History of NYC’s IBM Building (590 Madison Avenue)

NYC's IBM Building

IBM Building – Photo: Brian Kachejian 2017

There are not many cities in the world in which a 41 story building would be listed as the 89th tallest building in the city. However, there are not many cities in the world like New York City. Built in 1989, the IBM building stands at 41 floors and is located at the corner of Madison Avenue and East 57th Street in the New York City borough of Manhattan. While the building stands mighty tall at 41 floors, it also contains 1,007,420 sq ft of floor area.  The IBM building is located right next to Trump Tower and the Sony Building.

The IBM Building has multiple entrances as many New York City business buildings have. There are entrances from adjacent buildings and three entrances to the building directly from the street.  The IBM building’s proximity to Trump Tower has caused the New York City Police Department to erect concrete barriers in front of the entrance on 57th street. The impact of the Red Calder sculpture that stands at the front of the entrance is somewhat diminished in the shadows of anti terrorist barricades.

NYC'S IBM Building

Barricaded entrance to the IBM Building. Photo: Brian Kachejian 2017

The construction of the IBM building was completed in 1983. The building was designed by  Edward Larrabee Barnes & Associates. The original building that stood at the same site was built in 1938 for IBM . The original IBM building was only 20 floors high. The 1938 building was demolished in 1977. Six years later, a building twice the size of its original opened at 590 Madison Avenue. IBM owned the building until 1994 when it was sold to the Odyssey Corporation. Even though IBM no longer owns the building, the new owners have kept the IBM logo on the building’s entrance and most people still refer to it as the IBM building. IBM still remains a major tenant in the building.

One of the most unique attributes of the IBM building is the public space built inside the building. A beautiful four-story atrium was designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes & Associates. The atrium is located right inside the entrance where the red Calder sculpture stands. There are tables and chairs available for the public to take in the fresh air that the atrium pumps into the public space. It is one of the most beautiful atriums in New York City. There is food available inside the atrium. The atrium also hosts a rotating display of works of art from various artists.

The IBM Building is wrapped in beautiful black stone. The building host a granite paving that extends into the lobby where it is met by Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass sculpture.  It is simply a jaw dropping display of art that IBM felt was necessary to display in their building. There had always been a backlash against computing in the late 20th century and it seemed IBM was looking to enhance their ideals by incorporating art into their building.

The IBM building is usually not on the list of places that tourist choose to see. However, the building has a rich history dating back to 1938. The atrium is beautiful and it proximity to Trump Tower makes it a spot that most people should attempt to visit at least once in their lifetimes. When we look at the history of computing, IBM stands as one of first companies to develop the machines that people now carry in their pockets.

IBM Building Tourneau Watch Store

Tourneau Watch Store tenant of IBM Building Photo: Brian Kachejian

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