Union Carbide Corporation Headquarters

Union Carbide
Union Carbide
Union Carbide
  • Client Union Carbide Corporation
  • Expertise Commercial
  • Region North America
  • Location New York, New York, United States

Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 1960
  • Size Site Area: 80,000 Building Height: 707 feet Number of Stories: 52 Building Gross Area: 1,518,000 square feet
  • Rentable Area 1,116,000.00 sq ft
  • Awards
    1961, New Buildings: First Prize, Fifth Avenue Association 1966, Charles L. Staples Award, Actual Specifying Engineer 1961, Office of the Year Award, Administrative Management Magazine 1961, Certificate of Merit, Municipal Art Society of New York
  • Collaborators
    Bolt Beranek & Newman Weiskopf & Pickworth Rodgers Associates Manning & Lewis Post Herman Cole Syska & Hennessy Group
Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 1960
  • Size Site Area: 80,000 Building Height: 707 feet Number of Stories: 52 Building Gross Area: 1,518,000 square feet
  • Rentable Area 1,116,000.00 sq ft
  • Awards
    1961, New Buildings: First Prize, Fifth Avenue Association 1966, Charles L. Staples Award, Actual Specifying Engineer 1961, Office of the Year Award, Administrative Management Magazine 1961, Certificate of Merit, Municipal Art Society of New York
  • Collaborators
    Bolt Beranek & Newman Weiskopf & Pickworth Rodgers Associates Manning & Lewis Post Herman Cole Syska & Hennessy Group

Built for the Union Carbide Corporation, this sleek tower, built over railroad tracks leading out of Grand Central Terminal, was unlike its neighbors on Park Avenue when it opened. Not only was it set back in a plaza, but it also stood out for its innovative structural engineering design, which responded to the constraints of the site.

Because of its location, the 52-story tower could have no basement under most of its bulk, and its column-footings had to be poured between active rail tracks. To counteract train vibrations — more than 500 trains passed by each day — all columns were set on vibration pads. Moreover, SOM designed the building so an underground pedestrian passage to Grand Central could be installed.

The tower’s outer skin consisted of approximately 11 acres of glass, stainless steel mullions, and black sandwich panels. Inside, the ceiling system integrated lighting, air-conditioning, and connections for movable partitions — a cutting-edge feature at the time. Adjoining the tower was an annex that contained an employee cafeteria and exhibition hall.

In 1983, SOM renovated the building for a new tenant: the Manufacturers Hanover Corporation. The project presented the unique challenge of retrofitting a classic, modern skyscraper to accommodate new program requirements, energy conservation, and contemporary technology. SOM’s involvement with the building continued into the 1990s, when the firm provided design services for the merger of Chemical Bank with Manufacturers Hanover Trust.

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