Many buildings in the Financial District were built in the early part of this century. They are assertive buildings, strong in form and bold in scale. Their architects interpreted freely from the language of classical architecture and, with exuberance, employed the full range of compositional elements.
The mid-block site of the fifty-one-story tower extends from Wall Street through to Pine Street. Across the street is 55 Wall Street, an 1842 landmark, from which development rights had been transferred.
The design of the building involved the challenge of devising a tower that was technologically and functionally contemporary, with state of the art communication systems, energy efficient and prepared for computerized offices, yet respected the quality mixture of 19th and early 20th century buildings in the area. It also provided a special opportunity to create a distinctive public space at street level, as a needed respite from the famous narrow canyons of the financial district.
The building is composed as a tower on a podium. The four-story base fills most of the site and carries through the base and cornice lines from neighboring buildings. A 70-foot-high colonnade of paired columns lines both streets, recalling the Greek Revival facade of 55 Wall Street. Above, corner shafts continue the motif of the colonnade in a pattern that manipulates layers of ribbon windows to produce an illusion of bundled pilasters at each corner, with curtain wall stretched between. The green and pink granite of the base is used for the horizontal banding of the tower. At the 42nd floor, the corner projections provide a base for a special order of eight-story pilasters, consisting of stacked bay windows. The pilasters support a clerestory layer, surmounted by a 40-foot-high mansard roof covering mechanical equipment. A lunette graphically caps the upward thrust of the center and integrates the facade. The second, third and fourth floors are large, almost column-free, high ceiling floors, used for trading activities.
At street level is half an acre of covered, landscaped, public indoor park, three stories high. An indoor park was chosen, not only to be useful all year round but to provide an escape from the district's tiny, walled-in streets. Within are fountains flanked by boxed trees, mounds of greenery and flowers, waterfalls, cafes and kiosks. It provides a long-needed respite from the bustle of surrounding streets, a place of rest and peace, a place of refreshment and a place of entertainment and art – a new concept in useful and beneficial urban space.
The J. P. Morgan Bank Headquarters is a distinguished building – distinguished for its architectural appropriateness at the skyline and on the street; distinguished for its advanced technological capabilities; and distinguished for its warm and friendly presence and for the welcoming oasis it provides in this unique part of Manhattan.