Remodelation Architect
Gwathmey Siegel Architects
Structural Engineer
Leslie E. Robertson Associates
American Telephone & Telegraph
Built in
1981 – 1984
Remodeled in
19,32 m
29.87 m
60.96 m
550 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, New York, United States
Some parts of this article have been translated using Google’s translation engine. We understand the quality of this translation is not excellent and we are working to replace these with high quality human translations.


This office building with 37 floors and 197.32 m high is considered as the first postmodern skyscrapers, despite the position defended by Philip Johnson for years of international style, as evidenced by its collaboration with Mies in construction Seagrsam Building of New York.

Since its inception the building has generated much controversy. The coronation frontal view Chippendale style was too “kitsch”, the entrance was criticized for providing little protection from the weather and make the visitor feel small, and Johnson was charged with possession of an architectural style pioneered by others.

Its construction was completed in 1984 for its original owner, telecommunications company AT & T, AT & T Building calling. Since its inception created heated debates for and against. The city agreed to allow its vertical mass in exchange for a public space within the building, either outdoors or in a gallery, as promised by AT & T to maintain its activities in the future. Despite the promises, the building was acquired by Sony in 1992, to be renamed Sony Tower and becoming the headquarters of the company in the United States.


The building whose original name was building AT & T and whose style quickly earned him the nickname “Chippendale” is located at 550 Madison Avenue, between 56th and 57th Street, Manhattan, New York, United States.


The corporate offices of AT & T in New York City, then Sony was building at the time of its design and construction to design a striking departure “glass box” of many office buildings tall at that time. The binding of an innovative steel structural system, a series of architectural requirements and a challenging for the project in the center of Manhattan engineering resulted in what the architect Philip Johnson calls his “….capolavoro…. the culmination of my life’s work…. ”

To make revistieran 197,5m tall building with a monumental presence at first glance, Johnson crowned him with a single post-modernist curved like the completion of a drawer style “Chippendale”. Like his work in the Seagram building by Mies, international style, this building was a model for a new style to be followed by other architects.

Carter Wiseman critic described the building as “a fusion of aesthetics and corporate trading rebellion logo… more architecture, more artistic ornament termination”.
It is striking that were Philip Johnson who created this project, the same Johnson who in 1932 introduced in the United States or the international style was responsible for pure modernist forms and the Glass House at Connecticut. Philip Johnson completed this building in it year that PPG Place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a remarkably different but logically like postmodernist approach.
The building of AT & T, was also a commercially very timely reaction against modernism of Mies and derivatives


With a rectangular plant occupies a narrow space at the base 30.48×60.96m and has design elements used in the first skyscraper, a tripartite scheme with a base and a cap. The structure covered with pink granite account only for 30% of glazed area, represented with 9 vertical strips of windows.

The large front arcade with 9.14m high and a coronation referred to the drawer Chippendale style, designed by master cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale eighteenth century, presents a break in the center of the facade, behind which hide mechanical equipment, while provides the building with a unique and distinctive identity.

The tripartite division of the facade of a grand entrance and a pedestrian gallery at the base, shaft height with regular windows, and a wide band of windows just below the crown of the building stands. The entrance is a large glass topped by arch-shaped openings porthole.
The square was unsuccessful as a public space and became an enclosed shopping space when Sony bought the building. Including a Sony store with the latest technology, with entrances both on the main street and the gallery.

The upper floors were devoted to offices, despite the passing of the years some floors were fitted for residential use, reaching a high real estate value.



Structurally, the building has structural tubular frame whose columns are connected with trusses at the top and bottom.


The construction of the AT & T began in January 1979 with the excavation of land at 550 Madison Avenue, buildings that occupied the site were demolished a year earlier. Excavation work continued throughout 1979 and part of 1980. The first steel columns were placed in the fall of 1980 and in January 1981 began the steel skeleton to be above street level.

The building is clad in granite from the same quarry that supplied the stone for the facade of the pink-gray Grand Central Station. Access to the floor lifts combines black and white marble, with perforated metal plates on the roofs of the halls.

The elevators have overlapping bronze doors with square plates, his work was inspired by the elevators Chrysler Building.

• Golden Boy statue

A 7m high statue of the former headquarters of AT & T, the Spirit of Communication, or “Golden Boy” by artist Evelyn B. Longman, was removed from the lobby after the transaction and transferred to the premises of AT & T of New Jersey.


When Sony bought the famous building of AT & T commissioned the architectural firm Gwathmey Siegel a transformation of the original structure that would turn the building into the world headquarters of the department of music and image. For possible modifications were inevitable in the original design originally scheduled to host 600 people instead of the 1,600 that Sony raised.

On the street level, there were open under the building galleries created by the high columns of the base and behind the building, a gallery of 20 m in height through the block with a curved skylight. All these spaces had a mosaic floor of granite with a zig-zag pattern in the square gallery and other spaces.
During the reconstruction of approximately 1,310 sqm of open retail space they were reduced to 980 sqm, 560 sqm commercial space and 380 m² to a large deck and public arcade, with cafes and rest areas.

  • Atrium

Other changes were redefining and Public SONY Atrium Plaza, with greater accessibility and presence on Madison Avenue. Also by placing in the high 18.29m tall arches that flank the north and south sides of the original building window bays with aluminum frames, place formerly occupied by retail stores. Soils show a combination of granite gray and black form a zig zag template.

The interior spaces are characterized by the incorporation of images and large-scale exhibitions, media and display systems, as well as banners, flags, neon lights and music.

  • Lobby

According to the identity of Madison Avenue as a shopping street, the remodeling involved raising the building 20 meters above street level, retaining the central minimalist lobby, identified externally by the arched bay 24 m high, resulting in Current building. From this neo-Romanesque vaulted lobby, visitors access to another covered with white marble lobby that is above, where 25 lifts leading to the upper floors

  • Lobby

In the lobby downstairs, striking black glass sheets are inserted into the recesses of the arches to make the original granite walls and marble floors inlaid Lutyens style. Decorating with black glass combined with wood is repeated on the important points along the floors.
The color codes in the elevator lobbies clearly express each division of Sony. The original tray installed by Johnson, perforated metal ceiling has been maintained, as well as the basic organization of core communications, being only track with a new architectural approach if necessary space.



by WikiArquitectura

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