Polishing the Rock

Polishing the Rock

The renovation will bring the office building up to date and improve its energy efficiency. The art deco design of the exterior will remain.
Courtesy KPF

With Hudson Yards steadily rising on Manhattan’s West Side, Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF)—the firm leading the project—is turning its attention to one of Manhattan’s other mega developments, albeit a much older one: Rockefeller Center. KPF is working on a top-to-bottom overhaul of 75 Rockefeller Plaza, a landmarked structure built in 1947 by Carson & Lundin Architects. The unveiling of KPF’s plan comes about one year after RXR Realty acquired a 99-year leasehold on the property. The company is now aggressively marketing the 33-story office building to prospective tenants with a slick new website.

At ground level, KPF revamps the building’s double-height glazed base that is set to house retail, restaurants, and entrances into the tower. On the 51st Street side, which looks onto Rockefeller Plaza, the firm slots a new and significant curved bronze panel between the glass walls.


Inside, the building’s new block-through lobby reads as a throwback to 1940s art deco with its terrazzo floors, marble columns, and walls clad in marble and limestone. The concierge desk and elevators, that are both cast in bronze, help complete the theme.  


The renovation of 75 Rockefeller Plaza also comes with new private terraces complete with seating areas, planters, and green roofs. Above the glassy retail base, two private terraces are connected through a glass-enclosed walkway. The interiors will also be renovated as class-A office space. RXR has drawn up new floor plans to try to lure prospective tenants to the tower.

To achieve LEED Gold certification for the building, KPF is updating the mechanicals from the inside out, including new elevators, HVAC and electrical systems. It will also be configured to collect rainwater for irrigating the terraces.

The structure’s limestone and cast aluminum facade will also be cleaned, new insulation will be added, and old windows will be swapped out for more energy efficient replacements.