10. The building received lots of negative feedback from top critics
Upon completion, the Pan Am Building was one of the most hated buildings in the city. Ada Louise Huxtable, perhaps one of the most outspoken critics, called the building “a colossal collection of minimums”, with the lobby artwork being a “face-saving gimmick.” The Swedish-born American sculptor Claes Oldenburg mocked the building’s placement through his artwork Proposed Colossal Monument for Park Avenue, NYC: Good Humor Bar. James T. Burns Jr. also wrote that the building’s placement was “occasionally inexcusably jarring,” while the lobby was something of a monolith.
Even after the lobby received a major renovation in the 1980s, the new decorations created “a space that is so forced in its joy, so false and so disingenuous, that they make one yearn for some good old-fashioned coldness,” according to Paul Goldberger of The New York Times. Over time, though, the criticism seemed to wind down, since many preservationists have advocated for maintaining the robust skyscraper and keeping most of its original features.
Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of the Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue!