- READER REVIEWS
The MetLife Building's distinct octagonal shape has straddled the steel canyons of Park Avenue since 1963. Built by the renowned architectural firm Emery Roth and Sons, with design consultants Pietro Belluschi and Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, the former Pan Am building is among America's best examples of Brutalism—an architectural movement known for its use of concrete and blockish forms. With the style’s decline after the 1970s, ascending value has made the building home to some of the most expensive real estate in Midtown, but the 58-story tower is perhaps most notorious for dwarfing the regal Helmsley Building in front of it, once considered the centerpiece of Park Avenue. Official tours of the skyscraper ended after 9/11, but self-guided tours don’t require much more than passing by the uninspiring ground floor shops—Cucina & Co., Godiva Chocolates, NYSC, Café Centro, etc.—in the gray granite north lobby. A 2002 renovation opened the space up by removing the central staircase, but it still pales in comparison to the genuinely iconic Grand Central Terminal next door. Longtime New Yorkers may remember a helicopter accident on the building's rooftop helipad in 1977 that killed five people, but these days the only thing that passers-by are likely to glimpse landing up top are one of the Peregrine falcons that nest on the MetLife sign.