The Olympic Tower was built in 1976 and was the first skyscraper to combine shops, offices and owner-occupied luxury apartments in the same building.
The Olympic Place Gallery is a 10 meters high through-block public arcade of gray granite, with potted trees and a waterfall. It also has a connection to a concourse level with retail spaces.
There is a separate entrance to the apartments from 51st Street. The apartments have 3-meter ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. In accordance with the targeting of apartment sales, the occupants have been to a notable degree from Europe and the Middle East.
On the north side there is a protruding setback and a wing extending through the block to 52nd Street.
The building replaced the Best & Company Store (1947, Shreve, Lamb & Harmon), although the first, 1970 designs by the original architect Morris Lapidus had the neighbouring Olympic Airlines Building replaced instead.
The whole facade is clad in brown-tinted glass which gives the 189 meters tall building a solid, almost black, and highly reflective surface.
The development utilized the air rights of all of the buildings on the blockfront facing Fifth Avenue, and allegedly also the use of air rights above St. Patrick's Cathedral was considered.
The framework of the building consists of the unusual arragement of a steel frame for the lower 21 floors and a concrete frame of in-situ cast walls and slabs for the top 30 floors of residential use.
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