55 Water Street
55 Water Street is a 687-foot-tall (209 m) skyscraper in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, New York City, on the East River. The 53-story, 3.5-million-square-foot (325,000 m2) structure was completed in 1972. It is tied with two other buildings, 277 Park Avenue and 5 Beekman Street, as the 73rd tallest building in New York. Emery Roth & Sons designed the building, which was the largest office building in the world when completed, and is still the largest in New York by floor area. In an arrangement with the Office of Lower Manhattan Development, it was built on a superblock created from four adjoining city blocks, suppressing the western part of Front Street.
|55 Water Street|
|Architectural style||international style|
|Owner||Retirement Systems of Alabama|
|Roof||687 ft (209 m)|
|Floor area||3.5 million square feet (325,000 m2)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Emery Roth & Sons|
Lee S. Jablin
|Developer||Uris Buildings Corporation|
|Structural engineer||The Office of James Ruderman|
Its closest competitors in square footage are the Met Life Building at 3,140,000 square feet (292,000 m2) and 111 Eighth Avenue at 2,900,000 square feet (270,000 m2). One World Trade Center has roughly the same square footage (3.5 million square feet). The now-destroyed World Trade Center was bigger when it opened in 1973.
On the north side of the tower is a 15-story wing with a sloping facade and terraces facing the river. The largest terrace forms a privately owned public space known as the "Elevated Acre", about 30 feet above street level and accessible via escalator and stairs from the sidewalk on Water Street. The creation of public space allowed the developers to increase the total square footage of 55 Water Street beyond what zoning regulations would otherwise have allowed on the site.
The Elevated Acre was originally planned as part of a series of high-level public spaces along East River, to be connected with walkways running above the street level. The Elevated Acre is available for rental as a venue for special events and weddings and during the summer months occasionally hosts free movie screenings open to the community. The original 4,800-square-metre (52,000 sq ft) plaza was designed by M. Paul Friedberg & Associates, and had the same red brick tiles as his Jeannette Park to the south of the tower. The building, its plazas and Jeannette Park have been renovated and redesigned by Lee S. Jablin of Harman Jablin Architects. The Elevated Acre was renovated in 2005 by Rogers Marvel Architects and Ken Smith Landscape Architects.
From 1973 to 1983, the Whitney Museum of American Art maintained a branch museum on the third floor of the building; space was rented for $1 a year and the operating cost was paid for by several Wall Street corporations.
Since 1993, the building has been owned by Retirement Systems of Alabama who acquired it from Olympia & York. The new owners hired Kohn Pedersen Fox to design cosmetic remodeling plans in addition to spending over $20 million to remove asbestos from the building and install a back-up electrical system.
In early 2001, Goldman Sachs briefly considered leasing space in 55 Water Street and proposed building a 13-story, 240-foot addition on the plaza site which would have included seven large trading floors. The plan also proposed adding 35 feet to the north tower. To compensate for the loss of public space, Goldman Sachs proposed paying for various improvements of public space nearby. The plans were quickly dropped and Goldman Sachs cited economic conditions as the reason although some neighborhood residents had begun to voice opposition.
On October 29, 2012, the building was among many along the Lower Manhattan waterfront that sustained damage related to Hurricane Sandy when over 32 million US gallons (120,000 kl) of water flooded three underground levels and rose to waist-high in the lobby. On November 23, 2012, while repairs were being conducted a fire caused injuries to 27 people, mostly those working on the lower levels. To prepare for future storms the building's owner plans to relocate electrical equipment from the basement to the third floor starting in late 2013. A flood control infrastructure was also installed around the perimeter of the building to mitigate any flooding should a storm of similar magnitude effect the location in the future.
The building is the headquarters of EmblemHealth. HIP Health Plan of New York, which became a part of EmblemHealth, moved there with 2,000 employees in October 2004. It was the largest corporate relocation in downtown Manhattan following the September 11 attacks. Standard & Poor's, a corporate rating agency, FXCM, a forex broker and the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation are also headquartered in the building. The New York City Department of Transportation also has offices in the building.
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