This site represents one of the many “holdout” stories that dot New York City’s architectural landscape, albeit with a twist. Here, St. Peter’s Church agreed to sell their existing 1903 building for the development of a new Citicorp headquarters, but as they could not find another site they wanted in Midtown, the decision was made to build a new church in the same location with a massive skyscraper cantilevered over it. Hugh Stubbins and Associates, a Cambridge-based firm, (recently featured), designed the complex in association with Emery Roth & Sons. According to Robert A. M. Stern’s New York 1960, which has a section on the Citicorp project, Edward Larrabee Barnes was also affiliated with the project as an adviser to the church.
The interior of the church was designed by Vignelli Associates, including furniture, fabrics, ceremonial objects and even interior colors. The main entrance is on 54th Street with the sanctuary below street level but visible through large vertical windows.
The exterior cross is by Arnaldo Pomodoro, behind which can be seen the organ structure. Besides the cross, there are numerous significant artworks and installations in the church designed by noted artists, including the entire Chapel of the Good Shepherd, designed by Louise Nevelson. The church’s website has a comprehensive section on the artworks and building as a whole.
The tower, which is not the main focus of this article, was the fourth largest building in New York City when built, although Paul Goldberger, in his New York Times review, noted that the aluminum skin made the skyscraper feel light for such a massive building. The complex also includes a low-rise atrium mall and a major public plaza with subway entrance improvements, water features, and numerous stepped terraces.