Lever House New York architect, Manhattan 20th Century building location, SOM NYC offices refurb, Date

Lever House New York Architecture

Famous 20th Century Midtown Building, NY, USA – design by SOM Architects

post updated November 17, 2023

SOM returns to Lever House, originally built in 1952, to complete a restoration for the 21st Century

Lever House, 390 Park Avenue New York
photograph : Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM

Address: 390 Park Avenue, New York City, NY, USA

Dates built: 1950-52

Architect: Skidmore Owings & Merrill – SOM Architects

The preservation of the modernist icon captures the original aesthetic through a combination of material science and careful craftsmanship

Lever House Building Restoration

Today, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), joins Brookfield Properties and WatermanCLARK, LLC in celebrating the completion of the newly renovated and restored Lever House, an icon since it was completed in 1952. At the time of its completion, Reyner Banham said of the building “it gave architectural expression to an age just as the age was being born.” Since then, the landmark has been under the care of SOM for over 70 years, a level of stewardship that is unprecedented in the architectural profession.

The first major renovation happened in 2001 when SOM restored its facade and today, just over two decades later, the project revitalizes and preserves the landmark structure with a restored and reimagined lobby, ground-level public plaza, and entirely new modernized building systems. The tower’s third floor and 15,000 square feet of terraces have been restored and transformed into The Lever Club, an indoor-outdoor hospitality suite with interiors designed by Marmol Radziner and services managed by Sant Ambroeus Hospitality Group.

“This renovation brings Lever House into the 21st century,” said SOM Partner Chris Cooper. “With completely updated plaza and outdoor spaces, a fully restored lobby, and brand new mechanical systems throughout the building that improve its energy efficiency, we’ve modernized this midcentury icon to its original splendor, to make it, once again, Park Avenue’s premier boutique office building.”

Lever House, 390 Park Avenue New York
photo : Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM

With remarkable attention to craftsmanship and detail, SOM restored the primary public and private spaces to their original glory, and provided key infrastructural upgrades, including an energy efficient DOAS system that significantly improves the building’s energy performance and maximizes ceiling heights. A series of meticulous efforts, in collaboration with Integrated Conservation Resources, create a place that renews the landmark’s original appearance in 1952.

“Our goal was to restore and modernize the building through a combination of material science and careful craftsmanship,” said SOM Principal Frank Mahan. “From carefully calibrating the paving aggregate mix to cleaning the glass mosaic with a toothbrush, the approach is an expression of collective admiration for this architectural treasure.”

The plaza area has been replaced by a durable cast-in-place concrete matching the design of Lever House’s original exterior paving; the water-damaged ceiling has been replaced with new higher performing plaster; and throughout the site, the original stainless steel-clad columns have been refinished, alongside the champlain black marble. In collaboration with TM Light, energy-efficient, long-lasting LED lights have replaced the original lighting to maintain the aperture and look throughout.

Lever House, 390 Park Avenue New York
photo : Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM

“We are very pleased to unveil Lever House and to see our vision for this iconic building come to life,” said Ric Clark, Co-Managing Partner of WatermanClark. “The renovated Lever House displays anunwavering commitment to architectural stewardship while integrating the qualities of a future-forward workplace, from high-end dining and five-star hospitality to elegant design and state-of-the-art infrastructure.”

Throughout the lobby and interior, SOM implemented a plethora of refined updates to transform the arrival experience. The original terrazzo flooring has been repaired and refinished to its original sheen; a glass mosaic tile wall in the elevator vestibule has been cleaned and repaired, while a luminous ceiling above features an upgraded, diffused lighting system to improve brightness and energy efficiency. SOM also located the original stone quarry sources for the building, enabling the design team to extend the original finishes to the elevator cab interiors and a new tenant cellar entrance. The lobby, furnished by Marmol Radziner, also features sculptures by Ellsworth Kelly that extend to the open ground floor plaza.

The interventions continue to the higher floors, most notably with new landscaping. Acclaimed landscape architecture firm Reed Hildebrand curated a new landscape program across the property. From the plaza and lobby-level planter to the third-floor terrace, Lever House’s landscaping—most of which has changed over the years—now visually unites with a birch tree canopy and understory of native plantings throughout. At the perimeter of the terrace, the landscaping now features new shrubs, flowers, and perennials to frame views of Park Avenue.

Lever House, 390 Park Avenue New York
picture : Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM

“When Lever House first opened its doors, it redefined the modern workplace and set a new standard of excellence. Today, we raise the bar even higher, building upon that legacy through an impeccable restoration and reimagination of this Park Avenue icon,” said Callie Haines, Executive Vice President, Northeast Region Head, Brookfield Properties. “We are immensely proud of this project, both ambitious in scale and exacting in detail, and we look forward to welcoming our tenants to the new Lever House experience.”

A series of sweeping changes to the mechanical systems contributes to new LEED Gold and WELL Platinum certification targets. SOM, in collaboration with Cosentini Associates, equipped the building with a modern, dedicated outdoor air system, new chillers, HEPA filters, and an automated building management system. This new mechanical equipment, along with a 500-kilowatt generator, improved security systems, and modernized elevators, will maintain the landmark’s place as a Class A office space for decades to come.

From its original completion, through today, Lever House continues to set a precedent,” said SOM Partner Ken Lewis. “The project is a primary example of how we can extend the life, vitality, and sustainability of our existing buildings—which ultimately is the most sustainable thing we can do as a culture.”

Lever House, 390 Park Avenue New York
building photo : Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM

Lever House, 390 Park Avenue building images / information received 161123 from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)

Previously on e-architect:

Jul 4, 2016

Lever House, New York City

Lever House Building on Fifth Avenue

Building image from 24 Jun – 2 Jul 2016 © Adrian Welch:

Lever House New York building

Lever Building

(Lever House)
Address: 390 Park Avenue, New York
Date built: 1950-52
Design: Skidmore Owings & Merrill – SOM Architects

International Style

A beautiful piece of New York architecture facing Mies van der Rohe‘s Seagram Building and trying to give it a run for its money. Having had a good look at both I think Mies wins but nevertheless this was a classic in its day, podium and tower.

Lever House has some public access within the working day

Floating first floor – with gardens – over columned street space, recessed third
floor with tower extruded above that.

This 20th Century Midtown tower was refurbished by Skidmore Owings & Merrill Architects (SOM).

Lever Brothers – Contact: +1 212 688 6000

Key American buildings by Skidmore Owings & Merrill Architects:
Lever House, New York 1952
Inland Steel Building, Chicago, Illinois 1958
JP Morgan Chase Building, New York 1960
Chase Manhattan Bank 1960
Beinecke Library, New Haven, Connecticut 1963
John Hancock Center, Chicago, Illinois 1970
Time Warner Center, New York 2004
Freedom Tower, New York 2004-

Lever House architects – Skidmore Owings & Merrill

Location: 390 Park Avenue, New York City, USA

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Key New York Buildings close to the Lever Building

Seagram Building
375 Park Avenue, New York
Design: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Architect; Philip Johnson
Seagram Building

Whitney Museum
945 Madison Avenue, Upper East Side
Design: Marcel Breuer, Architect
Whitney Museum New York

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Some UK architects have also worked on this 20th Century Manhattan office tower: David Chipperfield Architects

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Key Manhattan Buildings by SOM

Time Warner Center New York

9 West 57th Street

277 Fifth Avenue Tower, NoMad, central Manhattan
Design: Rafael Viñoly Architects
277 Fifth Avenue Tower NoMad building Manhattan
rendering : Three Marks
277 Fifth Avenue Tower

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Burj Dubai

Sears Tower

Jin Mao Tower

Bishopsgate Tower

Comments / photos for the Lever House New York Architecture designed by US architects Skidmore Owings & Merrill at 390 Park Avenue, NY, USA, page welcome.