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One preservationist’s quest to find where a wall in a landmark midcentury building went

November 23, 2018

Vornado, the company that owns the Gordon Bunshaft (1909-1990) designed building at 510 Fifth Avenue, formerly the Manufacturers Trust Company, has applied to the LPC to install a glass wall in the lobby leading to the elevators. However, Theodore Grunewald, a New York City-based architect and preservationist, who helped lead the efforts to landmark the building’s interior in 2011, has uncovered a problem: the original glass wall, which was in place when the interior was landmarked, is gone. It has been replaced by a plain white wall with a doorway. It is unclear if the wall was taken down with the proper permissions and Vornado has declined to comment. The application for the new wall was first heard by LPC at a hearing in April, but that is before it was known that the original wall was gone. The matter was held over on LPC’s calendar and resurfaced this fall. LPC staff are still reviewing the proposed plans, but without documentation of the original wall, it is unclear how faithful to the original intent the replacement can or will be. DOCOMOMO NY/Tri-State and others will be watching the LPC for its next action on Vorando’s request.

One Preservationist’s Quest to Find Where a Wall in a Landmark Building Went,” New York Times, October 29, 2018.

Manufacturers Trust Company Building, New York City, Charles Evans Hughes III and Gordon Bunshaft, 1954. Photo: Beyond My Ken, Wikipedia