The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, also known as the Metropolitan Life Tower or Met Life Tower, and currently being converted into the New York Edition Hotel, is a landmark skyscraper located on Madison Avenue near the intersection with East 23rd Street, across from Madison Square Park in Manhattan, New York City. Designed by the architectural firm of Napoleon LeBrun & Sons and built by the Hedden Construction Company, the tower is modeled after the Campanile in Venice, Italy. It was constructed in 1909 and served as World headquarters of the company until 2005.
It was the world's tallest building for three years, until 1913, when it was surpassed by the Woolworth Building. Currently, the hotel to be located in the clock tower portion of the building has the address 5 Madison Avenue, while the office building covering the rest of the block, occupied primarily by Credit Suisse, is referred to as 1 Madison Avenue. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978, and a New York City landmark in 1989.
A three-year exterior restoration project, which saw much of the building covered in scaffolding, ended in 2002 and added a new, computerized, multicolored nighttime lighting system, much like that of the Empire State Building; the colors change to denote particular holidays or important events. The gilded cupola at the very top of the building serves as an "eternal light" which stays illuminated even after the rest of the lighting system has been turned off for the night. The building figured prominently in the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company's advertising for many years, illustrated with a light beaming from the top of its spire and the slogan, "The Light That Never Fails".
In March 2005, SL Green Realty Corp. bought the tower, intending to convert it to apartments. In May 2007, the tower and adjacent air rights were subsequently sold for $200 million to Africa Israel Investments. In 2011, Tommy Hilfiger and a partner signed a contract to buy the building for $170 million, planning to transform it into Hilfiger's first hotel, with luxury condos. However Hilfiger backed off the project in September 2011. Africa Israel then sold the tower to Marriott International in October 2011 for $165 million. Marriott announced in January 2012 that they are converting the tower to the New York Edition Hotel. "Edition" is Marriott's boutique hotel line, run in association with Ian Schrager.
The three Edition hotels, in London, Miami and New York, were sold by Marriott in January 2013 for $815 Million to the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. The New York property will be conveyed to its new owner on its completion in 2015. Marriott will continue to manage the hotels under long-term contract.