Preserving 550 Madison Avenue NYC

Architectural Landmarks are our history in brick, marble, steel, and stone. Architects are the masters of transforming these materials into beautiful works of art and function. But what happens when profitability and business become the goal when proposing to change an Architectural treasure in a large city? This happened here in NYC with the contentious battle to preserve Philip Johnson’s ode to post modernism at 550 Madison Ave building (ATT Building)

After an almost certain death of this structure and a go ahead to re-imagine the building’s famous façade, there was a miracle. After a nearly yearlong passionate effort to preserve this building, on July 31, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously voted to designate the 37-story office tower’s exterior a New York City landmark. In the fall of 2017 the Architectural firm Snøhetta was chosen to re-imagine the skyscraper as a contemporary office space with a transparent base to allow more room for public space. That didn’t set well with many Architecture preservationists, and the push to have it land marked got underway immediately. Examples of Architectural movements are the legacy of those who were the creators and innovators of a new way to build and design.

Madison Avenue has always been a posh and upscale area of NYC with new constructions abounding embracing modernity and emerging styles and integrating them with classic old buildings. But what about the history? The homage and reverence to those who paved the way, who initiated this new way to create? Their contributions to society should be preserved. When the campaign started over social media there was an instant response from Architects, Designers and lovers of design. There was a protest outside the building that drew attention to the need for landmark status that drew not only artists and designers but citizens who love this building and did not want to see this historic Architecture changed by this new renovation.

There is power in numbers, in a united voice championing something that should be preserved. This is what brought the fate of 550 Madison Avenue to the forefront for the LPS.

After months of deliberation the right decision was made and the façade will remain without a new canopy and the renovation can take place in the inner structure but the outside, Philip Johnson’s post modern story will remain.

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