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Snøhetta’s overhaul of 550 Madison Avenue gives New Yorkers a new garden

Images courtesy of Snøhetta/LNMB
Work has finished on a major renovation of New York City’s 550 Madison Avenue, a landmark previously known as the AT&T Building and the Sony Tower.

The overhaul designed by Norwegian architect Snøhetta turned the tower’s foyer into a half-acre public garden with 48 real trees, 200 shrubs, thousands of bulb plants, and three food kiosks.

Snøhetta said opening space for the garden liberated a formerly enclosed, mid-block passageway. It was “the first new green space in Midtown in decades”, the architect said.

The façade’s circular portal windows on the north and south ends of the building have been re-opened, allowing daylight into the tower podium.

Building improvements include a Rockwell Group-designed club-level amenity space, with a concierge, restaurants and kitchens for events.

A 65ft arched-glass window spills light onto the building’s centrepiece artwork, “Solid Sky,” by the artist Alicja Kwade.

Craig Dykers, Snøhetta founding partner, said: “Like many New Yorkers, we yearn to connect with the outdoors, and this collaboration with Olayan offered our team an opportunity to reposition the heroic 550 Madison tower for a new age while reestablishing how the tower meets the city.”

Erik Horvat, Olayan America’s managing director of real estate, said: “The half-acre Garden at 550 Madison is a welcoming new green space, offering a lush and elegant environment at the centre of New York City.

“The garden’s cutting-edge design and meticulous maintenance positions it among the most beautiful public spaces in the city.”

The 197m-tall 550 Madison Garden was designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee, and was built in 1984. Previously the headquarters of the Sony Corporation of America, the tower was acquired by Saudi conglomerate Olayan Group and property developer Chelsfield in 2016.

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