The Metropolitan Life Tower: Architecture and Ideology in the Life Insurance Enterprise



Fiancial institutions, among them life insurance companies, are prominent builders and owners of skyscrapers. These institutions are known for their corporate headquarters, symbolic markers on the cityscape— one thinks of the TransAmerica Building in San Francisco, the John Hancock Building in Chicago, or New York Life’s recent television campaign featuring their 1920s Madison Avenue home office.1 The imprint of these powerhouses of capital on the urban landscape is more extensive than the singular architectural event, as mortgages, bonds, and philanthropic activities direct the financial sector’s funds and visions into the built and human structures of the city. However, the skyscraper headquarters is the corporation’s public face, occupying space in the city and providing a visual object to which a range of corporate values and products are linked and marketed to the public.


Life Insurance Life Insurance Company Employee Welfare Commercial Real Estate Clerical Worker 
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© Elspeth H. Brown, Catherine Gudis, and Marina Moskowitz 2006

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