The Modulightor Building located in Midtown East at 246 East 58th Street, a significant design by Paul Rudolph, was designated an Individual Landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in a unanimous vote on December 19, 2023. Designed in 1989, the initial construction was completed in 1993.
Walking past the Modulightor Building it’s impossible to miss the prominent facade of intersecting and overlapping horizontal and vertical rectangles of varying projection and size, and painted steel I-beams that form jigsaw-like screens. Behind the facade a split-level showroom and a supporting mezzanine gallery top interlocking subterranean floors of manufacturing below—all topped by a pair of duplex apartments. Two of the most significant aspects of 246 East 58th Street are the way Rudolph managed to bring light deep into the narrow building’s core and his deft manipulation of shadow.
Rudolph purchased what was originally an old rowhouse in 1989 in partnership with Ernst Wagner, with whom he founded an architectural lighting company in 1976 called Modulightor Inc. The company occupied the lower floors and thus the building took on the name. While the first four floors were completed in 1993, an additional two floors and a roof deck were constructed in 2016 after Rudolph’s death (1997). As built, the addition’s facade was partially inspired by the expansion schemes Rudolph proposed but it contrasts far more with the original building.
DOCOMOMO US/New York Tri-State testified in favor the designation along with many other preservation groups and individuals. Read the testimony letter.
“LPC Designates Two Modern Buildings as Individual Landmarks,” NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, December 19, 2023