MAS Position on 275 Madison Avenue
June 24th, 2008, 2:04 pm
275 Madison Avenue has significant architectural and cultural value and we strongly support its designation as a New York City Landmark. Designed by Kenneth Franzheim, 275 Madison Avenue was built in 1930 as one New York’s first innovative, rectangular ‘slab’ style towers. This style was designed to satisfy the need for a high-rise building type that could function on a narrow lot. 275 Madison, also known as the “shadowless skyscraper,” is a streamlined, white brick tower, punctuated by vertical bands of windows, that rises from a black marble base. Historian Robert A. M. Stern said that the inspiration for its “striking, pyramidal setbacks” was the famous Chanin Building and that the “the facades also echoed the paper-thin planes of the Chanin Building.” While often referenced in new buildings today, the pyramidal shape of the setbacks and asymmetrical placement of the tower was innovative in the 1930’s. As one of the relatively few commercial buildings begun after the crash of the stock market, this 42-story building was optimistically viewed as a symbol of the markets resilience and potential for recovery. It was photographed by Berenice Abbott from Park Avenue and memorialized in her “Changing New York” series. It is considered on of the great skyscrapers of its period. 257 Madison is an early and fine example of a transitional, abstract, slab style skyscraper. It functioned as a very real symbol of hope for New Yorkers during the Great Depression. For these reasons, MAS finds the building worthy of designation.