The Dean of Yale School of Architecture until 2016, Robert A. M. Stern has partnered with Liz Waytkus, executive director of Docomomo US to create a film that raises awareness about the preservation of Philip Johnson’s prominent Post-modern icon, the AT&T Building. Emphasizing the importance of Philip Johnson’s skyscraper, this film titled “Why the AT&T Building Matters” has been recently published by the Metropolis Magazine.
Robert A. M. Stern is a New York-based architect, professor, and founder of the architectural firm, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, now known as RAMSA.
Known as one of the most controversial debates of 2017, the historic AT&T Building, usually referred to as “550 Madison Avenue”, is at risk of losing some of its original architectural features. The Post-modern building was originally built in 1984 by Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Philip Johnson and architect John Burgee.
This film is not Stern’s first attempt to preserve the AT&T building. Previously, he was among over 20 protestors on Madison Avenue who displayed their disapproval of the new redesign of the landmark and he held a sign saying “Hands off of my Johnson”.
Many architects do not consider Postmodernism as a worthy architectural movement, which is one of the reasons why Postmodern buildings from the 80s are continuously at risk of demolition and renovation.
Proposals by Snøhetta to renovate the AT&T building have ignited this debate on preservation as their designs include replacing the signature stone-clad facade with tasteless undulating glass, as an attempt to make the building more integrated with the street.
Unfortunately, the demolition of the iconic Postmodern lobby has already been finished. However, the process of designating the building as an official New York Landmark continues in order to protect the exterior facade of the controversial AT&T skyscraper.