Proposal would strip 60 Wall St of its unique Postmodern features

Author

Michele Racioppi

Affiliation

Docomomo US staff

Tags

Threatened, Advocacy, New York, Postmodernism
Image details

Background 

60 Wall Street (formerly the J.P. Morgan Bank Building or Deutsche Bank Building) was completed in 1989 by Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo and Associates. This postmodern office tower design is bold in form and daring in its execution, borrowing many elements from classical architecture. The building boasts an atrium that is perhaps one of the most unique spaces in all of New York City. As described by Benjamin Kellogg in an article earlier this year, "the style of this interior alludes to Mughal design: it’s a winter garden with flowering octagonal columns supporting mirrored ceilings framed with white trelliswork, inducing a reflective kaleidoscopic effect that Roche has been known to utilize." The atrium is a "POPS," a privately-owned public space, and also has a subway entrance inside it. 

Current Issue

Deutsche Bank, who had been the tenant since 2001, announced in 2018 their plans to move out of the building by 2021. In May of 2021, one of the new owners, Paramount Group, announced a $250 million renovation to the building façade and lobby that is intented to begin this summer. The new design, by Kohn Pedersen Fox, would strip the building's base of Roche's chamfered double columns. Roche's columns are essential to the design and are ingeniously duplicated at the top of the building with the use of layers of ribbon windows to produce an illusion of bundled pilasters forming the corner offices. The proposal would also alter the atrium beyond recognition into a generic, could-be-anywhere-style lobby. 

 

In the development of 60 Wall Street, the final building received three FAR (floor area ratio) bonuses for the POPS, the exterior public space on Wall Street, and for the transfer of air rights from 55 Wall Street, the former National City Bank Building, a Greek Revival style exchange building designed by Isaiah Rogers and built in 1842, with a 1907 addition by McKim, Mead and White. In addition to the creation of a facade easement for 55 Wall, the air rights transfer required any new development must be in "harmonious architectural relationship" with the landmarked 55 Wall. The current proposal has triggered a review by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission on whether the plan to alter the exterior at the base fulfills the requirement to be in harmonious relationship with its landmarked neighbor. 


Exterior proposed changes:

Atrium and Lobby proposed changes:

How you can help

The Landmarks Commission will be considering the proposal for the base of 60 Wall at an upcoming hearing on June 28th. We encourage members of the public to participate in two ways: 

  • Submit testimony prior to the June 28 meeting. Testimony must be submitted either via the online form or by email to testimony@lpc.nyc.gov. Written testimony is accepted until 12 noon on the Monday before the Tuesday hearing/meeting, but LPC recommends submitting by 5 pm on the Friday before the public hearing.
  • Attend the hearing either in person or virtually and provide public comment.
  • If you plan to attend virtually, sign up to speak HERE by 7 am on the day of the hearing.

Docomomo US is currently working on submitting a nomination to LPC for 60 Wall as an exterior and interior landmark.