Tag Archives: neo-Classical

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
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Bronx County Building

Bronx County Building (originally Bronx County Courthouse) is a monumental landmark of limestone and marble that blends modern and classical forms. It is made more prominent by its siting, raised on a granite podium between two parks – Joyce Kilmer Park to the north, Franz Sigel Park to the south.

The podium, most visible on the west and north facades, is functional: It contains a garage, among other things.

The design is symmetrical, each side almost identical except for the sculpture. A six-columned portico is centered on each side, flanked by a pair of pink marble sculpture groups. The north and south facades are broken by 13 lines of windows; the east and west facades have 15 bays. Polished copper spandrels separate the windows; the first-floor spandrels have nickel inlays.

The county’s judicial needs have outgrown the building – at one point the building was so crowded that there were reports of juries deliberating in storage rooms. Larger courts have since been built to the east on E 161st Street and to the north on Grand Concourse. The building now serves as the Bronx County municipal building.

Bronx County Building Vital Statistics
Bronx County Building Recommended Reading

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Medical Arts Building

The Medical Arts Building, now known as simply 57 West 57th Street, was designed by Warren & Wetmore. That’s the same firm that designed nearby Steinway Hall and the Crown (originally Heckscher) Building – and New York landmarks Grand Central Terminal, Helmsley (originally New York Central) Building, Biltmore Hotel, and Grand Hyatt New York (originally Commodore Hotel), among others.

As the name suggests, the building was conceived as a center for doctors, dentists and other medical practitioners. Several whole-floor clinics and sanitoriums took residence here. But as the Daytonian in Manhattan blog tells it, medicine was not all that was practiced here! Must read!

The building’s new owner specializes in pre-built office space. The building has been redesigned internally with movable walls on tracks. (See The New York Observer article.) Several companies have set up shop to offer office leases by the month, day – or hour.

While the building has traded commerce for medicine on the inside, the decorative arts are alive and well on the outside: A string of gilt-painted terra cotta adorns the white brick facades on Sixth Avenue and West 57th Street; a massive columned “temple” crowns the building. The gilt medallions are supposed to picture notable physicians; I haven’t located the names. Also, at this writing the building’s Sixth Avenue art deco entrance was covered in scaffolding, so I couldn’t photograph it.

Medical Arts Building Vital Statistics
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Stewart Building

Stewart Building, in the shadow of Langham Place, narrowly missed being under an office tower; landmark designation saved it, and the Wedgewood-like terra cotta still owns the corner of Fifth Avenue and W 37th Street.

(See The 1914 Stewart Building; A Delicate Work of Ceramic in the Path of a Tower for the full story.)

Architecturally, the Stewart Building’s claim to fame is the unusual mix of Chicago School style and neo-Classical design. The neo-Classical side brings the building’s blue-gray terra cotta cladding. The Chicago Style attributes include the three-part “Chicago Windows,” steel frame, and base-shaft-crown vertical design.

The Stewart Building was originally owned by Robert Walton Goelet – part of one of New York’s wealthiest families, with real estate holdings second only to the Astor family. Architects Warren & Wetmore also designed New York landmarks New York Central Building (aka Helmsley Building), the Heckscher Building, and Steinway Hall, among others. The builder was the George A. Fuller Company, which built thousands of buildings in New York and elsewhere – including the Plaza Hotel, United Nations headquarters, Lever House and Seagram Building.

Stewart Building Vital Statistics
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Jane Hotel

Jane Hotel, built in 1908 as the American Seamen’s Friend Society Sailors’ Home and Institute, once hosted Titanic survivors. It was designed by William A. Boring, who was also the architect for Ellis Island’s immigration station. Restored in 2008, the Jane Hotel now hosts financial survivors – in tiny rooms with shared bath priced as low as $79 per night.

The distinctive octagonal tower originally had a beacon, to welcome sailors. The beacon is gone, but other nautical connections remain. For starters, Jane Hotel rooms are called cabins. How tiny? A “remarkably cozy” 50 square feet. Some with bunk beds. The New York Times quipped, Popeye Slept Here and Now Olive Oyl Can, Too. the developers, Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode, also run the Maritime Hotel – a former sailor’s hostelry run by the National Maritime Union.

In 1931 the Home and Institute was downgraded to annex status, and in 1944 the YMCA took over the property, removing the beacon in 1946. Also in 1946, YMCA sold the building; it changed hands several more times over the years, finally becoming Riverview Hotel before MacPherson and Goode took over. (See the Corbin Plays portfolio for historic photos of the building with beacon. The PreservationNation Blog has current interior photos.)

In the 1970s and until 2005, the Jane Street Theater called this home.

The Greenwich Village waterfront now attracts joggers instead of sailors. The Jane Hotel is an architectural reminder of New York’s history as a seaport – and a haven (says the hotel) for travelers “with more dash than cash.”

Jane Hotel Vital Statistics
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One Broadway

One Broadway is a building within a building: Strip away the 1921 Neo-Classical white limestone skin and you’ll find a red brick and brownstone Queen Anne-style structure built in 1887.

(For a rare look at the “before,” take a look at Archiseek‘s article.)

Also beneath the facade, you’ll find layers of history – condensed here from the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission report:

The 1887 building, built on the site of a home reputedly used by General Washington, was named the Washington Building. It was built for Cyrus W. Field, whose Atlantic Telegraph Company laid the first transatlantic telegraph cable. The architect, Edward H. Kendall, also designed the Gorham Mfg. Building and the Methodist Book Concern.

J.P. Morgan’s International Mercantile Marine Company (IMMC) bought the building in 1919; Walter B. Chambers re-designed the structure inside and out. With competitor Cunard Line just a few doors up Broadway, the International Mercantile Marine Company Building became the anchor for “Steamship Row.” IMMC operated numerous subsidiaries, including Titanic‘s White Star Line. By 1940 internal mergers reduced the company to United States Lines, which took over the building from 1941 to 1979. Allstate Life Insurance Co. bought the building at a foreclosure sale in 1992 and financed a $2 million restoration in 1993-1994.

The building is now occupied by a branch of Citibank and Kenyon & Kenyon LLP – an intellectual property law firm.

One Broadway Vital Statistics
One Broadway Recommended Reading

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19 E 72nd Street

19 E 72nd Street belies its Great Depression heritage. Clad in expensive limestone top to bottom, designed by two of New York’s premiere architects, this landmark apartment building is quietly elegant. Quite at home with the neighboring mansions and Madison Avenue boutiques.

19 E 72nd Street Vital Statistics
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