The LVMH Tower is the United States headquarters of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, which opened in 1999. It is a 24-story skyscraper on East 57th Street in Manhattan, near Madison Avenue, and was designed by Christian de Portzamparc. The building has received widespread praise from architecture critics.
|Architectural style||Postmodern Art Deco|
|Address||19 East 57th Street|
|Town or city||New York, NY|
|Current tenants||LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE|
|Opened||December 8, 1999|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Christian de Portzamparc|
|Structural engineer||Weiskops and Pickworth|
|Other designers||Hillier Group (associate architects and interior design)|
Ground was broken for the building in 1996, but work was then largely halted for four years by disagreements over financing with the landlord, Robert Siegel, and logistical problems with manufacturing the components in multiple countries. The building opened on December 8, 1999, with a gala that included a model wearing a Galliano gown whose 60-foot train cascaded down the facade.
The building occupies a narrow site between a 1920s bank building and the 1995 American headquarters of Chanel S.A. (designed by Charles Platt after de Portzamparc had completed his design for the LVMH Tower) and across the street from 590 Madison Avenue, a large tower built for IBM. In contrast to all of these, it is clad in glass. An eleven-story base includes ground-level store space for Christian Dior, designed by Peter Marino, with a metal strip above it that acts as a unifying element. The tower itself has a complex, angular facade divided into two sections on the diagonal, with the right (east) side projecting and bent in the middle, producing a geometry that has been described as feminine, like the fall of a skirt over a bent knee, and also, including by de Portzamparc himself, as resembling the unfolding petals of a flower. A blue glass cube at the center of the fold on the 10th floor resembles a gem. The glass on the left (west) side is green, with fritted dots; on the right side, it is milky white, with each window divided at an angle into a sandblasted half and a clear half with sandblasted lines across it that grow wider on higher floors. The facade also uses ultra-clear low-iron glass. It has set a precedent for other buildings erected by manufacturers of luxury goods.
The folded facade with its protrusion is an innovative interpretation of the requirement for setbacks in the New York City building code, with a void in the lower section and with the upper section folding back outward in a prismatic rather than a "wedding-cake" shape. Having the building touch the mandated setback line at the minimum two points and folding it inwards from the base to the top made it possible for it to be taller than the neighboring Chanel Building.
Each business within the LVMH group has its own floor in the building. The interior design, by the Hillier Group, de Portzamparc's U.S. associate architects on the project, features glass, pressed wood, and metal in the elevator lobby and a glass-enclosed cubic reception space on the top floor, three floors or thirty feet high, made possible by the savings in floor space below, which LMVH calls the Magic Room. This is entered in dramatic fashion down a curving stairway from a mezzanine floor.
A planned addition, including an obelisk echoing the IBM Building and a slab of fritted glass at the Madison Avenue corner, was canceled in 2001 because of the economic downturn.
The LMVH Tower has met with praise from architecture critics. Architecture called it "one of the most serious and significant structures in the city in recent years". Ada Louise Huxtable, writing in the Wall Street Journal, called it "the epitome of controlled, refined elegance", "the best new building in New York—not by small degrees but by the equivalent of a jump shot to the moon". Herbert Muschamp, writing in The New York Times, called it "[t]he most important building to be completed in New York in years. . . . [a reinvention of] the spirit of Art Deco", but said that rather than merely imitating Art Deco skyscrapers of the past, the building "deforms the style in order to reinvigorate its fresh, jazzy spirit". Paul Goldberger, writing in The New Yorker, called it "exactly right for the city at this moment", "a stunning, lyrical building"; however, with the exception of the "Magic Room" he was disappointed by the interiors, calling the offices "dull, flat spaces". The Architecture critic also called this "the one great space" and referred to the elevators and offices as "cram, not glam" and "stuffed". Huxtable noted that the small lobby was intended to seem larger by means of lighted white glass panels, but in her opinion the addition of decoration had defeated the effect.
- Sharon Edelson, "Deadlock broken on LVMH tower in N.Y. (construction of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton's New York, NY, building held up by Robert Siegel suit)," Women's Wear Daily, July 24, 1997 (at Highbeam; subscription required)
- Herbert Muschamp, "The Spirit of Deco Rises from the Dead," The New York Times, June 27, 1999.
- Ada Louise Huxtable, "French Elegance Hits Midtown Manhattan", The Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2000, repr. in On Architecture: Collected Reflections on a Century of Change, New York: Walker/Bloomsbury, 2008, ISBN 9780802717078, pp. 285–90, p. 286.
- Suzy Menkes, Bernard Arnault: Man Behind the Steely Mask," Style, The New York Times, November 30, 1999.
- Paul Goldberger, "Dior's New House," The New Yorker, January 31, 2000, repr. in Building Up and Tearing Down: Reflections on the Age of Architecture, New York: Random House/Monacelli, 2009, ISBN 978-1-58093-264-6, pp. 111–15, pp. 112–13.
- Ginia Bellafante, "Front Row,", Style, The New York Times, November 30, 1999.
- Eric Peter Nash and Norman McGrath, Manhattan Skyscrapers, rev. ed. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2005, ISBN 9781568985459, p. 169.
- "25 Floors of Glamour," Architecture, March 2000, quoted in Rosario Caballero, Re-Viewing Space: Figurative Language in Architects' Assessment of Built Space, Applications of cognitive linguistics 2, New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 2006, ISBN 9783110185201, pp. 55–57.
- Goldberger, p. 113.
- "Torre LVMH", in Ariadna Àlvarez Garreta, tr. Mark Holloway, Skyscraper Architects, Barcelona: Atrium, 2004, ISBN 9788495692405, pp. 154–59, p. 154.
- Sydney LeBlanc, "LVMH Tower, 1999" in The Architecture Traveler: A Guide to 250 Key 20th Century American Buildings, New York: Norton, 2000, ISBN 9780393730500, p. 248 refers to it as a pyramid.
- Scott Charles Murray, Contemporary Curtain Wall Architecture, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2009, ISBN 9781568987972, p. 59.
- Garreta, p. 156.
- Eric Höweler, Skyscraper, New York: Rizzoli/Universe, 2003, ISBN 9780789310057, p. 166.
- Höweler, pp. 166–67.
- Huxtable, p. 289.
- Philip Jodidio, Architecture Now!, Cologne/London: Taschen, ISBN 9783822860656, p. 486.
- LeBlanc, p. 248.
- Goldberger, pp. 114–15.
- Herbert Muschamp, "A Lesson Abroad: Get Comfortable with Continuity", The New York Times, February 24, 2002, repr. in Hearts of the City: The Selected Writings of Herbert Muschamp, New York: Knopf/Borzoi, 2009, ISBN 9780375404061, pp. 689+, p. 691.
- Herbert Muschamp, "New York Starts to Look Beyond Its Past," 1999: The Year in Review—Arts/Architecture, The New York Times, December 26, 1999.
- Goldberger, pp. 112, 114.
- Goldberger, p. 114.
- LVMH Louis Vuitton-Moët Hennessy Tower at NYC Architecture.com