Art Deco Architecture

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Waldolf-Astoria Hotel, NYC, New YorkPhoto by Spencer Platt
From a story on a huge real estate deal this week, the sale of the historic Waldorf-Astoria for almost $2 billion (!).
This brief in Architectural Digest of a nice short summary of the building’s history:

Hilton Worldwide Holdings announced yesterday the sale of one of the country’s most iconic hotels, Manhattan’s Waldorf-Astoria. Chinese Anbang Insurance Group will pay $1.95 billion for the property, which has long been a fixture in New York society.
To look back at the Waldorf’s past is to unwind a tale involving some of the biggest players in American real estate and culture. The original Waldorf Hotel was opened in a small space on 33th Street by William Waldorf Astor. Not to be outdone, Astor’s cousin, John Jacob Astor IV, opened the competing Astoria hotel on a neighboring site four years later. Eventually the two were joined with a corridor, and the property acquired its now famous hyphenated name. 
A few decades later, the prominent family sold the original hotel to developers to make way for another landmark—the Empire State Building. The hotel moved several blocks north to its current address at 301 Park Avenue in 1931. Its new home, the stately Art Deco palace on one of the city’s most illustrious streets, was designed by New York firm Schultze and Weaver (previously of Hotel Pierre fame) and briefly reigned as the world’s largest and tallest hotel. In 1949 it passed into the hands of another fabulously wealthy American, Conrad Hilton, under whose management the property saw massive restorations by architect Lee Jablin.
The Waldorf’s future remains uncertain with the sale, but such a high valuation seems promising for its preservation. Although Anbang will own the property, Hilton’s management contract has been extended, ensuring some sense of continuity. Here’s hoping the new owner respects tradition while ushering this historic hotel smartly into the modern era.

Waldolf-Astoria Hotel, NYC, New York
Photo by Spencer Platt

From a story on a huge real estate deal this week, the sale of the historic Waldorf-Astoria for almost $2 billion (!).

This brief in Architectural Digest of a nice short summary of the building’s history:

Hilton Worldwide Holdings announced yesterday the sale of one of the country’s most iconic hotels, Manhattan’s Waldorf-Astoria. Chinese Anbang Insurance Group will pay $1.95 billion for the property, which has long been a fixture in New York society.

To look back at the Waldorf’s past is to unwind a tale involving some of the biggest players in American real estate and culture. The original Waldorf Hotel was opened in a small space on 33th Street by William Waldorf Astor. Not to be outdone, Astor’s cousin, John Jacob Astor IV, opened the competing Astoria hotel on a neighboring site four years later. Eventually the two were joined with a corridor, and the property acquired its now famous hyphenated name. 

A few decades later, the prominent family sold the original hotel to developers to make way for another landmark—the Empire State Building. The hotel moved several blocks north to its current address at 301 Park Avenue in 1931. Its new home, the stately Art Deco palace on one of the city’s most illustrious streets, was designed by New York firm Schultze and Weaver (previously of Hotel Pierre fame) and briefly reigned as the world’s largest and tallest hotel. In 1949 it passed into the hands of another fabulously wealthy American, Conrad Hilton, under whose management the property saw massive restorations by architect Lee Jablin.

The Waldorf’s future remains uncertain with the sale, but such a high valuation seems promising for its preservation. Although Anbang will own the property, Hilton’s management contract has been extended, ensuring some sense of continuity. Here’s hoping the new owner respects tradition while ushering this historic hotel smartly into the modern era.

Filed under waldorf-astoria waldorf-astoria hotel real estate art deco architecture nyc manhattan new york city historic hotel

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Verizon Building, NYC, New Yorkvia Investors.com
From a business article on condo conversions. This is the lobby of a former telecommunications building in TriBeCa that is now super upscale condos. As a resident of a two condo conversions (first a historic bank building, then a former luxury office building), I approve, though maybe not of $2 million condos. -Wendy
From the article:

A decade ago, developers nationwide were busy snatching up apartment buildings and converting the units to condominiums to cash in on rapidly rising home prices supported by low interest rates and lax mortgage underwriting standards.The strategy still stands as a testament to the fervent homeownership boom, which ended abruptly — and messily — amid the financial crisis, the bursting of the housing price bubble and the collapse of the condo mortgage industry. The fallout largely led to foreclosures and bankruptcies, as developers were unable to unload the units.But now, with demand for residential ownership ratcheting up in major markets where the emphasis for years has been on apartment development, condo conversions are making a comeback.

Verizon Building, NYC, New York
via Investors.com

From a business article on condo conversions. This is the lobby of a former telecommunications building in TriBeCa that is now super upscale condos. As a resident of a two condo conversions (first a historic bank building, then a former luxury office building), I approve, though maybe not of $2 million condos. -Wendy

From the article:

A decade ago, developers nationwide were busy snatching up apartment buildings and converting the units to condominiums to cash in on rapidly rising home prices supported by low interest rates and lax mortgage underwriting standards.

The strategy still stands as a testament to the fervent homeownership boom, which ended abruptly — and messily — amid the financial crisis, the bursting of the housing price bubble and the collapse of the condo mortgage industry. The fallout largely led to foreclosures and bankruptcies, as developers were unable to unload the units.

But now, with demand for residential ownership ratcheting up in major markets where the emphasis for years has been on apartment development, condo conversions are making a comeback.

Filed under art deco architecture 1930s architecture real estate condo conversion adaptive reuse historic preservation nyc manhattan new york city tribeca

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“City Activities with Dancehall” by Thomas Hart Bentonvia Forbes Life
Early 1930s epic mural cycle goes on display at the Metropolitan.
From Forbes:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has put its epic, 1930’s Thomas Hart Benton mural cycle, “America Today,” on display in its American wing for the first time since it received the cycle from AXA Equitable Life Insurance company in 2012.
“America Today,” one of Benton’s most famous works and considered one of the most significant American works of its period, was painted by the artist in 1930 and 1931 for the boardroom of the modernist, Greenwich Village building of the New School for Social Research. It was commissioned by the school’s director, Alvin Johnson, who made the institution a center for progressive thought and education.
The 10-panel mural cycle depicts a panoramic sweep of rural and urban American life on the eve of the Great Depression, with allusions to race relations and social values, and simultaneous celebration of the themes of industry, progress and urban life. A variety of pre-Depression types—including flappers, farmers, steel workers and Wall Street tycoons, among others—is shown.
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“City Activities with Dancehall” by Thomas Hart Benton
via Forbes Life

Early 1930s epic mural cycle goes on display at the Metropolitan.

From Forbes:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has put its epic, 1930’s Thomas Hart Benton mural cycle, “America Today,” on display in its American wing for the first time since it received the cycle from AXA Equitable Life Insurance company in 2012.

“America Today,” one of Benton’s most famous works and considered one of the most significant American works of its period, was painted by the artist in 1930 and 1931 for the boardroom of the modernist, Greenwich Village building of the New School for Social Research. It was commissioned by the school’s director, Alvin Johnson, who made the institution a center for progressive thought and education.

The 10-panel mural cycle depicts a panoramic sweep of rural and urban American life on the eve of the Great Depression, with allusions to race relations and social values, and simultaneous celebration of the themes of industry, progress and urban life. A variety of pre-Depression types—including flappers, farmers, steel workers and Wall Street tycoons, among others—is shown.

(more…)

Filed under thomas hart benton 1930s art mural fine art metropolitan museum of art america today new school for social research nyc new york city

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Lobby, 140 West Street, NYC, New YorkPhoto by Michael Nagle for the New York Times
Utterly stunning lobby. Photo from a NYT article on adaptive reuse of historic buildings. As a resident of a 101-year-old former office building, I totally support this. -Wendy 
From the article, which appeared in July

But the 31-story Verizon building at 140 West Street, across from One World Trade Center in the financial district, may be the grandest of the bunch.
The full-block 1927 edifice, which like the other two phone buildings was designed by Ralph Walker, a prominent Art Deco architect, has an exterior lavishly decorated with carvings of vines, flowers and birds; it is a landmark, as is its vividly finished lobby, whose walls are trimmed in gold paint.
Upstairs, the developers the Magnum Real Estate Group and the CIM Group are adding 161 condos, from one- to five-bedrooms, in a project called Barclay Square, which will have the address of 100 Barclay Street, after the developers create a new entrance out of a loading bay.
The units are expected to hit the market in September, for $2,100 to $3,000 a square foot, said Ben Shaoul, Magnum’s president, although the offering plan for the $500 million project still awaits approval.
Phone companies need less equipment these days, but Verizon isn’t leaving completely; it will retain Floors 1 to 10 in a sharing arrangement similar to the Walker and Stella towers.
But to offer 47,000 square feet of amenity space, Magnum will avail itself of about half of that gilded lobby, which will be walled off and turned into a lounge. Residents will be able to enjoy their morning coffee, Mr. Shaoul said, under murals of the history of communication. One painting on the condo’s side shows a megaphone-carrying Egyptian. “You couldn’t build a space like this today,” he said.

Lobby, 140 West Street, NYC, New York
Photo by Michael Nagle for the New York Times

Utterly stunning lobby. Photo from a NYT article on adaptive reuse of historic buildings. As a resident of a 101-year-old former office building, I totally support this. -Wendy 

From the article, which appeared in July

But the 31-story Verizon building at 140 West Street, across from One World Trade Center in the financial district, may be the grandest of the bunch.

The full-block 1927 edifice, which like the other two phone buildings was designed by Ralph Walker, a prominent Art Deco architect, has an exterior lavishly decorated with carvings of vines, flowers and birds; it is a landmark, as is its vividly finished lobby, whose walls are trimmed in gold paint.

Upstairs, the developers the Magnum Real Estate Group and the CIM Group are adding 161 condos, from one- to five-bedrooms, in a project called Barclay Square, which will have the address of 100 Barclay Street, after the developers create a new entrance out of a loading bay.

The units are expected to hit the market in September, for $2,100 to $3,000 a square foot, said Ben Shaoul, Magnum’s president, although the offering plan for the $500 million project still awaits approval.

Phone companies need less equipment these days, but Verizon isn’t leaving completely; it will retain Floors 1 to 10 in a sharing arrangement similar to the Walker and Stella towers.

But to offer 47,000 square feet of amenity space, Magnum will avail itself of about half of that gilded lobby, which will be walled off and turned into a lounge. Residents will be able to enjoy their morning coffee, Mr. Shaoul said, under murals of the history of communication. One painting on the condo’s side shows a megaphone-carrying Egyptian. “You couldn’t build a space like this today,” he said.

Filed under art deco architecture 1930s architecture nyc new york city manhattan adaptive reuse historic preservation nyc real estate real estate

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Always Iconic, Empire State Building Now Goes for Hip

Commercial real estate feature on recent upgrades at the Empire State Building< meant to attract high-end tenants. This after the building’s lobby has completed a total renovation and the building has undergone a massive overhaul to meet or exceed modern energy standards. -Wendy

From the NYT:

Workers inside the Empire State Building may soon be able to imagine testing their weight-lifting prowess or other muscle-building regimens against the mythical feats of King Kong who once scaled this building’s facade.

This summer, a 15,000-square-foot fitness center for tenants and their employees will open in the concourse of the Empire State Building, part of an effort to reinvent the 83-year-old tower as a modern day urban campus.

The gym, with white, undulating tile walls and dark wood finishes, can accommodate the building’s roughly 10,000 workers. Executives who don’t want to work out with the rank-and-file will have access to a private gym suite.

Other changes to the Art Deco landmark are also meant to appeal to a high-end market. Empire State Realty Trust, which owns and operates the building at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, is also adding a conference center on the 67th floor and a 100-seat white-tablecloth restaurant on the lobby level, with private dining below. The restaurant, State Bar and Grill, wants to cater to a business clientele, rather than the millions of tourists who visit the observatory every year (about 4.3 million in 2013).

Filed under empire state building skyscraper real estate nyc new york city manhattan commercial real estate

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Feeling Like A Kid Again At FiftyThree’s Creative NYC HQ

Article with video on a NYC IT firm based in the former Western Union building in TriBeCa:

FiftyThree is located in the historic Western Union building, which was a nexus for communications back in the days of the telegraph and continues to be a key networking hub for the Internet today. Built in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Western Union building is a prime example of Art Deco architecture, so it’s fun to experience the contrast of passing through the building’s Deco-ed out lobby on the way to FiftyThree’s much more modern and Zen inspired space.

More…

Filed under fiftythree western union building nyc new york city manhattan real estate interior design