Tag Archives: Ely Jacques Kahn

2 Park Avenue

2 Park Avenue is “one of [Ely Jacques] Kahn’s most dramatic and successful works and survives today as one of the most beautiful and distinctive office towers of the Art Deco period,” in the words of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

LPC continued, “Kahn was able to successfully integrate a new decorative type produced by the application of colorful terra-cotta panels in geometric designs to a tall, commercially successful office/loft structure. 2 Park Avenue was one of the important late 1920s buildings that helped create the visually lively and iconic city of the early 20th century.”

According to the commission, the building’s developers were not sure what they wanted to do with the structure. The neighborhood was in transition, and the dominant commercial tenant was unknown. The owners asked Kahn to design a building that could be used as offices and showrooms or for light manufacturing.

2 Park Avenue Vital Statistics
2 Park Avenue Recommended Reading

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Arsenal Building

The Arsenal Building, a 21-story Renaissance Revival loft building, was the first of 14 Garment District structures designed by Ely Jacques Kahn. The building is named for the New York State Arsenal that previously occupied the site.

(Not to be confused with The Arsenal at Fifth Avenue and 63rd Street, now used as a Parks Department administration building.)

At the time that this was built, loft buildings were notoriously cheap and utilitarian in construction – designed with little regard for aesthetics. Here, the developer and architect decided to invest in beauty (similar to the 1888 Schermerhorn Building in Greenwich Village, designed to demonstrate that a factory didn’t have to be ugly).

Incidentally, the Garment District’s development was quite controversial over the years. The city and the garment industry grappled with issues of worker safety, overcrowding, traffic, and disruption of business in the adjacent shopping district. The Skyscraper Museum exhibition “Urban Fabric” and Fashion Center pdf pamphlet “A Stitch In Time” have more background.

Arsenal Building Vital Statistics
Arsenal Building Recommended Reading

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1407 Broadway

1407 Broadway “is the dashingly inventive 1407 Broadway, from 38th to 39th Streets, built in 1950. Strip windows punctuate this intelligent, angular structure, and the green brick and rich red window framing make it an oasis in the near desert of early postwar architecture,” Christopher Gray wrote in The New York Times.

The building’s International style design is certainly a bright, colorful contrast with the Garment District’s 1930s loft buildings in Renaissance or Romanesque Revival style. 1407 Broadway also stands out because the tower is aligned with the Manhattan street grid, instead of with Broadway. The Plaza in front of 1411 Broadway (on the block north of 1407) makes the view from uptown particularly striking.

Though some have tried to get NYC Landmark status for 1407 Broadway, that hasn’t happened, yet.

1407 Broadway Vital Statistics
1407 Broadway Recommended Reading

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