Should 550 Madison’s interior be landmarked? The owners say no.

The exterior is under consideration for the designation

Preservationists aren’t happy that only the exterior of 550 Madison Avenue is eligible for landmark status.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission is considering making the Philip Johnson-designed office building (formerly AT&T’s headquarters) a landmark but decided last month that its interior didn’t merit the designation, the New York Times reported. The commission argued that because a statue (called “Golden Boy”) had been removed from the building’s lobby in the 1990s, the lobby is no longer in its original condition.

The building’s owners, Olayan America and Chelsfield America, which paid $1.4 billion for the property in 2016, began demolishing the lobby shortly after Landmarks decided against calendaring the tower’s interiors. The owners are planning a $300 million redesign of the building.

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Preservationists are upset that work is already underway in the lobby and argue that the interior is just as much worth saving as the building’s facade.

“There is not an interior and an exterior of the AT&T Building, there is the AT&T Building,” Nathan Eddy, a documentary filmmaker who helped organize a demonstration outside the building last month, told the Times. “As Philip Johnson would put it, it is a complete work. It should be preserved in its entirety.”

A CBRE team is handling the leasing at the office building. Olayan is reportedly targeting rents between $115 and $120 a square foot. [NYT]Kathryn Brenzel