Fifth Ave and E 26th St, 1909
The Manufacturers Hanover Trust glass cube on Fifth Avenue is finance made transparent. Designed in 1954 by S.O.M. it was landmarked in 1997 implying that New York would forever have this jewel box to admire. And when a building is a glass box, achieving an unimaginable degree of transparency, the inside is as important to protect as the exterior. Much has been written about the loss of the Bertoia bronze screen, destruction of the black granite wall behind the safe displayed in the Fifth Avenue windows, the reorganization of the interior, moving of the escalators and the like. [AN, Design Observer, NYTimes]
But this miraculous vision of modern banking is gone; maybe not ‘Lehman Brothers’ gone, but certainly ‘Bear Stearns’ gone. Whatever low tier clothing manufacturer occupies the space will enjoy only a portion of the building’s real glory. Couture has just become knockoff.
Photograph by Ezra Stoller.
Click through for a photo of the dismantling. I will be in midtown today and I have to go by and see for myself.
My former history of industrial design professor is an archivist for the Century Club across the street. A few weeks ago we stood outside and spoke about what an absolute shame this building has become…
I’ll never understand why NYC enjoys self mutilation. The losses in this city are innumerable; just look at the “graveyard” behind the Brooklyn Museum, hundreds of artifacts from some of NYC’s most significant buildings. Sure, the pieces behind the museum are impressive, but they’re microscopic in comparison to the structures they were lifted from.
The worst part about the loss of the interior is that it is going to be replaced by Joe Fresh, a value-oriented clothing store similar to Forever21, just Canadian. In the end, it wasn’t even necessary for them to remodel the interior, THEY JUST SELL CLOTHES AND MAKEUP! I’m pretty sure they could have used the interior without any significant alterations or demolition.