snøhetta re-imagines new york's 550 madison avenue with undulating glass curtainwall

snøhetta re-imagines new york's 550 madison avenue with undulating glass curtainwall

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



    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    architecture news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    492,661 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample