JPMorgan Chase reveals Union Carbide Building–replacing HQ by Foster + Partners

Blue Chip Building

JPMorgan Chase reveals Union Carbide Building–replacing HQ by Foster + Partners

The 1,388-foot, 60-story Midtown skyscraper will be New York City’s largest all-electric tower with net-zero operational emissions. (dbox/Foster + Partners)

JPMorgan Chase is hitching its barnacle to in-office work with plans for a 60-story global headquarters at 270 Park Avenue in Midtown East. Its wedding cake shape references classic New York tall buildings, while the glossy diagrid facade screams boom-and-bust 1980s.

While the project was first announced in 2018, well before COVID, renderings and additional information about the design were just released today. Foster + Partners is collaborating with Vishaan Chakrabarti’s Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) on the project. Tishman Speyer is the developer.

rendering of a glass tower with a diagrid facade
270 Park Avenue is billed as New York City’s largest all-electric skyscraper. (dbox/Foster + Partners)

The bank’s HQ replaces the Union Carbide Building, a 708-foot-tall International Style skyscraper by Gordon Bunshaft and Natalie de Blois that was demolished beginning in 2019 to make way for the JPMorgan Chase building. While many preservationists and architects were troubled by the loss of a significant modern building and the waste engendered by such a large demolition, others, including our very own former AN executive editor Matt Shaw, argued that the Union Carbide Building was pretty mediocre and should be torn down. (A press release touting the new 270 Park Avenue’s performance bona fides echoed Shaw’s assessment in its characterization of the 3,500-capacity office as an “outdated facility.”)

brightly lit mezzanine at new 270 Park Ave
Located above the trading floors, the three-story “Exchange” is the social heart of the tower. (LightField London)

“The unique design rises to the challenge of respecting the rhythm and distinctive streetscape of Park Avenue, while accommodating the vital transport infrastructure of the city below,” said Norman Foster, founding principal of Foster + Partners, in a statement. “The result is an elegant solution where the architecture is the structure, and the structure is the architecture, embracing a new vision that will serve JPMorgan Chase now and well into the future.”

ground floor of 270 Park Ave
The new building will house up to 14,000 employees. (dbox/Foster + Partners)

To complement the banker workstations above, the 2.5-million-square-foot project will bring wider sidewalks to Park and Madison Avenues as well as a public plaza on Madison. A food hall, top-floor conference center, yoga rooms, and other wellness amenities round out the program.

Triangular bracing at the base, as well as a glass-encased 80-foot-high ground floor, floats the nearly 1,400-foot-tall building above the sidewalk. The extensive glazing will likely contribute to Manhattan skyscrapers’ genocide of migratory birds, but if you are not a bird, you will be able to see through the block to the building entrances on the avenues.

Night view towards client center. (Foster + Partners)

As far as performance and energy efficiency, Foster + Partners’ press release claims the building will be 100 percent electric-powered with net zero emissions, with 100 percent of its energy sourced from a New York State hydroelectric plant. And in a nod to an increased awareness around airborne illness, the project’s HVAC system will double the amount of outside air cycled through the building.

Construction is expected to wrap in 2025.

Notably for our urban planning enthusiasts out there, the skyscraper will be the first built under the city’s Midtown East Rezoning, a plan that’s meant to spur development of class A office space. As part of the development deal, JPMorgan Chase is kicking money towards the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to help pay for transit and infrastructure.