At 550 Madison, Alicja Kwade introduces a superheavy object in tension

The conversion of 550 Madison into a next-generation office space is nearing completion, as Snøhetta continues work on its portions of the renovation at the Philip Johnson-designed Midtown Manhattan skyscraper that once played corporate headquarters to AT&T and Sony. At the building’s base, however, Gensler’s transformation of the lobby—much protested by preservationists when first unveiledis finished, and developer the Olayan Group has selected an artist to fill the space with an appropriately monumental public installation: Polish-German artist Alicja Kwade.

On a press visit to the not-yet-open tower’s lobby, Gensler’s interventions became immediately apparent. Gone are the drywall dividers and interior glass of Johnson’s day. The space has been fully

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