BUILDINGS - Smarter Facilities Management


Anatomy of a Building

300 Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan opens its doors to tenants CIBC


Alternating bands of stone and glass, with metal accents on the base, create a distinctive look for 300 Madison Avenue, New York City.

The Power of Dreams (and Reality) at CIBC

CIBC Project Consultant John T. Griffin recalls the euphoria of the June 21, 2001, groundbreaking ceremonies for 300 Madison Avenue, but points to the fact that nearly two prior years of careful examination and needs analyses were involved before shovels first turned the earth. Efforts to create a building that would act as the U.S. headquarters of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) had to be deliberate, planned, measurable, and achievable. “The hardest part of doing a building is designing it on paper so it really works,” says Griffin. “The easy part is actually building it.”

The process, however, was long and laborious - and adapted in both features and tenancy expectations because of the tragic events of 9/11. Griffin, a 25-year-plus veteran of the New York real estate market, made every inch of the design count with CIBC spaces created by New York City-based interior architect Mancini Duffy. “You design buildings from the inside out,” notes Griffin. By redesigning the building core to make it as tight as possible, for example, floorplates on each of the office floors maximized efficiency for workstations and filing. Other solutions were beyond creative. Trading floorspaces, for instance, embraced outside views - a novelty first utilized by CIBC when operations at the World Financial Center were ravaged and required a quick fix with adapted space on Fifth Avenue. Growth patterns, adjacencies, HR issues, and other criteria helped determine square-footage needs.

“The intent of the CIBC interiors was to create a sense of permanence,” says Project Designer Alan Dandron, Mancini Duffy. “The spaces have a traditional - but not overly traditional - feel to them. They’re not heavy or dark; we didn’t want the space to appear oppressive. But we also didn’t want them to be over the top or ostentatious.”

In fact, much of the interiors offer a restful, residential feel - a surprising solution to what could have been vast open areas by the relatively unencumbered floorplates. “CIBC spaces are a complement to the contemporary vein of the building shell and lobby by offering traditional elements that play off various elements, i.e. slightly vaulted ceilings; painted moldings and trims; ‘neighborhoods’ within the space,” explains Dandron. “The underlying concept for the general space, however, was about creating a flexible planning module.”

Paul Duffy, who came on-board as CIBC’s project manager as the bank’s interiors were being constructed, notes, however, that each of the floors were clearly customized to business users’ needs. “One example might be our trading floor, which is a wide open concept of rows and rows of people at workstations and tons of technology. You walk in the area and there’s literally hundreds of computer screens relaying market information to the professionals that trade,” he says. “The extreme opposite is our equities research group, where everyone needs a private office. We had to make that particular floor very, very office-intensive.

“I know we’ve surpassed the standards. What I hope people will say in the end is that we’ve made a lot of very sensible, appropriate decisions to the space to maximize efficiency while offering a great look and feel. And from everything I know, we’ve done it pretty efficiently in terms of the budget.” In fact, Structure Tone completed the CIBC interior construction substantially under budget.

Griffin agrees, taking pride in the fact that this project represents his swan song - a collaboration and culmination of know-how among some of the industry’s top project executives. “Real estate has always been a relationship business,” he says. “And the synergies of this team - in both professionalism and creative solutions - embody that statement to the max.”

Last in a Series ...

When the industry wonders if the gap between cutting-edge technology and state-of-the-art design can ever be truly bridged, they need only look at 300 Madison Avenue, New York City. The project - co-owned by developer Brookfield Properties Corp. and tenant Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), and serving as the U.S. headquarters of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) - beautifully melds the classic modernism of renowned architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; the skilled professionalism of owner-manager Brookfield Properties; and the experience and savvy of the project officials involved from the CIBC. It’s a consensus of market drivers, entrepreneurial talent, and visionary direction. Among many of the professionals involved, it also represents a true labor of love.

Clad in alternate bands of stone and glass, with metal accents on the base, the 1.2-million-square-foot tower was built to the highest standards. Multiple levels of office space rest atop an 8-story base consisting of three trading floors, two office floors, a technology floor, and a dramatic 2-story lobby finished in marble and granite. Below ground, 2.5 floors comprise an event area (housing elaborate food services), which enjoys natural light introduced by an innovative (and welcome) light well created between the lobby and lower levels. The interiors interpret the facade theme in finishes of metal, glass, and custom millworking.

Security was custom-designed to the sophisticated needs of both tenants, and includes camera surveillance encircling the perimeters and in all elevators; security film laminating glass on floors 2 through 8; two diverse points of entry for all communications; manned security; and computerized access provided through a combination of tenant ID card access and turnstiles. In addition to the camera surveillance, exterior security is further enhanced through bollards near the entrances of the parking garage and loading dock. Hardscaping also rings the perimeter.

Life safety measures extend well beyond New York standards. They include an additional sprinkler riser; an additional hour of fireproofing property-wide; a 60,000-gallon make-up water tank that would go into operation in the event of a loss of city water; and domestic water tanks holding 24 hours of additional storage for the trading floors. The building is also equipped with emergency power for all life support and critical functions equipment, and was designed to provide a maximum power of 10,250 KW to provide for seamless operations of the tenants’ high-technology functions.

In first-quarter 2005, 300 Madison Avenue received the affirmation of its success from a hard-to-impress audience: It won the coveted Pinnacle Award as New York BOMA’s best New Construction 2004. As the building moves on through regional and national recognition, it stands as a bold new lesson in collaboration, agility, and permanence in both its own market as well as globally.

Linda K. Monroe ( is editorial director at Buildings magazine.

The Consummate Developer: Brookfield Properties Corp.

Thirty-plus months after groundbreaking, the latest project in Brookfield’s North American portfolio opened its doors at 300 Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan - the first office tower constructed in the United States by Brookfield Properties Corp., based in Toronto, ON, with U.S. offices in New York City. Comprising 1.2 million square feet within 35 above-ground stories, the building’s elevated block-long lobby features an 8-story atrium rising above the building’s main entrance on the corner of 42nd and Madison. From upper floors, tenants PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) are provided with unimpeded views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. The property also boasts state-of-the-art technology, column-free floorplates, and enhanced security features that include laminated glass, reinforced columns, and two independent sprinkler risers.

Most remarkable, according to Brookfield Properties Corp., is that the project - fraught with obstacles that ranged from the painstaking demolition of the asbestos-laden original properties; steel erection during one of Manhattan’s coldest winters; building at one of North America’s busiest pedestrian intersections, which is only 8 feet from two subway lines; and weathering the 9/11 tragedy - has been completed on time and under budget. Brookfield attributes this success to a small and dedicated team of project professionals who understood the business, brought on-board quality sub-contractors, and approached the job with great discipline. Now, one of the world’s most famous intersections boasts a great, gleaming new building that provides the very best in form and function.

Framework for the Future: PricewaterhouseCoopers’ U.S. Headquarters

In first-quarter 2003, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC (PwC), the global provider of industry-focused assurance, tax, and advisory services for public and private clients, began to seek a new site in which to consolidate its U.S. headquarters offices in New York City (formerly at 1177 and 1301 Sixth Ave.). Serious negotiations ensued in July with respect to 300 Madison Avenue, and the resulting 30-year lease on 789,243 rentable square feet of space involves 27 floors of the building, specifically the tower floors of 11 through 35 and the lower-level areas of C1 and C2. The base structure - core and skin - were completed; PwC, however, clearly recognized the advantages of the timing of the deal.

“We were able to start with a clean slate, and it was an advantage because of the good floorplate that was presented - column-free and great outside views,” recalls Robert V. Bourne, project leader for the PwC acquisition of space and the move. “This first-class facility had all the proper amenities, in the sense of safety, security, power, and communications, and by surveying our partners and employees, we realized another advantage for commuters in the building’s location near Grand Central Station.”

Bourne notes that Turner Interiors and The Philips Group (TPG), both of New York City, provided build-out and design, respectively. One of the key elements, according to Bourne and Nancy Tine, director of The Workplace at PwC, was to offer occupants and visitors a sense of continuity when leaving the main lobby area and entering PwC spaces. “While our elevator lobbies - glass on one side and wood on the other - mimic the building lobby, the design and materials are almost symbolic of the transition all professional firms are going through in this millennium,” explains Bourne. “We have a more upbeat, open, airy atmosphere.”

Tine concurs with this assessment, adding that the company’s philosophy about projects moving forward “is really about improving the quality of our space. Previously, we had focused on how we used space and how we could use it more efficiently. Add to that a new focus toward greater quality, increased collaboration, and a way in which all employees can enjoy the views and light, and the culmination of that evolution is reflected here.”

A universal floorplate throughout 19 of the 25 upper floors enables true flexibility when churn and organizational moves require a shift. “If the needs of a particular part of the practice have to change, it’s simply a box move,” says Bourne.

Entirely wireless-enabled, but heavily hard-wired as well, the working environment at 300 Madison Avenue ensures little to no downtime for PwC employees - and the flexibility to pick up a laptop and move from an office to a conference area as needs and collaboration require. “That really supports how we anticipated people would use the space,” explains Tine.

The Dining and Events Center on the lower level offers the finest of cuisines and a comfortable place in which to relax with colleagues during break. Yet, its design encourages multiple uses - whether that event is a cocktail function or a banquet after-hours - with glass walls that change color and a flexible floorplan that expands or contracts easily at will.

PwC’s U.S. headquarters offers the best of the best. But Bourne and Tine put it very simply, in a statement that says it all: “We’re very happy here.”


Owner/Tenant: Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
John Griffin, CIBC Project Consultant
Paul Duffy, Project Manager, CIBC, 300 Madison Avenue
Owner/Developer: Brookfield Financial Properties
Al San Filippo, Brookfield Project Executive
Construction Manager: Turner Construction Co.
Project Manager (CIBC): Advocate Consulting Group
Interior Architect (CIBC): Mancini Duffy
Architect (Base Building/Core & Shell): Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LP
Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing Engineer (CIBC): Flack + Kurtz Inc.
MEP Engineer (Core & Shell): Jaros Baum & Bolles
Structural Engineer (CIBC): Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers
Structural Engineer (Core & Shell): Gilsanz, Murray, Steficek LLP
Geotechnical Consultant (Core & Shell): Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers
Cost Consultant (CIBC): Michael N. Gussis & Co. Inc.
Vertical Transportation (CIBC): Van Deusen & Associates
Security Consulting (CIBC): Kroll Schiff & Associates
Lighting Consultant (CIBC): Cline, Bettridge, Bernstein Lighting Design Inc.
Construction Manager (CIBC): Structure Tone

Products Used (CIBC Spaces)
Carpet (Tile): Lees
Carpet (Custom): Bloomsburg
Draperies: DFB
Millwork/Custom Stairwell: Petersen Geller Spurge
Furniture (Custom Boardroom Table): Walter P. Sauer
Furniture (Systems): Teknion
Ceilings (Office Areas): Armstrong
Ceilings (Trading Floor): Decoustics
Hardware (Door): Schlage
Wallcoverings (Office Areas): Innovations; Maharam; MDC; Wolf-Gordon
Wallcoverings (Executive Levels): Kravet; Scalamandre
Lists are not all-inclusive


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