2. MetLife Building (Previously Pan Am Building) – 1963

MetLife Building designed by Emery Roth and Sons

Project X was the first project Richard Roth Jr. was assigned to when he entered his family’s firm in 1957. Project X was a high-profile skyscraper to be built behind Grand Central Terminal. Roth was tasked with creating a list of architects for the firm to collaborate with. From that list, Walter Gropius and Pietro Belluschi were chosen by the developer.

Project X, of course, was the Pan Am Building, now the MetLife Building. In Emery Roth and Sons’ original designs, the building was made of aluminum and glass, reached 57 stories, and ran from north to south. When Gropius and Belluschi came onto the project, the tower was reoriented to run east to west, while granite and pre-cast concrete replaced much of the aluminum and glass of the facade.

You can hear Richard Roth Jr. discuss the design and construction of the Pan Am building in an exclusive sit-down talk recorded for Untapped New York Insiders.

A fun fact about the MetLife building is that it once had a helicopter deck on its roof with service to the Pan Am terminal at JFK International Airport!