Contact Us

JPMorgan Plans World's Largest Voluntary Demolition For New HQ, Despite Environmental Concerns

270 Park Ave. in New York, which JPMorgan is tearing down to build a new HQ

JPMorgan Chase's decision to tear down its headquarters at 270 Park Ave. to build an entirely new one is not as much of a win-win-win as New York Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said, according to critics.

The banking giant announced with Mayor Bill de Blasio Wednesday that it would completely demolish what is known to some as the Union Carbide building, which was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and completed in 1961. That 707-foot-tall skyscraper will make way for a 1,200-foot supertall with 2.5M SF of office space, over 1M more than the current footprint.

"This is our plan for East Midtown in action," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a release.

The New York City Council approved a sweeping rezoning bill for Midtown East over the summer designed to encourage new development, partly by relaxing the requirements of air rights sales. JPMorgan is expected to take advantage of the change in dramatic fashion, but in doing so demolish a building that some preservationists, including architecture critic Alexandra Lange, view as a "total corporate work of art."

"There is something unseemly, particularly for a mayor who acts as if he has environmentalist bona fides, [about] crowing over what would be the largest voluntary building demolition in the world," Lange wrote.

New construction can take anywhere from 10 to 80 years to overcome the environmental impact of demolishing and building anew, according to a 2012 study by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 270 Park could prove to be an extreme example, since a 2012 renovation earned it LEED Platinum certification. The sheer size of the building being demolished means an unprecedented amount of discarded building materials, and no plan for recycling them has been released yet.

The U.S. Green Building Council, which gives out LEED certifications, recommends renovation over demolition for the purposes of environmental stability. A shiny new headquarters may be good for JPMorgan's image and occupancy numbers in Midtown East, but it will not come without a cost.