Location: 390 Park Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets, New York, New York
Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Date Completed: 1952
Height: 302 feet (92 meters)
In terms of size, Lever House barely qualifies as a skyscraper. However this building
does represent a major shift in Manhattan architecture.
It was the first New York building to take advantage of a new zoning provision that
allowed a building to rise with no setbacks provided the building covered only 25 percent
of the lot.
Spurred by the success of their new products, the Lever Brothers Company wanted an office
building that would convey an image of sparkling cleanliness and modernity.
Lever House consists of a twenty four story tower resting perpendicular to a one story
second floor on columns that seems to float over the entire site.
The tower is covered in a glass skin that conceals its internal structure while conveying
strait forward business dealings, as well as the desired "clean" effect.
Lever House set the standard for postwar office building in the United States. For better
or worse, Lever House marked a turning point in the International Style away from the
idealism of the European avant-garde toward the commercialism of corporate America.
This building began the shift to other interpretations of the International Style,
repeated and reinterpreted in hundreds of buildings in hundreds of cities, but generally
without any sign of the design panache exhibited by Lever House.