To paraphrase the famous Blackglama fur advertisements: What becomes a landmark most? Is a building a landmark of architectural design or of architectural taste? Or is it the role it plays in a city’s memory as an embodiment of a set of cultural, economic and political values?
The Union Carbide building, now the headquarters of JPMorgan Chase, on Park Avenue in Manhattan fulfills all these criteria. That is why architectural historians were dumbstruck last week when Chase announced plans to demolish the 52-story glass-curtain-wall skyscraper, which opened in 1961, and replace it with an even bigger structure.
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