Interior of Fifth Ave. Bank Building Is Named a Landmark

It comes too late to save a sculptural screen by the artist Harry Bertoia that was removed last year, but on Tuesday the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to grant landmark protection to the midcentury modern interior of 510 Fifth Avenue — the squat, transparent former Manufacturers Trust Bank Building with the gleaming circular vault door in the lobby.

The four-story glass-and-aluminum building, at the corner of West 43rd Street, designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill, opened in 1954; its exterior was designated a landmark in 1997.

The commission’s chairman, Robert B. Tierney, said in a statement that the structure’s “luminous ceilings, spacious floor plans, white marble piers and other minimalist features blur the distinction between inside and out.” The centerpiece of the building’s first floor is the seven-foot-wide circular door of a 30-ton stainless-steel vault.

Last October, the building’s current owners, JPMorgan Chase, removed a “floating” screen of 800 intersecting brass, copper and nickel panels that Bertoia had created for the lobby. A preservationist protested at the time that “Chase may own it, but it is part of New York’s cultural patrimony.”

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