MURRAY HILL — The Landmarks Preservation Commission designated a Murray Hill office tower as a New York City landmark on Tuesday.
Both the exterior and the first-floor lobby of the Madison Belmont Building, located at 181 Madison Avenue at East 34th Street, are included in the designation, according to a commission press release.
The building was constructed between 1924 and 1925 and designed by Warren & Wetmore, the architecture firm behind the design of Grand Central Terminal. The details on the facade and on the interior of the structure, featuring both Renaissance and Art Deco architectural styles, have ranked the building among some of the firm’s more unusual works.
“The building is important because it straddles the line between classical and early modern design, and anticipates the coming wave of Art Deco skyscrapers and office buildings in New York City during the late 1920s and 1930s,” commission Chairman Robert B. Tierney said in a statement.
In addition to identifying landmarks across the city, the commission is also responsible for regulating changes to those buildings as part of its mission to “safeguard the city's historic, aesthetic, and cultural heritage,” according to the commission’s website.
The Madison Belmont Building has several defining details that distinguish it from traditional stone structures. The façade features pink brick and red metal window frames, as well as a multi-toned portion of brick done in a basket-weave pattern that is a signature element of Art Deco design.
Inside the building, the lobby is more traditional, featuring marble and bronze and a multi-colored, barrel-vaulted ceiling. Across the walls are bronze figures of gods and mythological creatures that bring in elements of ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt.
The Madison Belmont was originally conceived as office and showroom space for silk companies. Until 1932, its major tenant was the Cheney Silk Company, a firm founded in 1838. Across the ceiling of the lobby are images of sailing ships, which suggest early efforts to locate silk.
“The sumptuous design and materials of the lobby made a grand statement to visitors originally shopping for fine silk goods back then,” Tierney said. “And it remains a remarkably intact, elegant entrance today.”