Predating the neighboring XYZ towers by nearly a decade, 1271 Avenue of the Americas was the first of the four Rockefeller Center expansion towers commissioned to Wallace Harrison – including X, Y, and Z (1211, 1221, and 1251) – and the first Rockefeller tower west of Sixth Avenue when it opened in 1959. Today, the 45-story, 2 million-square-foot tower is certified Silver under LEED for Existing Buildings, Version 2.0. Located between 50th and 51st Streets, the tower is less vertical than Harrison’s XYZ towers yet still an impressive example of the International Style. It’s also a New York City historical landmark and still owned today by the Rockefeller Group, which sold its interest in the Rockefeller Center towers east of Sixth Avenue to Japan’s Mitsubishi Estate in the mid-1980s.
At the time it was completed, the Time-Life Building’s 28,000-square-foot column-free floor plates were the largest in the world. (You can see the exterior limestone-clad structural columns spaced generously between the building’s green-tinted glass and aluminum mullions). It was also Manhattan’s largest slab-style tower at the time it was built until the other XYZ towers were completed. Tenants today hail from the highest levels of media and publishing: Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, People, Money, and other magazines call 1271 Avenue of the Americas home. In 2006, the SportsNet NY television network moved into street-level studio space.
In 2011, the Time-Life Building earned a LEED for Existing Buildings (Version 2.0) Silver rating from USGBC, scoring 44 points. And, in 2012, the tower went through a vigorous LED lighting retrofit project, replacing existing fluorescent tubes with LEDs. The project reduced electricity consumption due to lighting by 60 percent and received ConEd incentives covering 20 percent of the up-front cost. A decade earlier, an aggressive capital improvement program installed a unique heating and cooling plant that allows the Time-Life Building to switch between natural gas, steam, and electrical power in order to optimize building operations and receive the most favorable pricing. That program also included upgrades to the lobby – which features stainless steel paneling and large murals by Fritz Glamer and Joseph Albers – and the building’s large streetside plaza areas.
Along with in-building access to the Sixth Avenue subway lines and the Rockefeller Center shops below, the Time-Life Building remains as chic and desirable a corporate address today as it did when it opened its doors over 50 years ago.
- 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York
- Rockefeller Center
- LEED–EB V2.0, Silver
- Rockefeller Group
- Harrison, Abramovitz & Harris
- Year Built
- Square Footage
- 2 million square feet; 28,000–square–foot, column–free floor plates
- New York City landmark; earned 44 LEED–EB credits; notable tenants include Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, People, and Money magazines.