The Lipstick Building (also known as 53rd at Third) is a 453 foot (138 meters) tall skyscraper located at 885 Third Avenue, between East 53rd Street and 54th Street, across from the Citigroup Center in Manhattan, New York City, United States. It was completed in1986 and has 34 floors. The building was designed by John Burgee Architects with Philip Johnson. The building receives its name from its shape and color, which resemble a tube of lipstick.
At three levels, blocks of the building recede as part of Manhattan’s zoning regulation in which the building is required to recede within its spatial envelope, to increase the availability of light to street level. The result is a form that looks as though it could retract telescopically. The shape, which is unusual in comparison to surrounding buildings, uses less space at the base than a regular skyscraper of quadrilateral footprint would use. This provides more room for the high numbers of pedestrians who travel via Third Avenue.
At the base, the building stands on columns which act as an entrance for a vast post-modern hall. They are two stories high and separate the street from the nine-meter high lobby. Because the elevators and emergency staircases are located to the rear of the building, this area is “hollow”.
The exterior of the building is a continuous wall of red enameled Imperial granite and steel. The ribbon windows are surrounded by gray frames. In between each floor is a small line of red which is taken from the red color of lipstick. The curvature of the building allows light to reflect off the surface at different places.
The company that owned the building filed for bankruptcy in 2010.
Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities leased the 17th through 19th floors. Madoff operated his $65 billion Ponzi scheme, which came unraveled in 2008, from the 17th floor, which was occupied by no more than 24 employees.