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Iconic Ford Foundation Building To Get $190M Revamp

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Midtown East's iconic Ford Foundation building is set to receive a major facelift while still retaining its structural integrity. The foundation announced plans Wednesday to bring the building, which occupies almost an entire block between East 42nd and 43rd Streets along Second Avenue, up to city code by 2019. New additions will focus on making the building more environmentally-conscious and ADA-friendly. New York Times first reported on the announcement that will cost the foundation $190 million.

Apart from city code, the central impetus behind the renovation is to make the structure of the building more in line with its current values. The present design is too hierarchical in nature and can be intimidating to a lot of people, the president of the Foundation, Darren Walker, described in a recent blog post on the Foundation's website. The renovations will allow for more collaborative workspaces, and create new office space that non-profits from the outside world can utilize as well.

"Our new layout will make it easier for staff to work together, while opening two full floors of office space for other nonprofits and foundations," wrote Walker in the blog post on the Ford Foundation website. "Our own office footprint in the building will be reduced by nearly one-third, and we will nearly double the space available for non-profit conferences and convening."

Other changes in the building, which will be led by architecture firm, Gensler include creating a new visitor center, an art gallery, and an event space. Through the renovation, the building will also become more environmentally-friendly: use LED-lighting, harvest stormwater for cooling, and use natural daylight to offset electricity usage. As much of the existing modernist furniture created by Warren Platner and Charles and Ray Eames will be reutilized.

The structure of the existing 12-story building, which is made of glass, Corten steel, and granite, and surrounds a 174-foot atrium will essentially remain the same and so will the garden terraces that were designed by Dan Kiley. The plants are being re-designed courtesy of landscape architect Raymond Jungles with the new garden featuring some of the original species inherent to Dan Kiley's design and others as per the Times.

The building was completed in 1968 and designed by noted architect Kevin Roche and his engineering partner John Dinkeloo, who worked on the project as their first commission as heads of Eero Saarinen's firm. The building is recipient of several design prizes and was declared a New York City landmark in 1997.

For the renovation work, the Foundation's 375 employees will be moved to a temporary office space 1440 Broadway beginning September 2016, and work on the renovation is expected to be complete in 2018.

The philanthropic work of the organization will not be affected by the temporary relocation or the renovation work. Funds for the renovation have been acquired through a 30-year bond, according to the Times.

· A Sensible Makeover for the Ford Foundation [New York Times]
· Transforming a landmark into a center for social justice [Ford Foundation]