The Chanin Building is a brick and terra-cotta skyscraper located at 122 East 42nd Street, at the corner of Lexington Avenue, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.
Built by Irwin S. Chanin in 1929, it is 56 stories high, reaching 197.8 metres (649 ft) excluding the spire and 207.3 metres (680 ft) including it. It was designed by Sloan & Robertson in the Art Deco style, with the assistance of Chanin’s own architect Jacques Delamarre, and it incorporates architectural sculpture by Rene Paul Chambellan.
The building was designated a New York City landmark in 1978, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
The base of the building boasts black Belgian marble around the store fronts with a bronze frieze directly above depicting scenes of evolution. A second terra-cotta frieze runs the whole length of the lower facade, presenting a dramatic collection of angular zigzags and curvy leaves. The tower rises 22 stories and then thins into a series of setbacks, reaching a total of 56 floors. The top of the building is a series of buttresses that are illuminated from the inside at night, lighting up the recesses in the crown.
In the lobbies, eight bronze reliefs designed by Rene Paul Chambellan perch above ornate bronze radiator grilles. The bronze ornamentation continues in the waves on the floor, mailboxes, and elevator doors extending the general Art Deco style from the outside in. When originally completed, the 50th floor had a silver-and-black high-brow movie theater. This floor and the 51st are now offices joined by a stairwell instead.
Initially a dominant landmark in the midtown skyline, the building had an open-air observatory on the 54th floor. Having been surpassed in height by a number of buildings, most notably the Chrysler Building located across the street, the observatory has been long closed. The self-supporting tower atop the building was the original transmission site for WQXR-FM from 1941 to 1965, when it moved to the Empire State Building.