The updated renderings show clear glazing and a refreshed central arch.
Courtesy LMNB & Snøhetta The updated renderings show clear glazing and a refreshed central arch.

Five months after New York City's Landmarks Preservation Committee voted to designate the AT&T Building at 550 Madison Avenue an individual landmark, Oslo, Norway– and New York–based Snøhetta has revealed a new pared down scheme for the Philip Johnson– and John Burgee–designed structure. Initial plans for the project made headlines last year when many architects including Robert A.M. Stern, FAIA, protested Snøhetta's original designs.

"The ownership team has worked with ... Snøhetta to preserve the iconic tower while providing modern upgrades and revitalizing the surrounding public space," the firm writes in a release on its website.

Courtesy LMNB & Snøhetta

In the updated plans, Snøhetta will restore the original 60-foot-tall entryway windows and existing façade and brickwork, and retain the ground-level arches, promising 94 percent of the exterior will remain unchanged. The team will replace the existing dark glazing—installed during a 1990s renovation—with clear glazing for a more open and welcoming lobby. Snøhetta will also update the existing elevators to help accommodate the building's 3,000 anticipated tenants.

"Snøhetta’s updated design will preserve and revitalize the landmark tower, undo past renovations that compromised the original design intent, and reconceive 550 Madison’s public spaces," the firm explains.

At the building's rear, Snøhetta proposes expanding an existing annex with a covered indoor garden for public use.

Courtesy Moare & Snøhetta
Courtesy Moare & Snøhetta

At times mocked for its "Chippendale" ornamentation, the AT&T Building was built between 1978 and 1984, ushering in the era of postmodern design. The former headquarters of AT&T, as well as of tech giant Sony Corp. of America, the 37-story high-rise was purchased in 2016 by developers Olayan America and Chelsfield for $1.4 billion.

Last year, with Snøhetta as the lead architect, the developers released plans for a $300 million renovation to redevelop and reconfigure the lower levels of the tower, doubling public space and adding an outdoor garden. However, plans to replace the structure's granite façade with an expansive glass wall met pushback from community members and preservationists.

DBOX The original design proposal by Snøhetta.