550 Madison Avenue Officially Given Landmark Status

Written By Julia Troy | August 02, 2018
2018%2f08%2f02%2f15%2f01%2f21%2f7b083710 34fd 4739 b8d6 de351ff679d4%2f550%20madsion%20ave%20elegran%20

After months of speculation, a decision has finally been made to grant landmark status to 550 Madison Avenue. The Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) recently announced that the exterior of this iconic Midtown East building is now a designated landmark, meaning that any alteration, reconstruction, demolition, or new construction that could impact the building’s exterior will now need to be approved by the LPC before moving forward. 

550 Madison Avenue was designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee, who were commissioned by AT&T. Once it was completed in 1984 it became clear that it was too large for AT&T would not be able to fully occupy the tower, and it was instead leased to Sony, which purchased the building in 1990. 550 Madison Avenue is often considered to be the first “postmodern” skyscraper, which stands out among its glassy neighbors due to its granite exterior and pinkish-gray color. In the early 90s, Sony hired Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman Architects to make changes to the base of the building, but many of its original unique features remain intact.

“This is the building that established postmodernism as a legitimate architectural movement,” said LPC vice chair Frederick Bland, in a statement quoted by Curbed. “It deserves to be preserved for future generations.”

Since 2016, the building has been owned by Saudi Arabia’s Olayan Group, who purchased it for $1.4 billion. Initially, the group planned to add a new glass facade to the floor of the tower, a proposal which upset preservationists and spurred the move to have the exterior designated a landmark to protect its unique design. 

This past April, RXR Realty purchased a stake in the project, and they and other building stakeholders recently released a statement expressing their commitment to preserving the character of this classic structure. 

“Since acquiring the building, we have taken our role as stewards of this important building very seriously,” a statement issued by the owners read, quoted by Curbed. “We look forward to an ongoing dialogue with the LPC and other stakeholders to preserve 550 Madison’s legacy as a commercial Class A destination in East Midtown, with smart and sensitive modifications to serve modern tenants.”

For now, the future of the 37-story Manhattan tower remains unclear, but this new designation ensures that its unique concrete facade will remain intact for years to come. 

Blog Archive


This information is not verified for authenticity or accuracy and is not guaranteed and may not reflect all real estate activity in the market. © 2021 REBNY Listing Service, Inc. All rights reserved. RLS IDX Data display by Elegran LLC. IDX information is provided exclusively for consumers’ personal, non- commercial use and that it may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing.

Elegran LLC may or may not be the exclusive listing agent of the properties being displayed on Elegran.com. All data displayed on Elegran.com is presented for informational purposes only and should be independently confirmed by all customers. All Information is compiled from both public and private sources including, but not limited to the RLS, MLS and ACRIS; each of which is assumed to be reliable. All information displayed is subject to errors and omissions regarding apartment specifications and final sale prices, and further, any unit listed may have had its listing withdrawn without notice subsequent to such information being compiled. No representation is made as to the accuracy of any description (ie: listing, close sale data, and/or building description) of any building or individual unit. All measurements and square footage are approximate and all information herein should be confirmed by customer and/or their attorney. Elegran LLC, its members, affiliates, and contributors adhere to New Your City, New York State, and United States Fair Housing Laws.