Tag Archives: Murray Hill

200 Madison Avenue

200 Madison Avenue has a split personality. Its ornate neo-classical facade shelters a technically modernized interior. While the richly decorated lobby and elevator doors remain, the office tower has LEED energy certification.

If the ornamentation reminds you of the Helmsley Building (aka New York Central Building), that may be because Warren & Wetmore designed both. (Warren & Wetmore also designed Grand Central Terminal.) You’ll have to look up to enjoy the effect. The building’s ornamentation is primarily in the cornices, at the setbacks and crown.

Of historical note, this is where the Empire State Building developers had their offices during construction of New York’s most famous skyscraper.

200 Madison Avenue Vital Statistics
200 Madison Avenue Recommended Reading

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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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Church of the Incarnation

Church of the Incarnation and the adjoining H. Percy Silver Parish House (originally a rectory) have served the Murray Hill neighborhood for a century and a half, rebuilt after a serious fire in 1882. The rectory got a new facade in 1906, and was converted to a parish house in 1934.

Apart from the building’s longevity and classical design, the church is significant for its works of art: Stained glass windows, murals and sculpture by John LaFarge, Louis C. Tiffany, William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, Christopher LaFarge, Daniel Chester French, Henry Hobson Richardson and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The church’s website includes a virtual tour of the artwork. The Wikipedia entry also contains a list of the artworks and artists.

Several architects were involved in the church and parish house. Emlen Littell designed the original church; David Jardine designed the restoration (after the 1882 fire), which slightly modified the original plans; Heins & LaFarge designed the spire that was added in 1896. (A spire was part of Littell’s original plans, but not built.) The rectory (later parish house) has been attributed to Robert Mook, but may have actually been designed by Littell. In any case, the facade was rebuilt in 1806 in the design by Edward Pearce Casey – switching from Victorian Gothic to neo-Jacobean style.

Church of the Incarnation Vital Statistics
  • Location: 205 Madison Avenue at E35th Street
  • Year completed: 1864 (church), 1868 (parish house)
  • Architect: Emlen T. Littell (church), Robert Mook (parish house)
  • Style: Gothic Revival (church), Renaissance Revival (parish house)
  • New York City Landmark: 1979
  • National Register of Historic Places: 1982
Church of the Incarnation Suggested Reading

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Towne House

Towne House stands out in the Murray Hill Historic District. Amid blocks of low rise brownstones, Towne House towers 25 floors in Art Deco brick. It replaced five mid-1800s row houses, and touched off a lawsuit by neighbors who tried to block construction.

Despite its height and architectural style, at street level the building does blend in with the block; the most remarkable aspect is Towne House’s colorfully detailed tower, which catches the eye from blocks around.

Towne House Vital Statistics
Towne House Recommended Reading

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Morgan Court

Morgan Court is the New York sliver building, by virtue of being the set of the Sharon Stone movie “Sliver” as well as by its 33-foot-wide architecture.

Sliver buildings are the tall thin buildings that tower over their neighbors to become visual sore thumbs. This particular sliver building was thin in a second dimension: The foundation was finished one day before a zoning law that would have prohibited the structure went into effect. Morgan Court is a good 20 stories higher than its neighbors, which include the landmarks Church of the Incarnation and the Morgan Library and Museum.

To their credit, Liebman & Liebman Architects did make the building visually interesting, not just tall and skinny. The ribbon windows, curved southern corners, interlocking balconies on the front (Madison Avenue), and comb-like balconies at the northeast corner are more pleasing than some possible alternatives. The ribbon windows and balconies also have the effect of de-emphasizing Morgan Court’s height.

(Morgan Court takes its name from its proximity to the Morgan Library and Museum, a half block to the north on Madison Avenue.)

Morgan Court Vital Statistics
Morgan Court Recommended Reading

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