L&L Holding Co. – 390 Madison Ave. and 425 Park Ave.

LL 390 madison picDeveloper L&L Holding Co.’s two newest projects in Manhattan demonstrate its expertise with complex buildings.
By Jim Harris

Many developers and contractors would likely look at L&L Holding Co.’s portfolio and be intimidated by the scope and requirements of the projects that the company takes on.

“What makes us unique is our willingness to see the complexity in these projects and make sure they are executed in a meaningful way,” Vice President Jeffrey Davis says. “It takes guts and commitment to see these through. Fortunately, our organization knows how to perform custom complex projects, and we receive support from our chairman and president to take this work on.”

Founded in 2000 by Chairman and CEO David Levinson and President and CIO Robert Lapidus, L&L is a privately held, vertically integrated real estate company. It owns and manages more than 6 million square feet of Class A commercial office properties in New York City.

Two of the company’s ongoing projects in Midtown Manhattan epitomize its ability to tackle extremely difficult developments. L&L is overseeing construction manager Tishman Construction’s work on the remassing of a more than 60-year-old building at 390 Madison Avenue and the construction of an office tower at 425 Park Avenue.

Both projects involve the retention of a portion of an existing building. Midtown Manhattan was downzoned in the 1980s, so if L&L were to tear down either building, they wouldn’t be able to build back to the same size. By retaining 25 percent of the existing structure, L&L is able to maintain the size of the original buildings and complete the projects.

Each project represents a milestone for L&L as well as for New York City. The 390 Madison Avenue project is the most ambitious building remassing in the history of the city, while 425 Park Avenue is the first full-block office development on Park Avenue in nearly 50 years.

A Building Reborn

In October, Tishman Construction topped off the 32-story, 373-foot tall 390 Madison building. The placement of the final beam on the top of the building represented the culmination of a more than 3-year-long effort to transform the building into a future-proof office building, designed to support the way millennials want to work. Construction began in 2014, and the building will be completed next year, Davis says.

In addition to L&L and Tishman, the project team includes design architect Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, executive architect Adamson Associates, MEP Engineering, FMC & Associates, code consultant Rizzo Group and structural engineer Severud Associates.

The project involved removing roughly 160,000 square feet and demolishing 3 million pounds of concrete from the base of the building and creating eight brand-new floors at its top. The building was initially built in 1955 and was 24 stories and 291 feet tall before work began. 

Two interior floors were removed entirely, creating double-height spaces on some of the lower floors. “We have added more light and openness to these floors, and made these spaces more appealing to tenants,” Davis says. “We also created floor openings throughout to support future tenant amenity spaces.”

The original interior of the building was stripped back to its steel structural columns and concrete slabs. “Beyond that, everything in that portion of the building is new,” he adds. LL Holdings box

The building’s steel frame with concrete deck structure was bolstered to handle the structural load from the eight new stories. Several of the building’s columns were reinforced with concrete, and new footings and shear walls were added to its foundation. In addition, the building’s lateral bracing system was removed and replaced with diagonal steel bracing.

Coordinating the building’s structural improvements proved to be a significant challenge. “There was a carefully managed and sequenced erection process that involved a lot of complex communication between the construction engineer and the engineer of record,” Davis says. “We had improvements that we planned to make with steel, some with concrete and sometimes both. It was a challenge to lay those out and get the rebar and couplers to coordinate with the structural steel.”

Building Features

The 390 Madison building has a glass curtainwall covering its exterior, giving each office floor-to-ceiling glass. Sections of the curtainwall include a ceramic frit that will conceal structural support beams by making the glass near those beams opaque.

The curtainwall replaces an overcladding that was placed on top of the building’s original brick exterior during a renovation in the 1980s.

The natural lighting provided by the glass curtainwall is just one element of the building that will make it attractive to tenants. 390 Madison will include 12 outdoor terraces as well as column-free spans throughout its top eight floors. The upper level could also include slab cuts that will allow a single company to be located across two floors connected by staircases. “We are creating spaces that people will feel more compelled to move between,” Davis says.

At street level, the building will include a 23-foot-high main lobby and a dramatic 26-foot-tall chamfered corner retail space facing Madison Avenue. The retail space will include 9,200 square feet of space at grade and 7,000 square feet below grade, L&L says.

The building also features two mechanical penthouses, one of which is located on its roof. The roof penthouse includes a permanent crane attached to a building maintenance unit, which enables movement of window washing gear around the building. Smart Building features can be enabled for both tenants and the building operator utilizing data gleaned from the building-wide fiber network, which connects all the disparate engineered systems and their controllers.

Staying Safe

The exterior of the 390 Madison building includes a fire-resistant curtainwall system provided by SAFTI FIRST. The California-based manufacturer became involved in the 390 Madison project through its relationship with Benson Industries, the glazing subcontractor on the building. SAFTI FIRST provided a one-hour exterior fire-rated wall system on floors eight through 12 of the building’s west elevation, and floors two through eight on the north elevation.

To ensure that the fire-rated glazing matched the aesthetic of adjacent glazing systems, SAFTI FIRST insulated the custom Viracon glass selected by the architect with its SuperLite II-XL 60 glazing. The finish on the fire-resistant aluminum framing system installed by the company – the GPX Architectural Series – also matched the finish of non-rated framing to keep a consistent look, SAFTI FIRST Vice President of National Sales Tim Nass says.

“The combination of SAFTI FIRST’s SuperLite II-XL IGU in and GPX Architectural Series Framing provided an air- and water-tight system with excellent thermal properties,” he adds. “Our ability to provide seamless integration from a visual and performance standpoint made the decision to move forward with SAFTI an easy one. In addition, having the framing system pre-assembled in our manufacturing facility lets us reduce the required field labor and variation that comes outside of a controlled environment.”

In addition to supplying materials for the building’s exterior fire-rated wall system, SAFTI FIRST provided design assist services to Benson Associates and Adamson Associates during the project. “L&L, Tishman and the entire building team was excellent to work with,” Nass says. “Benson and Tishman have a long and successful history together, and that allowed us to have clear lines of communication, ensuring that all critical milestones were achieved on time. The professional environment they created made for a very successful project.”

A New Icon

After spending nearly 10 years to acquire the site and waiting for the existing leases to expire, L&L broke ground on 425 Park in May 2015. The building is slated for completion in 2019.

LL 425 Park copyThe 425 Park building will retain 25 percent of the original 30-story building, primarily on its lower levels. The building was demolished down to its 17th story. Every other floor in the base of the building was demolished in order to create office space with a finished ceiling of 14-foot, 6-inches. Office space like this doesn’t exist anywhere else in New York City, L&L Executive Vice President William Potts says.

Tishman Construction removed the top of the building as well as its existing structural core. Roughly 600 tons of temporary steel bracing have been erected throughout the building to stabilize it while a new shear wall reinforced concrete core is constructed. The new core is now up to the building’s 9th floor. “From the outside, it doesn’t look like we’ve done very much unless you’re looking at the back of the building, but we’ve accomplished a lot inside,” Potts adds.

The new building will stand 47 stories and nearly 900 feet tall. 425 Park will offer 670,000 rentable square feet of space as well as a restaurant and ground floor retail space. The ground floor restaurant will be run by Will Guidara and Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park, which was voted the No. 1 restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine. Humm and Guidara will also provide food service for the private club floor, an amenity floor that is private to the building’s tenants and their guests. Both setback floors, the club floor and the diagrid floor, will feature outdoor terraces on the north and south sides of the building. The building’s exterior features glass curtainwalls on three of its four sides. The back of the building will have an exterior consisting of aluminum panels and windows. The building will have a sheer wall tri-blade top.

The 425 Park Ave. building is designed by Lord Norman Foster of Foster + Partners. In 2012, L&L held a design competition to pick the architect for the project. Nine Pritzker prize-winning architects chose to compete, from which Rem Koolhaus, Richard Rogers, Zaha Hadid and Lord Norman Foster were the 4 finalists. After six months of working closely with the Foster + Partners team, Foster + Partners was selected as the design architect. “This building will be an icon,” Potts says.

Incredible Views

The 425 Park building will feature a 45-foot-high lobby – the tallest lobby in Midtown Manhattan. The building includes three distinct sections of leasable space, with setback floors separating each section. Named for the views that you see from each section, floors eight through eleven are known as the Avenue Floors because they float over Park Avenue.  Floors 15 through 25 are known as the Skyline Floors, as given the low height of the surrounding buildings, occupants have a 360 degree of the NYC skyline. The 28th through 46th levels are dubbed the Park Floors because they offer views of Central Park.

The 47th floor penthouse will feature a ceiling height of 38 feet. The 47th story will serve as office space and have floor-to-ceiling glass and a glass ceiling on the west side of the floor. “The amount of natural light up there and the view people will have from this floor will be incredible,” Potts says.

The diagrid floor on levels 12 and 14 will have a 38-foot-high finished ceiling and floor-to-ceiling glass. The glass surrounding those floors consists of large panes of diamond-shaped sloped glass, each of which is 19-and-a-half by 8-and-a-half feet large.

Three in One

Coordinating the interior demolition work and the design of the diagrid floors was challenging for the project team. L&L is regularly meeting with Tishman, the structural steel and concrete contractors, building engineers and a specialty structural engineering firm to coordinate the sequencing of the interior demolition. “The whole team is working on this together because we have to do this in the right order; if not, we can cause damage to the existing building,” Potts says. “It took a long time to make sure we were doing this properly.”

The 26th story Club Floor and 27th story mechanical mezzanine are required by code to be reinforced by additional bolts and welding. “These floors have been more difficult than we expected,” Potts adds. “We can’t add steel on any of those floors until certain things are completed.”

Constructing the 26th and 27th floors involves a 15-stage process that includes the placement of solid steel nodes on structural columns. The nodes, which are 18 inches thick, 20 feet long and weigh 100,000 pounds each, are being manufactured in Pittsburgh. After that, the nodes will be sent to South Carolina, where they will be welded together. Ultimately, the nodes will be welded to the columns. “The nodes have to be welded together perfectly because they are clad in stainless steel. They have to be surveyed constantly to make sure we’re inside tolerance,” Potts says.

“Structurally, this project is very difficult,” he adds. “It’s almost like having three different structures in one – the base, midrise and diagrid floors are all different and react differently. We have to monitor how the building is reacting to the weight of these structures before we install the curtainwall.”

Working WELL

Both the 390 Madison Ave. and 425 Park Ave. buildings are projected to attain LEED Gold certification. Green building elements in both buildings include the use of energy-efficient lighting, fixtures and mechanical equipment.

Although Potts notes that such materials are commonplace in L&L Holding Co.’s projects, the 425 Park project will take it a step further when it comes to green building. The building is projected to be the first WELL-certified commercial office building in New York City.

The WELL Building Standard focuses on issues affecting the welfare of people in the building. For 425 Park, this has included assuring access to stairwells between floors that tenants can use for exercise, as well as installing additional air filtration and sound insulation systems. “LEED certification is pretty easy for us because that’s how we would build something anyway, but the WELL standard goes a bit further,” Potts says.

What Tenants Want

When completed, both the 390 Madison and 425 Park projects will add to L&L’s stock of high-quality office space in New York City. “Our vision, design-wise, is to develop a building that tenants want to be in,” Potts says. “We want to provide everything that a tenant needs.”

The company’s other ongoing projects include a redevelopment of the retail at 195 Broadway, a 1-million-square-foot Class A office building in downtown Manhattan. The 29-story building was originally built in 1916 and renovated in 1985. The 195 Broadway building is now one of only three retail master plans in New York City, along with Rockefeller Center and Grand Central Station.

Notable past projects include 200 Fifth Avenue, a 14-story building that includes the 260,000-square-foot headquarters of Tiffany and Co. and Grey Advertising, as well as an Eataly location on its bottom floors.

Potts says L&L continues to seek new projects. “We always seem to end up with the most difficult projects, but we always do well on the lease up of our properties, and our tenants have responded very well to them,” he says.


Award Winners

L&L Holding Co. has earned a number of awards for its projects and overall operations in recent years. The Greater New York Construction User Council named the company 2015 Developer of the Year, and L&L’s work on the 390 Madison Avenue project earned the 2016 Merit Award from the American Institute of Architects New York. In addition, its work at 425 Park Avenue earned it a Future Project Award in the office category during the 2017 MIPIM international property conference in France.  

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