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April 9, 2012

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510 Fifth Avenue Revisited

Posted by Ken Feisel, Art Director
510 Fifth Avenue
510 Fifth Avenue

Today I walked past 510 Fifth Avenue on my way back from lunch and had my first look at the revamped building, which was listed on the 2012 World Monuments Watch and which was the subject of a lawsuit brought by the Coalition to Save MHT.

What struck me the most is how important it is that the original artwork designed for Manufacturers Hanover Trust has been reinstalled, a direct outcome of the litigation. Its presence is really the only thing that makes one think that the building might have had another use, major works of art not commonly being found in retail clothing stores. The bank’s other signature piece—the enormous round vault door—is isolated from the main retail space by a new first floor wall (which also diminishes the diagonal views of the door from the exterior).

But there they are, the massive Harry Bertoia screen gleaming across one end of the second floor of the Joe Fresh store, and his delicate “cloud” sculpture hovering over a clothing display. An interpretive sign in front of the screen explains its presence. The cloud is more of a mystery.

But even without the sign, the sculptures offer a visual clue that something else was once there and suggest an evolution. Certainly, they add personality to the interior.