Vocon with MdeAS Architects Near Completion of HGI’s 51W52 Repositioning

This article is originally from NYREJ, published November 28, 2023.

Vocon, in collaboration with MdeAS Architects, has played a pivotal role in the $128 million repositioning project of the iconic 51W52 skyscraper, originally designed by Eero Saarinen as CBS headquarters. The extensive renovations focus on preserving the landmark’s original design while introducing modern enhancements. Upgrades include the recently completed 52nd St. lobby renovation, a reimagined 53rd St. lobby, and the addition of an amenity suite featuring a lounge, fitness center, conference and event space, and a private cafe, with completion set for December.

Since Harbor Group International, LLC (HGI) affiliates acquired the building in 2021, accounting for the second ownership change since construction, the restoration has attracted significant leasing activity. HGI executed new leases and renewals, amounting to 41% of the building’s space (325,000 s/f). Notably, HGI relocated its NYC headquarters to 51W52, occupying 25,000 s/f on the 19th floor.

Known as the “Black Rock” building, 51W52, the only skyscraper designed by Eero Saarinen, offers column-free floor plates, floor-to-ceiling windows, and immediate access to the 53rd St. corridor, shops, and restaurants. Vocon, alongside MdeAS Architects, took a contemporary approach to enhance Saarinen’s vision, preserving original elements like bronze fin walls and introducing modern touches.

Tom Vecchione, Vice Chairman and Managing Principal at Vocon, expressed the honor of restoring Saarinen’s visionary skyscraper: “It is an honor to work on such an iconic building, and to have the opportunity to restore Eero Saarinen’s visionary skyscraper. By making thoughtful design updates and incorporating inspiration from Saarinen’s other buildings alongside his original furniture designs, the new 51W52 brings together the best of New York City from the past and today.”

The repositioning project envisions tranquil and modern spaces, including tenant lounge areas, dining options, a fitness center, new elevators, a restored elevator bay, conference facilities, and a rooftop garden. CBRE, led by Howard Fiddle, Scott Gottlieb, Andrew Sussman, and Evan Haskell, is responsible for leasing the building.

T. Richard Litton Jr., President at HGI, emphasized that 51W52 fulfills the needs of today’s tenants by seamlessly blending its storied past with modern aesthetics and functionality. The strong leasing activity attests to the building’s appeal in providing a elevated workplace experience in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.