The residential portion, containing 455 condominium apartments, of this major development is one of the most distinguished in midtown.
A 38-story tower in mid-block at 393 East 49th Street faces on a very attractive plaza that separates it from the 50-story office building at 825 Eighth Avenue, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, that has an illuminated crown and is modeled closely after the great New York Life Insurance Company Building on Madison Park at 26th Street.
To the east of the residential tower, which was designed by Frank Williams, and which has its own pyramidal top similar, but much smaller, than that atop the office tower, are a group of six-story residential buildings located at 350 West 50th Street that are also part of this important complex that also has a large cineplex in its basement. The low-rise buildings surround their own large central courtyard.
Both the low-rise and high-rise portions of the project have pale orange brick fa¿ades with white trim and many corner windows. Although there are no balconies, there are quite a few terraces.
The project was completed in 1989 by William Zeckendorf Jr. The entire complex is on the former, second site (from 1925-1966) of Madison Square Garden, designed by Thomas W. Lamb, which moved to new quarters 17 blocks south on Eighth Avenue.
World Wide Plaza was the key to the redevelopment of Eighth Avenue, which had for decades been one of the city's sleaziest stretches, especially after the relocation of Madison Square Garden, and the avenue in this area had been known mostly for its "porn" emporiums.
The pioneering project was successful in garnering many major prestigious office tenants because of the high quality of its design, its closeness to Rockefeller Center and its relatively low rents at the time of the development.
So important was this project to the future of West Midtown that it was the subject of a book and television special when it was completed.