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510 Fifth Avenue's Preservation Issues, Part 742

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The battle over the pre-emptive interior demolition of the landmarked Hanover Trust building at 510 Fifth Avenue and the subsequent remodeling by Vornado Realty continues apace as alterations get underway. Far gone from the building is Harry Bertioa's modernist metal screen. What's in order now? Rotating the building's hallmark escalators, reducing the vault wall, and cutting out new doorways, all in order to make way for two new stores.

Preservationists are banging their heads against the wall, insisting that the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission has abandoned its role as a protector of history and aesthetics. In one corner, former LPC commissioner Roberta Brandes Gratz, who says that "the resulting alteration totally obliterates the quality of this iconic structure"; in the other, more progressive preservationists like architect Stephen F. Byrns, who argues “It’s trying to be reasonable and flexible in allowing a property to adapt. This is no longer a bank and there’s no longer a vault there. You can make doors out of glass that are almost seamless.”

To Vornado's credit–given the new function of the building–it looks like they're attempting to preserve the original design as best they can, hiring the building's original architects Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill to help with the changes set to take place. (Vornado interior work is allowable under the current stop-work order as long as any changes are "reversible," until the preservationists win or lose their court case. Funny, that!)
· Modernist Landmark Behind a Court Battle [NY Times]
· 510 Fifth Avenue coverage [Curbed]

510 Fifth Avenue

510 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY