How 767 Third Avenue Shed Its 1980s Design

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When the Kaufman family built 767 Third Avenue in the early 1980s, they had wanted to install a curved glass facade that allowed light into the lobby. But the technology to create large, curved glass panels didn’t yet exist, and wouldn’t for years.

So the Kaufmans and their architects, Fox & Fowle, installed hundreds of small pieces of glass into a curved wooden frame, and constructed matching round wooden barrels to house the building’s revolving entrance doors.

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Jonathan Kaufman Iger, the heir to the Kaufman real estate empire and the head of Sage Realty, opted to renovate the building’s aging, dark lobby in 2019 and brought back Fox & Fowle — now FXCollaborative — to handle the redesign. Construction began in the summer of 2021 and wrapped in July.

“We can do what we would have done back then,” said Guy Geier, a partner at FXCollaborative who oversaw the project. “We started looking at how we could do this out of full-height, curved glass. Obviously, we were able to do it, but it’s not something that could have been done 10 years ago.”

A glass manufacturer in Germany crafted the 14-foot-tall curved panels of glass, which undulate along the edge of the building’s former curtain wall, replacing what had been 12-by-12-inch, single-paned pieces. The opaque, wooden revolving door structures have been demolished in favor of glass boxes.

The former brown tile floor has been replaced with a light gray terrazzo, and the elevator lobby has been reclad in curved, white quartzite panels that mimic the look of marble. The elevator cabs have also been updated with glass and metal trim, new wooden panels, and floors that match the lobby terrazzo.

A round, white concrete desk in the middle of the lobby replaced a wooden podium that served as a security guard’s station.

“We’re trying to minimize as much as possible the more security-related aspects,” said Geier. “Now it’s more of a greeting attitude — it’s lower, it’s a little more open, it fits in with the architecture of the space.”

The ceiling was redone so that the inside and outside ceilings would match, and new LED lighting was installed in the lobby and the outdoor plaza, which is a privately owned public space. Outside, the concrete pavers have been replaced and new, built-in seating added.

Kaufman also hopes to bring a rotating selection of food trucks into the outdoor plaza, where both tenants and passersby will be able to sit and have lunch.

Fogarty Finger also designed a new 8,000-square-foot amenity space on the seventh floor, which includes a cafe and bar, lounges, a more formal boardroom and an outdoor terrace.

Rebecca Baird-Remba can be reached at rbairdremba@commercialobserver.com.