N.Y. panel designates 3 buildings as landmarks CBS, Ford, Chase branch called 'worthy'

October 30, 1997|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

NEW YORK -- Three buildings - the Ford Foundation Building at 321 E. 42nd St., the CBS headquarters building at 51 W. 52nd St. and the Chase bank branch at 510 Fifth Ave. at 43rd Street - have been designated landmarks by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The buildings are not the first structures from the 1950s and 1960s to be given the title: Lever House, at 390 Park Ave., and the Seagram Building, at 375 Park Ave., have been landmarks for years.

But commission Chairwoman Jennifer J. Raab said the buildings symbolized "our ongoing effort to designate worthy modern buildings as they become eligible" for landmark status. Buildings must be 30 years old before the commission will consider them.

"These three new landmarks are striking expressions of the varying possibilities of modernism," Raab said. "Although one thinks of Beaux-Arts architecture when it comes to landmarks, we're pleased to recognize that modern architecture is an equally important part of our cultural heritage."

Of the three, only the Ford Foundation Building, completed in 1967 - a 12-story cube built of steel designed to rust as it aged - was given landmark status inside and out. The interior designation recognizes the building's widely copied atrium, surrounded by offices with full-length windows.

By contrast, the CBS building - completed in 1965, and nicknamed "Black Rock" for its dark-gray granite and dark tinted windows - was remarkable for its reinforced concrete structure, the commission said. It was the only skyscraper designed by the famous modernist Eero Saarinen, and is an austere, 38-story counterpoint to the steel-and-glass towers a few steps away on the Avenue of the Americas.

The bank branch, built for what was then Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co., was nicknamed "Glass House" when it opened in 1954. A five-story glass box, it revolutionized the design of banks dwith floor-to-ceiling windows that made it strikingly different from the traditional fortress style of most banks, the commission said.

Pub Date: 10/30/97

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