003G.jpg (70445 bytes) New York Architecture Images- Midtown

Beekman Tower formerly the Panhellenic Tower  Landmark


John Mead Howells


3 Mitchell Place/First Ave at East 49th St.




Art Deco


28-storey orange brick tower rises as a simplified shaft with deep-set, brick-spandreled columns of windows. The corners are chamfered and also have similar window openings.


Apartment Building hotel


Prominently sited at the top of Beekman Hill, the Panhellenic Tower (now the Beekman Tower Hotel) is one of the great Art Deco skyscrapers in Midtown Manhattan. Erected in 1927-29 as a residence and clubhouse for women belonging to national Greek-letter college sororities, the Panhellenic Tower provided affordable housing for young college-educated women who were entering the work force in record numbers in the 1920s. Designed by the noted architect John Mead Howells, this striking modernistic building features a square-plan twenty-six story tower with chamfered corners and setbacks. The tower is renowned for its dramatic volumetric massing and bold vertical striping created by deeply recessed window-and-spandrel bays set between narrow piers which rise unbroken from a two-story base to a parapet crown. Though sparsely decorated, the building incorporates handsome Gothic-inspired Art Deco ornament by the leading architectural sculptor Rene Chambellan.

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Although the Panhellenic Tower was only a twenty-three story, 380 room hotel, its brilliant design made it an instant landmark. Howell's tower seemed to rise in one unbroken leap from its three story base containing restaurants and lounges to become one of the city's most vivid examples of vertical force.

The sleek simplicity of the massing, with windows recessed between unbroken piers made the building appear from most angles more like a solid mass than a hollow container.

The Panhellenic was designed as an apartment hotel and clubhouse for women college graduates.  While the individual rooms were decorated in a common manner, the public spaces were notable.

In the lounge at the top of the tower, dark tones and sinuous patterns on the walls helped hide the room's awkward shape.  Tall lancet windows and French influenced furniture gave the room a note of romantic mystery.