Tag Archives: noho

NoHo - Bayard Condict Building

NoHo (Manhattan)

NoHo – for NOrth of HOuston* Street (as contrasted with SoHo, SOuth of HOuston Street) is a landmarked, primarily residential upper-class neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan. The district is wedged between Greenwich Village and the East Village. It is bounded by Broadway to the west and the Bowery to the east, and from East 9th Street in the north to East Houston Street in the south.

Through four separate designations (see below) in 1966, 1999, 2003, and 2008, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission has preserved almost the entire district. Modern glass towers have sprouted up at the fringes, and even within the district – before the LPC could act.

* Attention, visitors: New Yorkers pronounce this as HOW-ston Street.

NoHo Recommended Reading
NoHo Buildings Pictured
Building / Address Year Architect
10 Astor Place aka 444 Lafayette Street 1876 Griffith Thomas
640 Broadway 1897 DeLemos & Cordes
700 Broadway 1891 George B. Post
Astor Place, 445 Lafayette Street 2005 Gwathmey, Siegel & Associates
Bayard-Condict Building, 65 Bleecker Street 1899 Louis H. Sullivan and Lyndon P. Smith
Bleecker Tower, 644 Broadway 1891 Decatur Hatch
Engine Company 33, 42 Great Jones Street 1898 Ernest Flagg, W.B. Chambers
Schermerhorn Building, 380 Lafayette Street 1888 Henry Janeway Hardenbergh

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Cable Building

Cable Building

Cable Building, at the southwestern corner of the NoHo Historic District, is the last remnant of a San Francisco-style cable car system that once served lower Manhattan. The nine-story* Beaux Arts building housed the massive steam engines and winding wheels that pulled 40-ton cables at 30 mph. Alas, the cable system was uneconomical. The last cable car ran just seven years after the first.

For architects McKim, Mead & White, this was their first all-steel-frame building. The four-story-deep basement held the machinery. Above ground, it was a doughnut of offices built around a central light court. Both of the building’s Houston Street corners are chamfered. Light orange brick and terra cotta rise above the two-story limestone arcade base.

While Broadway’s Bowling Green-to-36th Street cable cars did not survive, Cable Building did. Metropolitan Traction Company reorganized as New York Railways Company, and sold the building in 1925. For the next six decades the structure housed small businesses and manufacturers. Then in the late 1980s it went back to being an office building.

Angelika Film Center took up residence in 1989, using the four basement floors.

* The building appears to be eight stories, if you count the floors of large windows. But tiny square windows tucked under the cornice – and larger windows in the north facade – reveal an attic ninth floor.

Cable Building Vital Statistics
Cable Building Recommended Reading

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Schermerhorn Building

The New York Community Trust landmark plaque says of the Schermerhorn Building: “This six-story building, erected in 1888 for William C. Schermerhorn, is one of New York’s outstanding manufacturing structures of the period. It demonstrated that a utilitarian building could have real artistic merit and need not be devoid of ornament. Its particular distinction lies in its rhythmic composition and in the interesting brick and sandstone detail. The architect was Henry Janeway Hardenbergh who also designed the Hotel Plaza, the Dakota Apartments and the American Fine Arts Society Building.”

(And while you’re in the neighborhood, don’t miss the landmark 1898 firehouse on the next block [east].)

Schermerhorn Building Vital Statistics
  • Location: 380 Lafayette Street at Great Jones Street
  • Year completed: 1888
  • Architect: Henry Janeway Hardenbergh
  • Floors: 6
  • Style: Romanesque Revival
  • New York City Landmark: 1966
  • National Register of Historic Places: 1979
Schermerhorn Building Suggested Reading

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Bond Street – NOHO

For a two-block stretch of New York real estate, cobblestone Bond Street packs a lot of architectural delights. Although Bond Street spans two landmark districts (NoHo Historic District and NoHo Historic District Extension), several high-priced condominium conversions on the street are anything but historic in appearance. Alas, landmark designation came in May 2008, after the original buildings had been demolished/rebuilt in modern styles.

The modern standouts in our photo gallery are numbers 25, 40, 41, 48 and 57 Bond Street; the “classics” are 670 Broadway, 1-5, 7-9, 24, and 54 Bond Street.

The cast green glass facade and white aluminum street-level filigree screen of 40 Bond are irresistible (to me). But directly across the street, 41 is impressively subdued monochromatic bluestone. Even the fire hydrant blends in. A few doors down, number 48’s grey granite facade is livened by the projection of random window panes – like giant glass teardrops.

At Bond Street’s western end, 670 Broadway’s brick and granite dates from 1873 and was originally Brooks Brothers’ home; across the street, 1-5 Bond Street is white cast iron construction with a Mansard roof. Just east of Lafayette Street, Gene Frankel Theatre resides at 24 Bond Street. This is the street’s playful element, with gilt dancers cavorting across and up three of the building’s six stories. (Robert Mapplethorpe’s studio was here 1972-1989.) At the Bowery end of Bond Street, number 54 is another cast iron building, the former Bond Street Savings Bank.

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Bleecker Tower

Bleecker Tower, originally the Manhattan Savings Institution, is a distinctive red sandstone and brick structure. Its chamfered corner and Romanesque arches are on a massive scale – appropriate for the bank that it was. (Lofts filled the upper stories.)

After mergers with two other banks, Manhattan Savings Institution became Manhattan Savings Bank – and closed the branch at 644 Broadway in the early 1940s. “MSI” remains embossed on the building’s copper pediment.

In the 1970s the owners converted the building to residential lofts; in the 1980s the building was converted again, to luxury loft apartments. In 2000 the owners embarked on a major facade restoration.

Bleecker Tower is in good company: Landmarked Empire State Bank Building is across the street; landmark Bayard-Condict Building is next door.

Bleecker Tower Vital Statistics
Bleecker Tower Recommended Reading

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Bayard-Condict Building

Bayard-Condict Building is New York’s only sample of the Chicago School architecture of Louis H. Sullivan. The 12-story steel-framed, terra-cotta-clad office building was considered a skyscraper when it was completed in 1899. It still glows a warm white at the T intersection of Bleecker and Crosby Streets, thanks to painstaking restoration in 1996.

The six-year, $800,000 project repaired almost 1300 terra cotta tiles; only 30 had to be replaced. In addition, restoration architects Wank Adams Slaving Associates located one of the elaborate original store front column capitals that had been ripped out during an early renovation – and made copies to restore the ground floor to its original design.

Louis Sullivan’s architectural innovation was to abandon the custom of designing and ornamenting buildings in the styles of the past – Beaux Arts, Classical Revival, Romanesque, etc. Instead, he created forms that accentuated a building’s height and structure – thin steel beams instead of massive masonry columns. Decoration, too, was modernized and Americanized.

(It should be noted that the six angels crowning the Bayard-Condict Building were not Sullivan’s idea. They were ordered by Silas Alden Condict.)

The building’s financial form was not as well designed as its facade. New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission notes that though the structure’s original name was to be Bayard Building, none of the prominent Bayard family was financially involved. The point became moot when construction delays resulted in a recall of the mortgage: New owners Emmeline and Silas Condict changed the name to Condict Building. A scant five months after the tower’s completion, the Condicts sold it to Charles T. Wills, the builder – who revived the Bayard name.

Bayard-Condict Building Vital Statistics
Bayard-Condict Building Recommended Reading

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Engine Company 33

Engine Company 33 firehouse embodies New York fire department architecture: big, bold, and colorful – like the men who live, work and sometimes die there.

The house dominates Great Jones Street on the block between Lafayette Street and The Bowery. Its monumental limestone Beaux Arts arch, scooped out of the four-story red brick facade like a band shell, recalls the top of New York’s demolished Singer Building. That tower, also designed by Ernest Flagg, was the world’s tallest building when completed in 1909 – 11 years after this firehouse.

The firehouse, now shared by Ladder Company 9, was among the first designed by Flagg. Until 1895, Napoleon Le Brun (and sons) had been the NYFD chief architect; the firm designed 40 firehouses in 16 years.

Tragically, this house lost 10 of its 14 firefighters on September 11, 2001. (The NY Times article was incorrect on this point.)

Engine Company 33 Vital Statistics
Engine Company 33 Recommended Reading

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700 Broadway

700 Broadway seems to have an ongoing identity crisis. Originally the Schermerhorn Building*, it was designed by George B. Post as a store. A decade later the Romanesque Revival structure was converted to showrooms, offices, storage and workshops. Then it became lofts. The building was vacant and abandoned for most of the 1980s, until the National Audubon Society took it over as their national headquarters in 1989. Lincoln Property Company bought the building in 2006, but sold it in 2008 to the law firm Weitz & Luxenberg.

The building became “green” as the Audubon House: A two-year restoration project triple-insulated the structure’s walls and roof, rebuilt interior spaces to make better use of natural lighting, and installed high-efficiency lighting and heating/cooling systems, among other improvements.

When Weitz & Luxenberg took over, the firm discovered that routine facade maintenance was anything but routine: Years of subway vibrations and freeze/thaw cycles had created severe structural damage – major cracks had developed and parts of the walls were leaning out over the street. Another two-year restoration project ensued, rebuilding and repairing the walls, cornice, and terra cotta ornamentation.

Architect George B. Post also designed the landmark New York Stock Exchange and Brooklyn Historical Society.

* Not to be confused with the Schermerhorn Building just two blocks away at 380 Lafayette Street.

700 Broadway Vital Statistics
700 Broadway Recommended Reading

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Astor Place

Astor Place, a blue-green glass exclamation point in NoHo, leaps up from the center of an architecture-rich neighborhood.* New York critics’ opinions seem as varied as the surrounding buildings.

The New York Times‘ review asked, All That Curvy Glass: Is It Worth It? Suzanne Slesin noted a disconnect “between the grittiness of the neighborhood and the shiny newness of Mr. Gwathmey’s design,” but focused on interiors. She loved the views from within all that wraparound floor-to-ceiling glass, but bemoaned the paucity of solid wall space for paintings and other essentials. (You can peruse floor plans at the Street Easy NY listing.)

The New Yorker called it the Green Monster. Paul Goldberger acidly remarked, “Its shape is fussy, and the glass façade is garishly reflective: Mies van der Rohe as filtered through Donald Trump.”

City Realty’s extensive review is more neutral and academic. Among other things, Carter Horsley reveals that the Gwathmey, Siegel & Associates design is actually the third proposal for that site. (Mr. Horsley previously wrote about real estate and architecture for The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, and New York Post.)

The developer, Related Companies, calls the design “Sculpture For Living.” And whether you like the building or not, the 39 multi-million-dollar condominium units are all sold.

* See Astor Place and Vicinity for a quick neighborhood tour.

Astor Place Vital Statistics
Astor Place Recommended Reading

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