11 Most Endangered Historic Places

2 Columbus Circle

Year Listed: 2004
Location: New York
Threat: Development

 

 

2
View of the auditorium in the 2 Columbus Circle building in New York City.

Credit: National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Significance

Created by architect Edward Durell Stone, who also designed Washington's famed Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 Columbus Circle is a nationally recognized - albeit controversial - icon of the Modern Movement. Sporting a marble skin, porthole windows and a street-level arcade that critics have likened to a row of lollipops, the unorthodox building is radically different from the glass-and-steel boxes typical of its era. Now it is slated to be sold and renovated as a permanent home for the Museum of Arts and Design. That's the good news; the bad news is that the design proposed for the new use would strip 2 Columbus Circle of its architectural integrity, and since it is not protected by New York's preservation ordinance, these changes could be made without any kind of preservation review. This means that unless the new owner can be persuaded of the building's significance, sweeping architectural changes could rob 2 Columbus Circle of its distinctive character and rob America of an engagingly quirky icon of the recent past.