Known as 550 Madison Avenue, the 1984 AT&T building in New York City is considered a landmark and a Post-Modern monument. It was originally designed by the Pritzker Prize winner Philip Johnson along with John Burgee, and last year Snøhetta presented a controversial revamp plan for the building.
However, the lobby of the building is getting demolished. Unfortunately, only the exterior of the previous AT&T building is protected by the landmark designation process. This is causing an outrage from all the development and design teams, in addition to New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).
Originally, the remodeling of the lobby was a part of a plan to modernize the former building by building owners Olayan America and Chesfield America. The idea that the lobby lost its value resulted from the 1993 Gwathmey Seigel Kaufman renovation, where the initial design was remarkably altered.
In an official statement, LPC Director of Research Kate Lemos McHale has clarified that the arched lobby lost its monumental value by time. She also notes that the interiors were not as significant as the exterior stone facade, which is uncommon in New York buildings.
She states “[With] the removal of the ‘Golden Boy‘ [statue] as a focal point, alterations within the lobby itself diminished the relationship to the overall design of the base, we have determined that it does not rise to the level of an interior landmark.”
Since people heard that the old AT&T building was under threat, a huge controversy emerged. People against the demolition came together in street protests in an attempt to save the building from being torn down. Among these protesters was architect Robert A.M. Stern, previous Dean of the Yale School of Architecture.