Metropolitan Life North Building

Metropolitan Life North Building
  1. About the Metropolitan Life North Building in New York
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectureal style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The Metropolitan Life North Building is an Art-deco skyscraper designed in 1929 by Harvey Wiley Corbett and built between 1930 and 1950 in New York, NY.

Metropolitan Life North Building is not the only name you might know this building by though. It is common for companies to want to attach their names to iconic buildings when they move in, or for the general public to come up with nicknames, and this one is no exception. The Metropolitan Life North Building is also known, or has been known as, Eleven Madison Avenue, Metropolitan Life North Annex, or 25 Madison Avenue.

Its precise street address is 11-25 Madison Avenue, New York, NY. You can also find it on the map here.

The building has been restored 4 times over the years to ensure its conservation and adaptation to the pass of time. The main restoration works happened in 1932, 1940, 1950 and 1997.

Building's timeline

Design completed
Construction begins
years ago
  1. 1930 to 1932 - First stage of construction in the eastern area. The architect in charge was Harvey Wiley Cobett.
  2. 1938 to 1940 - Second phase of construction completed. The architect in charge was Harvey Wiley Cobett.
  3. 1946 to 1950 - Third stage of construction northern section and completion. The architect in charge was Harvey Wiley Cobett.
  4. 1994 to 1997 - Interior demolition and reconstruction. Facade renovation. The architect in charge was Haines Lundberg Waehler´s.

Architect and team

Harvey Wiley Corbett was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design. But there was also one other architect involved, as far as we know. We are talking about Dan Everett Waid.

Harvey Wiley Corbett and the other architects already mentioned were in charge of the architectural design, however, architecture is a complex discipline, which usually involves many professionals from different fields, without whom this building would have not been possible. We will surely be leaving out a lot of names here, but here is a list of the people we do know also played their part in making the Metropolitan Life North Building a reality:

  • Starrett Brothers & Eken as the Main Contractor
  • Edward Trumbull, D.Putnam Brinley, Nicholas Pavloff, NC Wyeth, and Griffith Bailey Coale as the collaborating Artist

Architectural Style

The Metropolitan Life North Building can be categorized as an Art-deco building.

The Art Deco movement flourished during the 1920s and 1930s, with many historians marking the outbreak of World War II as its final decline. Even though a couple of decades might not seem as much, the Art Deco movement had a great impact on architecture, and it's widely represented in many American cities due to the development boom that happened during that time.

Art Deco marked the abandonment of traditional historicism and the embracement of modern living and the age of the machine. In architecture, that meant leaving behind the ornaments of Beux-Arts and Neo-Gothic buildings and instead favoring simplicity and visual impact through geometric shapes, clean lines, and symmetrical designs. Ornaments were still an important part of the design, but they became bold and lavish, and were often inspired by ancient cultures or industrial imagery, instead of nature.

The Metropolitan Life North Building was completed in 1950, significantly after what could be considered the end of the Art-Deco movement. It was clearly inspired by the movement, but because it doesen't really fit into the movement's timeline it would be considered as a post-movement or neo-movement.

Especially during modern times, there are less imposed rules when it comes to design. Variety and experimentation are welcome, and architects are given the freedom to take inspiration from a wide range of sources.

Looking at the past for inspiration can be a great starting point for an architectural project, and something which Harvey Wiley Corbett clearly took advantage of to design the Metropolitan Life North Building. Architects may choose to look to the past for multiple reasons. It could be that they want the building to merge with an older surounding, give it the feeling of having been there for longer than it actualy has, personal preference or it might even be a requieremnt from the client.

Spaces & Uses

The Metropolitan Life North Building reaches an architectural height of 449ft (137m). It has a total of 35 floors, 31 above ground and 4 basements, served by 30 elevators, which combined offer a total of 2,152,780 sqf (200,000m2) of usable space.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1950, the Metropolitan Life North Building has mainly been used as Commercial space.

449ft (137m)
4 basements

Materials & Structure

The Metropolitan Life North Building uses a frame structure made of steel columns and concrete slabs.

A frame structure uses a combination of beams and columns to sustain the building's weight. The walls in this case are non-load bearing, which allows for more flexibility when distributing the interior spaces.

The facade is non-load bearing either, as it is common in frame structure type buildings.

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features details of marble and Alabama limestone ornaments.

Other materials found at the Metropolitan Life North Building include, bronze, used for most of the window frames, Tennessee pink marble, seen in decoratives elements and the lobby floor, aluminum , found within the coffered ceiling of the vestibule, plaster, used in ceilings and moldings, and acustic tiles, which were used in the offices ceilings to improve the acoustic comfort.