One of New York’s most iconic Postmodern skyscrapers, the Philip Johnson-designed 550 Madison (formerly AT&T Building) is set to receive a major renovation that will completely transform how the building base interacts with the street.
Designed by Snøhetta, the project centers on improving the transparency of its street presence. To do this, the stone facade at the building base will be replaced with a undulating glass curtain wall intended to be more inviting and attractive toward pedestrians, while the existing mid-block public passageway will be opened into a much larger outdoor landscape.
As seen in renderings released with the announcement, the building’s signature ground floor element, its enormous arched entry, will be rendered a shadowy profile of its former self behind the fritted glass curtain wall. The stone on the columns wrapping the building will also be removed, creating a new datum line that makes the rest of the skyscraper appear as if it were hovering.
“From the street, the reconceived façade dramatically highlights the multi-story arched entry while revealing the craftsmanship of the building’s existing steel structure,” explained Snøhetta in a press release. “Scalloped glass references the sculpted forms of fluted stone columns, re-interpreting the building’s monumentality while creating a lively and identifiable public face for passersby. With this increased transparency, the activity within the lobby, atrium, and first 2 levels of the building will become part of the vibrant energy of the street.”
The AT&T Building was originally completed in 1984, designed by Philip Johnson John Burgee Architects as a reaction to the glut of glassy skyscrapers that had been constructed in the city in the previous 30 years. While generally recognized as a seminal pieces of Postmodern architecture, the building was never designated as a city landmark, allowing the renovation to continue forward unimpeded.
Being developed by Olayan America and Chelsfield, the project is estimated to cost $300 million with a completion date set for 2019.
“The re-imagined 550 Madison reflects how we work and live in New York today,” said Snøhetta. “The design sensitively transforms a sculpturally monumental building and celebrates the experience of the building where it meets the street. By updating this inward-looking tower for the 21st century, the redesign will foster a more vibrant, dynamic relationship between the building, the city, and the people who inhabit it.”
Learn more here.