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Replica of beloved Josef Albers mural "Manhattan" has returned to original home in lobby of 200 Park Avenue
The original “Manhattan” was on prominent display from the building’s opening in 1963 until 2000. Courtesy of Diane Bondareff, AP Images for Tishman Speyer.

NEW YORK, NY.- A meticulous replica of the signature Josef Albers mural “Manhattan” has returned to the lobby at 200 Park Avenue, commonly referred to as the MetLife Building. Tishman Speyer and its long-term partner in ownership, California-based Irvine Company, announced the mural’s return today as part of a major re-imagination of the lobby and public areas of the building. The original “Manhattan” was on prominent display from the building’s opening in 1963 until 2000 and with oversight from the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and the artist’s specifications for the massive work (55 feet wide x 28 feet tall), has been replicated with exacting precision and at full scale.

One the most important intentions of the lobby renovation at 200 Park Avenue is to honor and respect the history of this iconic building. Tishman Speyer and Irvine Company commissioned MdeAS Architects to reimagine the two-level, 50,000-square-foot lobby by restoring its original grandeur and creating a more intuitive, welcoming space for those who visit and work in the building. The project is both a restoration and reinvigoration of the lobby, focusing on opening passageways and fostering community. As part of this effort, they will return an important piece of art to New Yorkers in collaboration with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.

“This mural is part of the DNA of 200 Park Avenue and we are incredibly excited that it will once again be the focal point of its lobby,” said Rob Speyer, CEO and President of Tishman Speyer. “It has been our and our partner Irvine’s priority to recreate and return “Manhattan” not just to the building, but also to all New Yorkers who will be able to once again appreciate Josef Albers’ work in its full scale.”

Walter Gropius, one of the architects of 200 Park Avenue, the 58-story, 3.1-million-square-foot building in Midtown Manhattan, then named the Pan Am Building, was also the founder of the Bauhaus modernist design school which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Gropius asked Bauhaus contemporary Josef Albers to create a mural that would be a focal point for the building’s lobby, at the entrance from Grand Central. The replica of “Manhattan” will once again greet tenants and commuters each day at this entrance with its impressive scale and vibrancy. More than 250,000 commuters pass through the connection daily and the new design will reopen an original direct passageway between Grand Central and 45th Street that was eliminated in the 1980s. The renewed passageway instinctively threads together the concourse entrances and clarifies the ground floor circulation for commuters.

“Josef Albers believed that abstract art could be a perpetual source or emotional uplift to human life. He was extremely proud when the original “Manhattan” mural was created, because he realized that, every day, thousands of people would, at the very least, glance at it and gain that added sprint to their walk and feeling of inner happiness that is induced by the vibrant interplay of reds, blacks, and whites that Josef organized to have maximum rhythm and life without any humdrum repetition,” said Nicholas Fox Weber, Executive Director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. “In making the mural, he took a concept he had developed at the Bauhaus in sandblasted glass, and gave it new life on a vastly large scale to serve the purposes of his friend and colleague, Walter Gropius, who designed the original building and asked him to make the mural. Naming it “Manhattan,” Josef honored the city whose vibrancy he and his wife Anni relished in the country that was their haven once they fled Nazi Germany. The resurrection of the mural in its original location is an occasion for pure celebration.”

An iconic building in Manhattan, perched atop Park Avenue and easily visible from the South and North, 200 Park Avenue was designed by Emery Roth & Sons, Pietro Belluschi and Walter Gropius in the International style, and opened in 1963 as the Pan Am Building. Tishman Speyer and Irvine Company, California's primary owner of premium office, retail, resort and apartment communities, acquired the building in 2005. Both companies share a commitment to supporting arts and culture for tenants and the public.

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