Three leases have already been signed, including on the larger, 35,000 square-foot second floor.Brian Zak/NY Post
Tenants will likely be financial firms akin to hedge funds and personal equity needing small, jewel-box facilities and maybe consumer products corporations.
Maher said, “What’s amazing is the prescient view of the unique Lever company to design a constructing within the Nineteen Fifties with the spirit of what everybody’s attempting to do today — integrated amenities and air and light-weight for everybody.”
He said that the redevelopment goal was to boost the prevailing property with “fully integrated, holistic design to alter from a beautiful Nineteen Fifties office constructing to 1 for the fashionable age. We’re very pleased with the history but more excited for the long run.”