New York City-headquartered architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) and Toronto developer Brookfield Properties have unveiled a fresh set of renderings that depict a radically transformed—and barely recognizable—660 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
Completed in 1957, the landmark mid-century Midtown skyscraper designed by Carson & Lundin is currently undergoing a $400 million top-to-bottom facelift that recently kicked off and is due to wrap up in 2022. As evidenced by the new renderings shared with AN, the plan to strip the aging facade of 660 Fifth Avenue of its embossed aluminum panel cladding and replace it with a glass curtain wall featuring massive, floor-to-ceiling windows will, when all is said and done, result in a modern 41-story office tower that one might mistake as being entirely new.
In addition to the exterior recladding, KPF’s overhaul also entails a “reconstructed” lobby with new elevators and retail space, the addition of multiple terraces on three sides of the tower, and a complete transformation of the rather murky (think low ceilings and oppressively small windows) interior that will allow for soaring, light-accessible workspaces spread across floor plates of a multitude of sizes.
Of course, there’s also the change of address. Formerly known as 666 Fifth Avenue (a designation that was famously advertised, like some sort of infernal beacon, in massive red numerals at its peak for many years), Brookfield also announced last year that the 63-year-old skyscraper will also officially be reborn with a new, non-diabolical number.
However dramatic, the renovation work underway at 660 Fifth Avenue is a far cry from what was planned for the building toward the end of its tumultuous, headline-grabbing Kushner Properties era (2007 to 2018) when a plan to erect a $12 billion mixed-use supertall designed by Zaha Hadid Architects more or less on top of the existing structure was hatched and subsequently abandoned. The proposed 1,400-foot-tall tower would have been the third most expensive building ever constructed.
The renovation project was first formally first announced in October 2019, just a little over a year after Brookfield signed a 99-year lease for the property in a bailout that, at long last, took the beleaguered 1.5 million-square-foot building off the hands of the Kushner family. Earlier this year, the revelation that a one-of-a-kind Isamu Noguchi installation, Landscape of Clouds, could potentially be disassembled and removed as part of the lobby overhaul sparked uproar among preservationists.
The Noguchi piece is an original feature of the former 666 Fifth Avenue, which was the subject of an Academy Award-nominated 1959 short documentary directed by experimental filmmaker Shirley Clarke and is one of several surviving mid-century Carson & Lundin skyscrapers peppered throughout Manhattan including the General Telephone Building and the Time-Warner Building at Rockefeller Center.