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August 27, 2012 Mid-Century Modern

Modern Snapshot: Manufacturers Trust Building

510 5th Ave.

The space may now house a Joe Fresh, but it will always be the Manufacturers Trust building, the elegantly, minimalist International Style structure designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.

Manufacturers Trust building

“When it opened in 1954, the public marveled at the steel vault boldly displayed on the ground floor behind a facade of clear glass and aluminum, on one of New York’s busiest streets,” according to the World Monuments Fund. “A metaphor for honesty and transparency in banking, and a symbol of a self-confident era, the building influenced the design of commercial architecture worldwide.” The building was designated a New York City landmark in 1997; the interior was landmarked in 2011. While the the building owners were allowed to make some changes, including reorienting the escalators that used to run parallel to 5th Avenue, Harry Bertoia’s two pieces of art–the massive sculptural screen and the cloud-like mobile–are now back in the building. (View a short video I shot of the screen as I came up the escalators to the second floor.)

Take a look at these great images from the building’s original welcome brochure. See more of my shots below.

The “Golden Arbor” screen is 70-feet long, 16-feet high and more than 5 tons of 800 bronze, copper and nickel panels welded together.

Harry Bertoia

Bertoia mobile

Bertoia “cloud” mobile back in the store.

A view from the second level looking out toward 5th Avenue.

Manufacturers Trust vault

The Manufacturers Trust buildings iconic vault can still be seen from 5th Avenue.