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News July 2011

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Interior Landmarking: Notions of protection demolished at 510 Fifth Avenue

July 14, 2011

The photo at right shows interior demolition underway at the former Manufacturers Trust Company building at 510 Fifth Avenue on June 22. Knowing that the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designated this space an interior landmark in April makes the photo all the more shocking. The demolition raises questions at the core of the landmarks law about “appropriateness” when dealing with historic, iconic building elements—especially those in transparent buildings. And questions about the Commission’s willingness to protect and appease in a balance appropriate to a preservation commission. When one of the city’s most highly regarded Modern interiors is stripped to its bones we should be asking questions.

Discussion and debate about the activities at 5th and 43rd will be picking up in the weeks ahead as the advocacy group Citizens Emergency Committee to Preserve Preservation, along with several individual plaintiffs, filed an Article 78 appeal last week that has garnered a temporary stop work order from the courts. We will report on the progress of the lawsuit and share some of DOCOMOMO NY/Tri-State’s views in the process.

Visit the blog of architect James Biber, who took the photo, for a peek at some wonderful Ezra Stoller images of Gordon Bunshaft/SOM’s glass box bank in its prime.

Robin Pogrebin’s NYTimes coverage of the Article 78 appeal challenging the LPC’s Certificate of Appropriateness decision appeared online July 13.

June 22, 2011 photo: © James Biber