Three years ago, when construction crews broke ground at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, I was quite excited to see what would arise. After all, that intersection is one of the most famous in the world, and the other corners are gorgeously anchored by the Main Library and by 500 Fifth, one of my favorite buildings in the city.
Therefore I am rather dismayed by the 28-story, bland, forgettable glass tower that has just been completed. Granted, it has some interesting angles (if you are viewing it from uptown) and apparently the designers employed some groundbreaking concrete construction techniques that have architecture critics pissing themselves with delight, but does this building say anything about the revered company it shares with this location?
Built by the CIT Group, the financial services company, press releases are calling the CIT Building “New York’s newest Fifth Avenue landmark”. Hmm, maybe if they put a really interesting store into the unfinished street-level retail space.
I do recommend checking out the CIT Building’s interesting lobby, where minimalist light-artist James Turrell has done an installation. I tried to get a picture of the lobby for you, gentle readers, but I was chased out by their security guard who was shouting “NO PICTURES!” Shrug. Just picture a long, featureless white room with completely undecorated surfaces, including the floor. Visitors are bathed in a rotating series of blue, green and red lights, which run along the base and top of the walls. The effect pleasingly reminded me of a posh nightclub men’s room. Other than the lobby, I’d rate the CIT Building a major disappointment and an insult to its neighbors.