The biggest and tallest building on the East River downtown waterfront.
The development is built on a superblock created from four joint city blocks -- an arrangement made in co-operation with the Office of Lower Manhattan Development, which expected provision of public amenities in return.
The Whitney Museum of American Art established a branch museum in the building, space being rented for a token fee and operating costs paid by several Wall Street corporations.
The plaza was originally designed as a part of a series of high-level public spaces along East River, to be connected with walkways running above the street level.
To the north of the tower is a 15-storey wing with a sloping facade and terraces facing the river and, in front of it, an elevated plaza on top of a parking garage, reachable by a high escalator ride.
The 4,800 m² plaza by M. Paul Friedberg & Assocs. is clad in the same red brick tiles as his Jeannette Park to the south of the building.
The facade of the tower slab uses variably vertical and horizontal striping for decoration, the grid pattern of the lower facade changing to vertical striping for the upper three-fourths.
When it opened in 1972 55 Water was the largest office building in the world.
The building is of basic International Style, contrasting with the neighbouring Two New York Plaza of the same era.
Largest building in New York by floor area; the only building in the country with a larger floor area is the Sears Tower in Chicago.
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