Chase Manhattan Plaza | SOM

LA p163 detail | © SOM

P150 SOM | Erich Locker

P152 SOM | Ezra Stoller © Esto

P155 SOM | © Alexandre Georges

P156 SOM | © Alexandre Georges

P161 SOM | © Alexandre Georges

P160 SOM | © Alexandre Georges

P159B SOM | © Alexandre Georges

P159A SOM | © Alexandre Georges

P158B SOM | © Alexandre Georges

P158A SOM | © Alexandre Georges

P157 SOM | © George Zimbel

LA p162 elevation | © SOM

LA p161 plan | © SOM

P151&7 SOM | Erich Locker

Known for their innovation and economy in design, SOMs Chase  Plaza in the Financial District of Lower  displays SOMs architectural language on efficiency and its relationship with the public realm.  Completed in 1961, the 60 story skyscraper by Gordon Bunshaft of  is a coming of age story for Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill presence as an [inter]national leader of corporate architectural design that evokes efficiency and functionality.

Situated on Liberty Street, the Chase  building bridges two commercial properties between Nassau Street and Williams Street in Lower .  Rising 813 feet above the bustling streets of , the building is an exemplary project on efficiency where the slender tower only occupies 30% of the 2.5 acre site.  In effect creating one of the largest privately owned public spaces in  that are intended to create an oasis to relieve the congestion and density within the city.

Following in the footsteps of many prolific architects that have designed buildings for ’s dense urban fabric,  places the public space as a high priority in the design of the building just as Mies van der Rohe and Raymond Hood had done previously.

By allocating the majority of the allowable space to the public realm, the building is not solely become restricted to such tight constraints, rather the proportion of built to unbuilt space gives the Chase  building an iconic presence at the heart of the Financial District that becomes a central focal point for commerce and recreational activities to converge in one location.

The design of the Chase  building is relatively straightforward – slender tower with a repeated typical floor plan that optimizes efficiency and functionality on every level that allows for a completely flexible interior.

Echoing on the Inland  Building by Bruce Graham and Walter Netsch from SOMs Chicago office, the Chase  skyscraper places the columns on the exterior of the building while situating the core offset from the center to designate areas of spatial efficiency and flexibility. The offset core allows for offices to be placed on the northern part of the building while the south side of the building can be designed for flexible desk use and more collective gathering/work spaces.

The entire project over exaggerates efficiency and flexibility required for modern business in 20thCentury corporate America.

In terms of materiality, the Chase  building employed the most readily available and economic materials that were present at the time of construction.  The building is clad in anodized along with a  and  façade system.  The building was telling of how the International Style was creeping into American architecture.

The Chase  building is one of many examples from  that began to show the firms presence in modernism in corporate America where economy does not solely relate to a monetary value, but a temporal value where time is the ultimate factor in efficiency, flexibility, and corporate prosperity.

Architect: SOM

Team: J. Walter Severinghaus, Gordon Bunshaft, Alan Labie, Roy Allen, Jacques Guiton
Location:  City, 
Photographs: © 
References: SOM


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