Tag Archives: chelsea

244 W 23 Street

244 W 23 Street

244 W 23 Street shows the versatility of brick, which mimicks rough-cut stone on lower floors and forms fluted pilasters on upper floors. The builder went to the expense (according to Daytonian in Manhattan) to use carved stone instead of terra cotta to ornament the facade. Sadly, subsequent owners splashed red paint over the whole facade – covering some of the stonework and all of the mortar lines.

The building was converted to co-op apartments in 1982, ending a colorful commercial history. In its first 82 years the building was home to a publisher, a filmmaker, an art school, a piano factory and more, according to the Daytonian in Manhattan blog.*

244 W 23 Street Vital Statistics
244 W 23 Street Recommended Reading

* Daytonian in Manhattan – one of my favorite resources – is the work of Tom Miller, assisted by photographer Alice Lum. If you enjoy his blog, you’ll love his book: “Seeking New York.” In it, you’ll find the human stories behind 54 historic Manhattan buildings, mostly seldom-profiled pieces of architecture.

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240 W 23 Street

240 W 23 Street, described as “eclectic” in the “AIA Guide To New York City,” is right at home on an eclectic block of Chelsea. C.P.H. Gilbert, best known for elaborate mansions, designed the commercial structure with almost as much detail as his gothic Ukrainian Institute (former Harry F. Sinclair House). The lofts-turned-apartments sits among official and unofficial landmarks such as the Chelsea Hotel (two doors east), Muhlenberg Branch of the NY Public Library, and McBurney YMCA.

There seems to be some confusion about the building’s age. The AIA Guide reports “1880s”; Daytonian in Manhattan says 1899; the Department of Buildings says 1920; most real estate sources list 1930. Since Daytonian in Manhattan seems to have done the most research, I’m going with 1899.

240 W 23 Street Vital Statistics
240 W 23 Street Recommended Reading

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Maritime Buildings

Once upon a time the National Maritime Union was so big it had three “headquarters” buildings in New York: The actual headquarters on Seventh Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets (Joseph Curran Building, 1964); an annex between 16th and 17th Streets just off Ninth Avenue (Joseph Curran Annex, 1966); and then a plaza – an annex to the annex if you will – that ran along Ninth Avenue (Joseph Curran Plaza, 1968). All three of the so-called Maritime Buildings were architectural standouts, designed by Bronx-born but New Orleans-based architect Albert C. Ledner.

Alas, New York’s maritime jobs dried up and the union sold all three buildings.

St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers acquired the headquarters and renamed it the Edward & Theresa O’Toole Medical Services Building. St. Vincent’s later (2007) wanted to replace the O’Toole Building with a new 21-story hospital, but official NYC Landmark status (as part of the Greenwich Village Historic District) apparently saved it – temporarily. The Landmarks Commission later (2011) granted a “hardship” exemption allowing demolition. As of November, 2011, the plan is to keep the shell but demolish the interior and build a smaller facility: 140,000 square feet, down from 160,00 square feet. The conversion is to be completed by November, 2015.

Covenant House purchased the annex and plaza, after fighting off a challenge by then-Mayor Ed Koch, who wanted the buildings for a prison; later the plaza building was converted to the Maritime Hotel. The annex itself has been converted to the Dream Downtown Hotel. This is actually the second renovation of the annex. The building originally had 100 porthole windows in its sloping 12-story white tile facade; in later years the new owners built fake brick storefronts at ground level in an attempt to better blend in with the neighborhood (pictured on p. 179 of “Five Hundred Buildings of New York”). The Dream Downtown Hotel conversion has removed the fake storefronts and applied a metal skin. The windows are still round, but there are more of them on the 17th Street side and the overall effect is more like Swiss cheese rather than portholes. The 16th Street facade is now vertical, not sloping, and covered with a perforated dual-layer metal skin that frames 35 very large circular “windows” which are actually tiny balconies. The real (floor to ceiling) windows are behind.

The plaza building has changed the least. It was originally built as a dormitory for seamen; the nautical-themed hotel conversion was natural. And from the outside, “pizza box” is still an apt description.

Joseph Curran Building Vital Statistics
  • Location: 36 Seventh Avenue between W 12th and W 13th Streets
  • Year completed: 1964
  • Architect: Albert C. Ledner
  • Floors: 6
  • Style: Modern
  • New York City Landmark: 1969 (part of Greenwich Village Historic District)
Joseph Curran Annex Vital Statistics
  • Location: 355 W 16th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues
  • Year completed: 1966
  • Architect: Albert C. Ledner
  • Floors: 12
  • Style: Modern
Joseph Curran Plaza Vital Statistics
  • Location: 363 West 16th Street at 9th Avenue
  • Year completed: 1968
  • Architect: Albert C. Ledner
  • Floors: 12
  • Style: Modern
Maritime Buildings Suggested Reading

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Posterized Photos

This gallery is just for fun – posterized versions of images used elsewhere in this site. These images all started out normally – sets of bracketed exposures. Then I used Photomatix software to apply color shifts and luminosity effects with the “Grunge” preset. (See NewYorkitecture.com Photography Technique for more information about this technique.)

The images in the gallery are of buildings in the Chelsea, Soho, Ladies Mile, Civic Center, Astor Plaza and Flatiron districts.


Chelsea began in 1750 as a single estate, extending from what is now 28th Street south to 19th Street, and from the Hudson River east to Eighth Avenue. Now in its third century of subdivision, the neighborhood’s definition has expanded south to 14th Street and east to Seventh Avenue.

Chelsea’s commercial and residential makeup has shifted like the tides: Breweries, warehouses, factories, film studios, theaters, town houses and tenements have come and gone; multiple rail lines, both street level and elevated, brought goods in and out (the last remnant is now The High Line park).

Contemporary Chelsea has luxury housing, shops and art galleries – overflow from SoHo. And although the neighborhood boasts three historic districts – Chelsea Historic District, Chelsea Historic District Extension, and West Chelsea Historic District – the neighborhood has a tremendous variety of architectural styles. You’ll find modern landmarks such as the IAC Building (2007) and 100 Eleventh Avenue (2009) just two blocks from the Gothic Revival style General Theological Seminary (1883).

For NewYorkitecture.com’s purposes, we are dividing this area into two parts: West Chelsea, the area between W 28th Street and W 15th Street west of The High Line; Chelsea, from W 28th Street south to W 15th Street and The High Line east to Seventh Avenue.

Among the Chelsea landmarks that are outside the Landmarks Preservation Commission-designated historic district are four notable whole-block structures.
Chelsea Market, the interconnected buildings between W 15th and W 16th Streets and Ninth to Tenth Avenues, is the former Nabisco plant where Oreos were invented and produced (now that’s historic!). An extension from Tenth to Eleventh Avenues is connected by a bridge. Today the buildings house stores, restaurants, offices and television production studios – including, appropriately, The Food Network. See more on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelsea_Market.

Just across Ninth Avenue from Chelsea Market is Port of New York Authority Commerce Building/ Union Inland Terminal No. 1. This is the one-time headquarters of the Port Authority (before they moved into the World Trade Center). Conceived as a warehouse/distribution center at a time when Hudson River piers were active and rail lines served Tenth Avenue, the building is now offices, and was purchased by Google in 2010. Some interesting background at: http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4949&page=73.

London Terrace Gardens apartments is 14 interconnected buildings between W 23rd and W 24th Streets, from Ninth to Tenth Avenue. When built in 1930, the complex was the world’s largest apartment building. The set has been broken up – the 10 inner buildings and the four avenue-facing towers have separate owners. See more at: http://www.londonterrace.com/building/history-photography.htm.

The Fashion Institute of Technology campus occupies eight buildings on two blocks: from Seventh (Fashion) Avenue to Eighth Avenue, W 26th Street to W 28th Street. The campus was built over the period of 1958 to 2001. See the Wikipedia article at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fashion_Institute_of_Technology.

Chelsea Recommended Reading

Also see High Line Park gallery.

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West Chelsea

Chelsea began in 1750 as a single estate, extending from what is now 28th Street south to 19th Street, and from the Hudson River east to Eighth Avenue. West Chelsea, the area bordering the Hudson River, became a massive warehousing district due to its proximity to Hudson River piers, freight yards and rail lines along Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. Now the piers have been converted to other uses and the last rail line was converted to The High Line park.

West Chelsea has a wide range of architectural styles. You’ll find modern landmarks such as the IAC Building (2007) and 100 Eleventh Avenue (2009) just seven blocks south of Starrett-Lehigh Building (1931) and Terminal Warehouse (1891).

(For NewYorkitecture.com’s purposes, we are defining West Chelsea as the area between W 28th Street and W 15th Street west of The High Line.)

Two massive full-block structures anchor the landmark district: Central Stores and Starrett-Lehigh Building. Outside the Landmarks Commission district – but certainly modern landmarks – are the IAC Building and neighboring 100 Eleventh Avenue.

Central Stores, Terminal Warehouse Company is actually 25 separate buildings between W 27th and W 28th Streets, from Eleventh to Twelfth Avenue. At one time, railroad tracks ran through the building, allowing transfer and storage of freight to/from trains. Modern-day uses included the Tunnel nightclub (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunnel_%28New_York_nightclub%29). Galleries, exhibits and events are now under development.

Just across W 27th Street, neighboring Starrett-Lehigh Building is a massive warehouse and office complex. Like Terminal Warehouse, Starrett-Lehigh was built to accommodate freight trains on its ground floor (previously the location of Lehigh Valley Railroad freight yards.) See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starrett-Lehigh_Building for more details.

The headquarters of InterActive Corp. (Eleventh Avenue from W 18th to W 19th Street) was designed by modern-day “starchitect” Frank Gehry. The massive glass “sails” were described by Vanity Fair as perhaps the world’s most attractive office building. But you can’t please everyone: “AIA Guide to New York City” sniffs, “Much has been made of Gehry’s use of the computer to transform the instant gesture into architecture, but here the gesture is static.” Wikipedia’s brief entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IAC_Building.

Next-door-neighbor 100 Eleventh Avenue uses layer upon layer of glass, set in steel frames – each frame different – to achieve its memorable mosaic façade. The luxury condominium apartment tower was completed in 2009. See the owner’s website: http://nouvelchelsea.com/architecture.php and the City Realty article: http://www.cityrealty.com/nyc/chelsea/100-eleventh-avenue/37641.

West Chelsea Recommended Reading

Also see High Line Park gallery.

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Chelsea Modern

Chelsea Modern is a stunning, award-winning residential design with innovative features – and with a perfect companion building next door on West 18th Street. Even with its mid-block location, the 12-story zig-zagging blue glass facade stands out.

Architect Audrey Matlock took a page from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building – perfectly matched window blinds are built in, so that no one can destroy the symmetry or color of the facade by installing, say, calico curtains. But condo buyers can alter their floor plans somewhat – some of the bedroom walls are movable. Handy when you need to make the guest room less hospitable. You can open the windows at Chelsea Modern – but not by sliding or swinging the sash: It moves straight out, parallel to the side of the building. Fresh air enters (or your culinary excesses exit) around the sides of the sash.

As with anything radical, Chelsea Modern has its passionate detractors. They lament “there goes the neighborhood” as historic architecture is razed and glazed. (See the Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York blog. Even if you don’t agree with the author, you have to appreciate the writing.) Two warehouses died in the making of this building.

Chelsea Modern Vital Statistics
Chelsea Modern Recommended Reading

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459 W 18th Street

459 W 18th Street so perfectly complements Chelsea Modern, the condo next door, you might think that they were one building. That’s quite a trick, considering that the two structures have different heights, widths, orientations, colors and materials – not to mention architects.

But 459’s vertically-aligned angles and stark black and white aluminum panels paradoxically marry the blue and white glass and horizontal lines of Chelsea Modern.

459 W 18th Street Vital Statistics
459 W 18th Street Recommended Reading

Click to access architecture090615.pdf

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IAC Building

“Starchitect” Frank Gehry’s first New York building, IAC Building, resembles billowing sails – appropriate, just across 11th Avenue from the Hudson River.

The building’s skin is fritted glass – glass panels with ceramic paint heat-fused to the surface. This high-tech finish keeps the building cooler, but (at least in this application) looks a bit like it was spray-painted white. (Visit the IAC HQ website for short time-lapse construction videos; you’ll see the building’s concrete skeleton without the glass skin.)

There are no windows with traditional frames – continuous ribbon windows are formed by the non-fritted band of glass on each floor. There very nearly are no exterior doors – the exterior openings are small, minimally framed glass doors. The main entrance, on W 18th Street, has a tiny flat glass canopy. The rear service and garage entrances have no canopy.

IAC Building Vital Statistics
IAC Building Recommended Reading

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Eventi Hotel-Beatrice Residences

Eventi Hotel-Beatrice Residences is a recent 53-story mixed-use tower at the edge of Chelsea. The lower 24 floors are the 290-room hotel operated by Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants; floors 25 though 53 contain 302 luxury rental apartments and a residents’ lounge. The Eventi Hotel lobby opens on Sixth Avenue, while Beatrice Residences lobby opens on W 29th Street.

The facades of the hotel floors are precast concrete panels interspersed with large floor-to-ceiling windows in alternating patterns; the apartment floor facades are almost solid glass; the two sections are separated by a black band – a mechanical floor.

The hotel’s restaurants face the mid-block plaza – which is dominated by a jumbotron display. Windows in the four-story base can be lit with LEDs for a colorful display at night. A three-level, 500-car garage sits under the hotel.

Eventi Hotel-Beatrice Residences Vital Statistics
Eventi Hotel-Beatrice Residences Recommended Reading

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