New York Office Lobbies Reinvented As Art Spaces

These commercial buildings commissioned top-tier artworks to enliven their lobbies.

As a young girl, Cindy Farkas Glanzrock remembers being awestruck by Roy Lichtenstein’s 68-foot-high Mural with Blue Brushstroke hanging in the atrium of 787 Seventh Avenue in midtown Manhattan. She recalls how the collage, still in the lobby of what is now called the AXA Equitable Center, energized an otherwise drab office tower entrance.

Artist James Turrell teamed up with KPF on this glowing Midtown office lobby. Photo: Courtesy of Stawski Partners

Today Glanzrock heads the Building Art Curatorial Program (BACP), a consultancy that works with real estate developers, building owners, and corporations to commission or lease works by established and emerging artists for their properties. As Glanzrock recognized from a young age, artworks can dramatically transform a building’s public areas, not only enhancing the spaces visually but also elevating a company brand, making it look modern and forward-thinking. For developers and leasing agents, art can also help attract tenants.

Of course, developers and building owners have a long history of embracing art. Back in the 1930s, Glanzrock notes, David Rockefeller Jr. and his art-loving wife, Abby, were trailblazing pioneers in this area, commissioning numerous public works for Rockefeller Center, including José Maria Sert’s famous mural in the lobby of 30 Rock as well as the iconic bronze Prometheus sculpture by Paul Manship that presides over the complex’s central lower plaza. Later, in the 1960s, the Rockefellers spearheaded Isamu Noguchi’s Sunken Garden and Jean Dubuffet’s sculpture Group of Four Trees in the open plaza in front of One Chase Manhattan Plaza (now known as 28 Liberty). Considered city landmarks, these works draw their own crowds.

Today, specialized advisory services have become something of a robust cottage industry. Considering how much great art is on display in buildings around the city, Galerie asked Glanzrock to share a few of her favorite must-see lobbies.

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