Designation Testimony

Testimony for Proposed Modulightor Building Individual Landmark

The Modulightor Building – 246 East 58th Street

A mixed use structure designed in a late 20th century modern style by architect Paul Rudolph in 1989.

As the citywide advocate for New York’s architectural, historical and cultural neighborhoods, HDC enthusiastically supports the designation of Paul Rudolph’s Modulightor Building as an Individual Landmark.

Paul Rudolph began this remarkable fusion of commercial space, residential space, interior design, and architectural vision near the end of his life, completing the first phase before he died. Rudolph’s legacy is very much alive here. Modulightor, the lighting company Rudolph founded with his partner Ernst Wagner, still operates out of the ground floor showroom; Wagner still lives in the residential space, and the building is stewarded by the Paul Rudolph Foundation, which opens the building to the public.

Perhaps no other modern structure in New York City remains as closely aligned with, and devoted to, the vision of its creator, functioning as both a residence and showroom for the people and businesses he intended. For that reason alone, it would be significant. Of course, it is also highly architecturally significant. As the Commission itself points out, “Modulightor Building’s remarkable front and rear elevations are composed of intersecting and overlapping horizontal and vertical rectangles of varying projection and size. Painted white, the steel I-beams form jigsaw-like screens that recall the De Stijl movement, Russian Constructivism, and Mies van der Rohe, as well as Rudolph’s celebrated Milam Residence of 1959-61. Other noteworthy architectural features include a multi-level roof terrace and three cantilevered steel balconies that face a rear patio.”

HDC is aware that the interiors of this building, which are largely intact and open to the public, are not yet old enough to be considered for interior landmark status. We look forward to the day that the interior of this building becomes eligible for designation, and urge the commission to protect the interior as soon as possible. The interior and exterior of this building work in tandem as a complete and sublime design. In order to fully protect the integrity of the exterior, the LPC must also protect the interior. 

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