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New York’s Seagram Building Debuts 'The Playground'

New York’s Seagram Building Debuts 'The Playground'
14 September 2022 | Updated 15 September 2022

As building owners race to offer tenants unique and compelling spaces, a New York real estate development company is blurring the lines between work and recreation with its latest offering.

Designed in 1958 by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the Seagram Building has been lauded as an architectural masterpiece. Located on Park Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, it is regarded as one of the world’s finest office properties.

A Class A+building with more than 820,000-square-feet of space, it was originally designed as the HQ for the Canadian distillers Joseph E. Seagram's & Sons, and was built between 1956-58. New York's Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the building and its plaza as a landmark in 1989.


"Long before the pandemic, we recognised that parking garages in our buildings represent valuable space that could be better used to benefit our tenants."

–Sheldon Werdiger

Head of Marketing and Design Development, RFR




New Incentives to Return to the Office


Since the pandemic, building owner RFR has been working with its corporate tenants to look for incentives that would encourage their employees to return to the office, after more than two years of working from home.

Their answer is a $25 million recreation, fitness and conference space, fulfilling RFR’s vision to "breathe oxygen into the workplace" by offering tenants "a whole life" – a community where people can work, socialise and exercise.



Picture: a photograph of a breakout area within The Playground. Image Credit: RFR


The Playground has a fitness centre, a multi-sport open court, a 22-feet-tall climbing wall, stadium seating for 150, a 50-seat boardroom and 40-seat training room.

The open court, designed for basketball, pickleball, volleyball and soccer, can be transformed into a 150-person theatre for town hall meetings and large-screen presentations. With the push of a button, the court south's wall opens, and eight tiers of polished wood seating cascade onto the court.



Picture: a photograph of a multi-sport area, showing a climbing wall and a sports court. Image Credit: RFR


The expanse and cost of The Playground is thought to make it unique in New York commercial real estate. RFR cleared the way for the bilevel multi-sport complex by restructuring the building's underground parking garage.

"Long before the pandemic, we recognised that parking garages in our buildings represent valuable space that could be better used to benefit our tenants," said Sheldon Werdiger, RFR’s Head of Marketing and Design Development.

"At the Seagram Building, we saw an opportunity to create something extraordinary that will ensure it continues to remain the most celebrated office building in the world."


Gaining New Tenants


The Seagram Building lost major tenant Wells Fargo just before the pandemic in 2020, but RFR has now leased 95 per cent of that space to new tenants, a success that RFR attributes to its investment in The Playground.

Sheldon continued: “Post-COVID, employers realise that they must make their office space more compelling than working from home in order to respond to the evolving work culture and encourage employees to return.”

“Everyone who works in the Seagram Building now will gain, essentially, a free gym membership and a place to socialise with their coworkers – benefits they would not enjoy staying at home."

The Playground is managed by Arch Amenities Group of Rockville, Maryland.

Picture: a photograph of the exterior of the Seagram Building. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 14 September 2022


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