Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

New York City

Designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), the Manufacturers Hanover Trust building's glass curtain wall and luminous interiors communicated a new transparency for financial institutions when completed in 1954. But the building that attracted 15,000 visitors on its opening day made less auspicious headlines in October 2010 when exiting tenants removed its site-specific Harry Bertoia sculptural screen and mobile. The change was just the latest in a long list of modifications that diminished 510 Fifth Avenue's original design. Flanked by two popular retail corridors'the established Flagship Row between 49th and 59th Streets and the Bryant Park area at 42nd Street'the address on the corner of West 43rd Street had also fallen out of favor among investors when Vornado Realty Trust acquired it three years ago.

Working with SOM, the new owners discovered that the key to the building's future lay in its past. Its original commissioner, Hap C. Flanigan, foresaw a need for adaptive architecture. 'He talked about how many branch banks failed during the Depression,' says SOM design partner Roger Duffy. 'He didn't want to make the building overly specific.'

The architects had to gain New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission approval for both interior and exterior modifications. Bunshaft's original design became the guiding principle: Duffy and the team reopened the volume by restoring the cantilevered second floor, which had been compromised by a glass ceiling during a previous renovation. They also restored the back-painted wire glass spandrel panels outlining the historic plate-glass facade, and reconfigured the entrance and escalators'originally on the side street'creating an inviting entrance on Fifth Avenue. Inside, they mimicked the original luminous ceiling with up-to-date materials. Even the Bertoia screen is back, if slightly repositioned, along with the mobile in its original place.

Vornado leased the building at a record rent to clothing retailer Joe Fresh before construction began. To fulfill the deal, the project team completed construction in just under a year.

The renewed building is already reviving the area, so that it is part of Fifth Avenue's retail corridor once more. With future tenants allowed only reversible changes, the building's course is much more controlled, says Duffy. 'It appealed to a particular type of person in the 20th century, but now appeals to a much broader spectrum of people.'

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
14 Wall Street
New York, NY 10005
212-298-9500 (fax)

Completion Date: 2012

Gross square footage: 30,000 square feet

Total construction cost: withheld


Owner: Vornado Realty Trust

Location:  Corner of 43rd Street and 5th Avenue, New York

Completion Date:  Original: 1954, Renovation, 2012

Gross square footage: 30,000 square feet (Renovation only, includes two retail floors and basement)

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
14 Wall Street
New York, NY 10005
212-298-9500 (fax)

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Roger Duffy, FAIA, Design Partner
T.J. Gottesdiener, FAIA, Managing Partner
Jonathan Stein, AIA, Director, Project Manager
Frank Mahan, AIA, Senior Design Architect
Sam O’Meara, AIA, Senior Technical Architect
Petra Jarolimova
Christian Kotzamanis

Charles Besjak, PE, SE, AIA, Director, Structural Engineer
Preetam Biswas, PE, Associate Director, Structural Engineer
Dieter Feurich, PE
Yunlu Shen, PE
Nathaniel Gonner
Ali Lame

Architect of record:  Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Tenant fit-out architect: Callison

Structural Engineer:  Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (see project team above)

M/E/P Engineer: Highland Associates, Inc.

Lighting: Brandston Partnership, Inc.

General contractor:
Tenant A fit out GC:  Richter+Ratner

Base Building and Tenant B space GC:  Sweet Construction Corporation

Photographer(s): Eduard Hueber / archphoto


Structural system
Steel Frame with composite deck

Exterior cladding: Empire Architectural Metal

Empire Architectural Metal

Entrances: Architectural glass and metal by Empire Architectural Metal

Locksets: Hardware by Ingersoll Rand U.N.O.

Pulls: Custom door pulls by Empire Architectural Metal

Interior finishes
Acoustical ceilings: Luminous Ceiling by Deglas

Special interior finishes unique to this project:
Terrazzo floor by D. Magnan & Co.
Interior fire rated glass partition by Saint Gobain

Downlights: Litelab

Dimming System or other lighting controls:  Lutron

Elevators/Escalators: KONE

Add any additional building components or special equipment that made a significant contribution to this project:
Existing stone restoration by L&L Stone & Tile

  • Vermont White Marble
  • Canadian Black Granite

Existing artwork restoration by Wilson Conservation and Artist Francois Guillemin