Completion of major capital improvement program for 2.5 million square foot Rockefeller Center tower enhances tenant and visitor experience.
Significant capital improvements have put midtown skyscraper 1221 Avenue of the Americas at the forefront of the resurgence of Sixth Avenue as one of Midtown’s most desirable corporate locations. After a two-year revitalization project designed by architecture firm MdeAS including enhancements to the expansive lobby, plazas and entrances, The Rockefeller Group-owned building officially unveiled its bold, progressive look in early December.
“This renovation is part of a trend that is reviving the image of the Avenue of the Americas and showcasing its prestige by targeting the workplace requirements of a new corporate America,” Dan Shannon, principal at MdeAS, says. “After decades of serving as corporate headquarters locations for some of the most prestigious companies in the world, these properties are experiencing a refocus, a reenergizing and a new attraction that is drawing companies from a variety of industries.”
The south lobby has been reoriented with a Sixth Avenue-facing visitor-reception desk and entrance. The reorientation of the lobby created a retail opportunity in place of the former side-street entrance on 48th Street. The space was quickly leased by Italian coffee bar operator Zibetto, which opened February 11, 2016.
Along the north lobby, MdeAS replaced a 150-foot stretch of exterior granite columns with floor-to-ceiling windows, creating a much more prominent entrance with a striking view of the beautiful lobby beaming with natural light.
“Now, you walk down Sixth Avenue and you see a wall of glass, a window into the heart of the building,” Shannon says. “It’s very grand, but once you get inside it’s also detailed to feel inviting, bright and light.”
A combination of Blue de Savoie marble, glass panels and afromosia veneer on lobby walls along with Blue Masaccio and white terrazzo flooring gives continuity to the 18,300-square-foot ground level and imbues a modern look and feel.
In keeping with the style of other Rockefeller Center buildings celebrating great artists, 1221 Avenue of the Americas features art of Mark Bradford in a central hall connecting the north and south lobbies. The commissioned artwork, named “Elgin Gardens” — two 22.5-foot-high mixed-media installations depicting the grid of Manhattan — accentuates the scale of the space. Two 20-foot-long marble tables invite tenants and guests to linger and take in the art.
In addition, the 48th and 49th Street plazas have been transformed with trees, improved lighting and benches promoting public use.
“As with our design approach to the lobby, the goal was to connect the interior and exterior and, ultimately, to encourage people to use these previously underutilized outdoor spaces,” says Daniela Doneva Petrusev, MdeAS lead architect on the job.
This project marks the fifth property along Avenue of the Americas for which MdeAS has pioneered renovations, but the project is unique in many ways. It is the firm’s first collaboration with The Rockefeller Group.
1221 Avenue of the Americas was constructed in 1972 by Harrison, Abramovitz & Harris as part of Rockefeller Center’s expansion west of Sixth Avenue. Also known as the “Y” of the XYZ Buildings, the 50-story tower boasts 2.5 million square feet of office and retail space, LEED Silver certification, as well as Platinum Wired Certification from WiredNYC.