We were delighted to learn that today, Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the AT&T headquarters building as an individual landmark.
Quoting from the press release, “Today, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) designated the AT&T Corporate Headquarters Building as an individual landmark. This building, later known as Sony Plaza and now 550 Madison Avenue, is an icon of the Manhattan skyline and of postmodern architecture.”
“I am thrilled the Commission has recognized the importance of the AT&T Corporate Headquarters Building,” said Landmarks Preservation Commission Vice Chair Frederick Bland. “This is the building that established postmodernism as a legitimate architectural movement. It deserves to be preserved for future generations.”
The AT&T Corporate Headquarters Building, built between 1978 and 1984, marked a turning point in the history of 20th-century architecture. Designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee as a statement building with powerful, dramatic forms drawing on classical references, it ushered in the era of postmodernism, which represented a departure from modern architecture. It was the world’s first skyscraper associated with this new style.
Prominently located on Madison Avenue between East 55th and 56th Streets, the 37-story office tower is clad with pinkish-gray granite and crowned by a colossal broken pediment, a feature that sets it dramatically apart from other skyscrapers in midtown. Its monumental entrance is flanked by groups of flat arches that originally opened to twin arcades beneath the tower.
The AT&T building, which has generated widespread critical and media attention since its inception, is considered one of the most important postmodernist buildings in the world and is one of Johnson/Burgee’s most celebrated works to this day. Though Sony made alterations to the public spaces on the ground level when it occupied the building in the early 1990s, the handsomely-executed granite facades look much as they originally did, from the round and flat arches at the base to the peak of the tower’s colossal pediment.
“Today’s designation of 550 Madison as a landmark secures its rightful place among the great architectural staples of New York City,” said Council Member Keith Powers. “I applaud the advocates and groups that understood the significance of this postmodern landmark and fought to ensure its preservation.”