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Vornado Kisses, Makes Up at 510 Fifth: Bertoia Moving Back!

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The long legal stand-off between Vornado Realty and the preservation crew working to protect the landmarked Manufacturers Hanover Trust building at 510 Fifth Avenue was finally settled this week, just in time for Valentine's Day. We don't know all the dirty details, but the Times calls the occasion a win for preservation, and a press release from the Coalition to Save MHT adds more intel. The agreement makes possible the return of two Harry Bertoia sculptures to their original home. Both the "Golden Arbor," a six-ton screen in copper, nickel and brass that ran 70 feet across the west wall of the mezzanine, and a mobile representing a cloud, originally floating above the escalators, will be re-installed at "approximately their original locations" within the building. Vornado got the cooperation of JP Morgan Chase, former owner of 510 Fifth and holder of the Bertoia sculptures, for the move.
Another winning point for preservation is the return of salvaged black granite, originally part of the bank's massive wall encasing the huge Mosler vault. All that now remains of that wall is the ginormous circular steel and bronze door that faces Fifth Avenue, so where the salvaged granite will be re-installed remains a mystery. Vornado has also agreed that no additions will be constructed atop the 1954 SOM / Gordon Bunshaft building, a provision that applies to all future owners.

But the settlement of the suit?in which preservationists argued that Vornado's alterations put in danger the recently-landmarked interior of the building?won't satisfy everyone. Vornado will continue to reshape the space for retail tenant Joe Fresh, planning to open this summer, and the signature scissor escalators that were ripped out last summer won't be replaced in their original configuration. The ground floor will still be divided as Vornado insisted, compromising a space that offered a "special fascination" to Ada Louise Huxtable, who clearly found love at 510 Fifth Avenue back in 1954 when she wrote, "The whole, viewed from the outside, is no longer architecture in the traditional sense; it is a design, not a substance, of color, light and motion."
· Preservationists Win a Battle Over Former Manufacturers Hanover Trust Building [NYT]
· 510 Fifth Avenue coverage [Curbed]

510 Fifth Avenue

510 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY