Tag Archives: Warren & Wetmore

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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Plaza Hotel

The century-old Plaza Hotel has changed hands several times, but it remains an architectural – and hospitality – landmark. As such, the Plaza has accumulated a history that is both educational and entertaining.

The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report for the hotel’s interiors is a rich narrative about the hotel, its owners, architects, renovations and occupants. The Wikipedia entry adds more popular details, such as the movies and television shows in which the Plaza has appeared.

Trivia buffs, add this to your repertoire: The current property is the second Plaza Hotel on this site; the first hotel (also considered among the finest in New York) was demolished after 15 years to make way for an even grander property. Also: Fairmont Hotels & Resorts manages the Plaza – and also Boston’s Fairmont Copley Plaza – which was also designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh.

Hardenbergh also designed the Dakota Apartments, the Western Union Telegraph Company Building, and the Schermerhorn Building in New York. He designed the Waldorf and Astoria Hotels (then located at Fifth Avenue from 33rd to 34th Streets), among other prominent buildings now demolished.

Plaza Hotel Vital Statistics
  • Location: Central Park South at Grand Army Plaza
  • Year Completed: 1909; addition, 1921
  • Architect: Henry Janeway Hardenbergh; addition, Warren & Wetmore
  • Floors: 20
  • Style: Second Empire Baroque
  • New York City Landmark: 1969
  • National Register of Historic Places: 1978
Plaza Hotel Suggested 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
Medical Arts Building Recommended Reading

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Madison Belmont Building

The Madison Belmont Building was a prominent addition to the young “Silk District,” commercial buildings serving the silk industry that replaced the mansions of uptown-bound wealthy New Yorkers. It was among the first in the U.S. to use Art Deco design elements, according to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. The overall design, however, was traditional. Like other tall buildings of the time, the Madison Belmont Building had a base – shaft – capital organization mimicking a classical column.

Although architect Whitney Warren had been exposed to Art Deco concepts while in Paris, it appears that prime tenant Cheney Silk Company also influenced the design. The company had a relationship with Edgar Brandt, a pioneer of the Art Deco style in Paris. Warren picked Brandt to design the iron and bronze framing around the showroom windows of the lower three floors, as well as the entrance doors and grilles.

The white 18th floor was added in 1953 – 29 years after the original construction.

Despite the Madison Belmont Building’s pioneering role, architects Warren & Wetmore are better known for their neo-Renaissance and Beaux Arts works, such as the New York Yacht Club, Grand Central Terminal, New York Central Building (aka Helmsley Building), Steinway Hall, Aeolian, and Heckscher Building (aka Crown Building).

Madison Belmont Building Vital Statistics
Madison Belmont Building Recommended Reading

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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
Stewart Building Recommended Reading

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