2012 World Monuments Watch
The former Manufacturers Trust Company Building, located at 510 Fifth Avenue in New York City, is a landmark of mid-century modern architecture. The building was designed by Gordon Bunshaft of the American architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, then at the leading edge of International Style design. When it opened in 1954, the public marveled at the steel vault boldly displayed on the ground floor behind a facade of clear glass and aluminum, on one of New York’s busiest streets. A metaphor for honesty and transparency in banking, and a symbol of a self-confident era, the building influenced the design of commercial architecture worldwide. The new branch was widely praised by critics, and bank executives took great pride in a building they thought was its own best salesman. In 1997, the building was designated a New York City landmark. To ensure protection of some of its key features, additional landmark protection for the interior was approved in early 2011. No longer used as a bank, 510 Fifth Avenue is being adapted to a new use and current owners are undertaking renovations that are altering original interior features of its revolutionary design. Local advocates filed a lawsuit, and a temporary restraining order on further alterations was issued contingent on the posting of a bond by the petitioners. The case seeks to preserve an icon of American modern architecture, heralded for its provocative marriage of interior and exterior transparency.
Since the Watch
In February 2012, an agreement was reached to help preserve Gordon Bunshaft's original vision for the design of the building. Major sculptural works by designer Harry Bertoia were reinstalled in the interior and provision was made to prevent the construction of a tower in the airspace above the building by the current or any future owners. A retail store opened in the end of March.