Since Sony left 550 Madison over a year ago, the Philip Johnson-designed, iconic postmodern office tower has sat mostly vacant. First there was the failed plans by the Chetrit Group to convert the buildings in a condo tower, followed by the $1.4 billion sale of the property to Olayan America in May 2016. Now, having teamed up with Chelsfield America, the developers are planning to move ahead with their Snøhetta-designed contemporary redevelopment. Snøhetta’s redesign will expose the base of the building by partially replacing its stone facade with an undulating, contemporary glass curtain wall that will extend to the first two floors of the building; additionally, the developers will demolish a neighboring annex building that will double the amount of public open space surrounding the tower which will serve as a “sensitively curated planting palette.” The redesign will also help modernize the office spaces through targeted LEED Gold and WELL-certified renovations with upgrades like DOAS, a Dedicated Outdoor Air Ventilation System, which will cycle fresh air for office occupants. The building will also receive a new digital infrastructure.
555 Madison is not a landmark, allowing the renovation to move forward with little to no obstructions. Despite that, Thomas H. Collins, a former manager and architecture book buyer at Rizzoli, submitted a Request for Evaluation with the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday, October 31, 2017. His request calls to designate the tower as an individual landmark, as well as an interior landmark. Collins wrote in his appeal “the treatment of the lower floors with the Palladian entrance arch and arcade as are integral to the design as the Chippendale top." A protest has been planned for Friday, November 3, 2017, outside of the tower, to coincide with the pushback from New York's architecture and anti-development communities. 555 Madison became eligible for Landmark status in 2014.