snøhetta has been commissioned to reimagine 550 madison avenue, the 1980’s postmodern tower designed by philip johnson in midtown, manhattan. the renovation is the first major project to be announced for new york city’s east midtown since its revitalization plan was approved earlier this year. the iconic top of the tower will remain the same, yet the new design will transform the base into an inviting street front with a glass facade. the adjacent public space will nearly double in size with the inclusion of an outdoor garden. 


550 madison avenue, view looking west at updated façade 
image © DBOX (also main image) 

 

 

550 madison’s public space will include an outdoor garden with trees and water to provide a respite from the dense urban fabric of manhattan. the existing mid-block passageway at the rear of the tower connecting 55th and 56th Street will be transformed into a serene public space. by removing neighboring annex building, the design will allow access to open air and daylight while nearly doubling the amount of publicly accessible space. the revitalized public garden makes itself visible from the densely-built streetscape with entrances anchored by vegetation, as well as through the recon gured building lobby as a splash of color that catches the eye.


looking north from 55th street
image © DBOX

 

 

snøhetta re-conceived the façade to dramatically highlight the multi-story arched entry while revealing the craftsmanship of the building’s existing steel structure. the design team re-interprets the building’s monumentality while creating a lively and identifiable public face for passersby. the activity within the lobby, atrium, and first 2 levels of the building will become part of the vibrant energy of the street.


comparison of existing building (left) and snøhetta’s proposed design (right)
image © DBOX


lobby entrance detail on madison avenue
image © DBOX


top of 550 madison avenue, designed by philip johnson and completed in 1984
image by david shankbone

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