August 2014
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Archive for August, 2014

MAS Moves to the Look Building – a New York Landmark

Look BuildingOn September 2, 2014, the Municipal Art Society will be relocating from our current offices in the Steinway Building on 57th Street to 488 Madison Avenue, the landmarked Look Building.
From saving Grand Central to winning passage of New York City’s Landmarks Law, MAS has been a champion for the protection of New York’s significant historic buildings throughout our 120-year history. The Look Building will be a fitting home for MAS, with its esteemed history and status as a New York Landmark, while allowing for a more open, collaborative and modern office environment.
The Villard Houses and Steinway Hall
For almost 30 years MAS was headquartered at the Villard Houses, built in 1886 and designed by architect Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White. Villard Houses The palazzo-style brownstone building, originally built as six townhouses, was designated as a New York City Landmark in 1968. In 2010, MAS moved to Steinway Hall, home of the piano manufacturing firm Steinway & Sons. Built in 1925 and designed by Warren & Wetmore, Steinway Hall was designated as a New York City Landmark in 2001.
MAS’s New Home
The 21-story Look Building, built in 1950, is exemplary of a minimalist aesthetic popular in architecture at the time. The building is most notable for its use of industrial materials to create sleek, setback elevations with rounded edges and its unique facades of alternating layers of ribbon-like windows and glazed white brick.. Two second-generation, family-run businesses, the developers Uris Brothers and architects Emery Roth & Sons, successfully speculated on the new building’s success. Richard Roth, the lead architect, designed the building to be stylish, profitable and practical. The building’s style suggests that Roth drew inspiration from the 1931 Starrett-Lehigh Building and the 1947 Universal Pictures Building, both in Manhattan. Roth was also influenced by architect Erich Mendelsohn, a German Expressionist.
A Salute to 488 Madison

In 1998, MAS produced an exhibition: “New Life for a Modern Monument: A Salute to 488 Madison Avenue”

The building was named for Look magazine, the principal tenant upon completion. Once one of the most widely-read magazines in the day, Look remained at this location until 1971, when it ceased publication. Other notable past tenants include Esquire, Pocket Books, music publishers Witmark & Sons, and industrial designer Raymond Loewy. In 1998, the Look Building underwent restoration by architects Hardy Holzman & Pfieffer. MAS organized a exhibition, New Life for a Modern Monument: A Salute to 488 Madison Avenue, which, at the time was just kitty-corner to MAS’s headquarters at 457 Madison Avenue. MAS’s event brochure commended the restoration stating that it “shows how successfully the best postwar buildings can be updated, rewarding investors and delighting passerby.” Ned Kaufman, an associate director of MAS at the time and a leading advocate of the preservation of modern architecture, presciently said the renovation would be ”a very valuable and important model.” In 2004, the Look Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and was named a New York City Landmark in 2010.
Contacting MAS
Our mailing address is now: Municipal Art Society 488 Madison Avenue, Suite 1900 New York, NY 10022 Our email addresses, phone and fax numbers remain the same. Call (212) 935-3960 or send an email to info (at) if you have any questions.
We look forward to welcoming you into our new space!

Congratulating Bob Yaro on 25 Years at RPA

On behalf of the board and staff of the Municipal Art Society of New York, we express our admiration and thanks to Bob Yaro for his years of service to the city as president of the Regional Plan Association. We have been honored to collaborate with RPA on some of the largest infrastructure projects facing New York, from rebuilding Penn Station to addressing post-Sandy resiliency. We have always valued RPA’s perspective as a regional voice in these discussions, and Bob’s invaluable role in helping to shape them. Deeply knowledgeable and ever insightful, Bob has been a tireless caretaker for New York and its surrounding communities for 25 years. Continue Reading>>

Tell the MTA: We Need the Move NY Plan and a New Penn Station

This is a trying time for our region’s transportation. Growing ridership, aging infrastructure, and climate change (seen with Superstorm Sandy’s immense devastation to our subways and tunnels) mean that we can’t continue with business as usual, with not near enough resources to maintain our current system, let alone one that New York needs for its future. But with these obstacles, we also have opportunities. The MTA Transportation Reinvention Commission was recently formed to address these challenges. With 24 experts in transportation, planning, financing, business, real estate and more, the Commission has the leadership to call for new investment and new ways in thinking about how we move New York City. What’s more: they’re looking for your help. They’ve opened the call up to the public to provide input. They’re asking: How do we move forward with transportation in New York? Let’s tell them. We need to adopt the Move NY Plan – the most rational way to raise new revenue. With a $12 billion deficit, the MTA can’t afford to maintain the infrastructure it has, let alone build for our future. Fair tolling is the best way to fix this. Also, critically, the MTA needs to work with other transit agencies and stakeholders to take action towards a New Penn Station. The current station is overcrowded, unsafe, and unattractive, and its limitations impede future growth in transit service in the city and region. Planning for a new station in tandem with Amtrak’s Gateway Project will ensure that the New York region can meet anticipated future travel demand while creating the city’s next great civic space. We told the MTA what needs to happen (read our testimony here PDF). Now it’s your turn. Tell the MTA: we need a fair tolling plan and a new Penn Station.