Studio Mellone transforms the lobby of an iconic art deco building in Rockefeller Center
The elegant lobby at 50 Rockefeller Plaza at Studio Mellone features furniture from Green River Project and lighting from Apparatus
Midtown Manhattan may not exude the same allure today as it did in the mid-20th century, but a discreet overhaul of one of its features should restore some of its long-lost glamour. Famous for its art deco architecture and iconic plaza, Rockefeller Center is an enduring destination for visitors, attracting design enthusiasts and tourists alike. 50 Rockefeller Plaza is one of the most attractive bastions in the area, not only for its gigantic facade sculpted by Isamu Noguchi, but also for its newly opened roof terrace, only seven stories high, which now offers a point of unique view of the surroundings at select times, as well as private events.
50 Rockefeller Plaza: lobby design by Studio Mellone
On the ground floor, the building revealed a newly transformed lobby designed by New York-based interior design firm Studio Mellone. Sumptuous, elegant and well-appointed, the evocative space is more like that of a luxury hotel or residence than an office building.
‘Tishman Speyer, the developer who now owns Rockefeller Center, has worked to give the buildings’ lobbies an atmosphere of hospitality and transform them into spaces where people want to be and enjoy, not just like a stone box of mausoleum where you check enter and go upstairs,” says Andre Mellone, director and founder of the company. “This renovation is part of a larger project to revamp Rockefeller Center and do more for New Yorkers, not just a tourist destination.” With plans to elevate the retail offering and assortment of food and beverages available in the surrounding area – the signs of which have already become evident over the past year – the neighborhood is on the verge of a rebirth. .
Originally built in 1938, 50 Rockefeller Plaza once housed the Associated Press and comes with a historic legacy of the city’s rise and fall since that time. While many other aspects of Rockefeller Center are under historic protection, this hall notably was not, allowing Mellone to undertake a complete renovation of the space.
“This hall had actually been renovated before [the] Landmarks [came into force], sometime in the 1970s, but it was one of the few places in the main Rockefeller buildings that we could actually touch,” continues Mellone. “We immersed ourselves in the history and style of Rockefeller Center. It’s such an icon of American Art Deco, so the idea was very much based on that movement, in terms of organization, furniture layout and choice of materials. The grand architectural gestures were trying to replicate some of the materials you see throughout the building.
Studio Mellone completely redesigned the space, replacing the existing cove-shaped ceiling and checkerboard stone floor with stark black terrazzo criss-crossed with brass detailing. The walls are made of Indiana limestone – a material typically found on the exterior of these buildings – which has been finished to allow for variation, giving off a parchment-like texture.
To furnish the space, Mellone turned to trusted collaborators and partners, including Green River Project to design the furniture and Apparatus to create the lighting. “All of this was happening during the pandemic and it became an indirect gesture of pride: New Yorkers for New York, the site being so symbolic for the city,” he explains. “I felt that Green River Project’s designs were a very modern take on art deco, in terms of proportions, details and their contrast of materiality and roughness. Same with Apparatus, which adapted a design and enlarged it for us. It’s a contemporary design that has a decorative touch to it. One of the biggest compliments I get is that I feel like it’s been there forever. was a concrete box and everything you see here is part of the renovation.
Mellone’s vision encompasses not only the main lobby lounge, which is open to the public, but also the bank of elevators and a cafe-style ancillary room, which provides access from 51st Street, and additional space where visitors can sit.
He says, “It’s an office building, in theory, but the lobby is public. The developer’s intentions are multiple and they want the tenants to use the space, but because the main entrance is busy, this activity spills over into the lobby. The new roof terrace is also accessible through this hall, so there are all these arteries that cross it. §