When it opened in 1954, this building was hailed by critics as one of the most innovative structures of its time. Instead of the then-customary Classical bank building, intended to connote stability and security, it is a transparent steel-and-glass cube. The designers boldly placed the massive stainless-steel vault in the Fifth Avenue window.
The building became a landmark in 1997, but only for its exterior. By the time the LPC finally designated the interior in 2011, Manufacturers Trust had become JPMorgan Chase, which vacated the building in 2010, taking with it a large decorative metal screen and hanging sculpture by Harry Bertoia. The new owner commissioned Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to retrofit the firm’s original design, splitting the interior into two retail spaces and rotating the escalators 90 degrees, a significant change to the design of the interior approved by the LPC. Preservationists took the owner and LPC to court and won a settlement that returned the Bertoia pieces in 2012, on indefinite loan from Chase.
Photograph 1 © Eduard Hueber / archphoto
Photographs 2, 3, 1967 © Ezra Stoller/Esto
Photographs 4-6 by Larry Lederman © All rights reserved