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Your Location: World North America U.S.A. New York New York City Fred F. French Building

Fred F. French Building


Fred F. French Building
551 Fifth Avenue


Structure in General

existing [completed]
applied masonry
Art Deco


commercial office


  • There is a 17-story-tall slab, only two bays wide, rising straight from a multitude of small setbacks grouped at its foot to a triplex penthouse.
  • The tower was constructed for the real-estate company of Fred French.
  • This was the tallest building on Fifth Avenue when it was completed.
  • Fred F. French Building is one of the first Deco skyscrapers with a flat roof.
  • Located in the Grand Central Business District, the building borders on the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Forty-fifth Street.
  • It is conveniently located within close proximity to public transportation, major hotels, elegant restaurants, and exclusive retail stores.
  • MetLife purchased the building in 1985 and immediately began a major capital renovation which included a lobby renovation and modernization of the ten passenger elevator cabs.
  • Upon completion of the full refurbishment and upgrade program, 551 Fifth Avenue was recognized by BOMA with its 1994/1995 Historic Building of the Year Award.
  • Babylonian constructions inspired the building's design and decorations.
  • It is decorated with colorful polychromed faience panels.
  • The main lobby's decorative ceiling was completely repainted and the plaster trim re-gilded to replicate the original patterns and colors.
  • Bronze-framed storefronts at the base of the building include a combination of old and new components that recall the spirit of the original retail facade.
  • Constructed in 1927 by the architectural firm of H. Douglas Ives, the building is composed of limestone, brick and terra cotta and the design features setback roofs on various floors.
  • Composed of the finest materials and finishes, the interior features Roman travertine floors, St. Genevieve marble walls, cast bronze elevator doors and patterned glass chandeliers.
  • 551 Fifth Avenue was designated a National Landmark in 1986.

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More Information


551 5th Avenue, at 45th Street

Technical Data

429.01 ft

Involved Companies


Also recorded for this building:

developer, owner, property management

Features & Amenities

  • City landmark