Originally published 03/25/2013
THIS MONTH MARKS the 50th anniversary of the completion of Park Avenue’s Pan Am Building, later renamed the MetLife Building, an occasion that a cursory Google search indicates is receiving no particular celebration. What is to be marked, really, is a half-century of evinced distaste, though some of it waning under the grip of nostalgia, for a building that existed as an assault on Grand Central Station, its visual foundation bifurcating and marring views of Park Avenue and casting dark shadows on crowded streets beneath it. The enmity actually dates back further. From the moment designs for the building were presented, the response in the architectural press was one of displeasure and reproof. Long in its development phase, enormous, expensive, controversial, denounced, the building became, in a sense, the city’s structural “Ishtar.”...
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