Imbuing Historic Buildings With Modern, Yet Respectful, Additions

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Given the never-ending forward march of architecture and technology, it’s no surprise the buildings being developed today are growing ever sleeker, taller and more modern. As these slender splinters reach for the Manhattan sky, the dense urban landscape is being filled with architectural wonders unimaginable a few generations ago.

Still, urban settings thrive on robust architectural diversity. Responsible developers recognize the importance of promoting adaptive reuse of treasured historic and vintage buildings. It isn’t a matter of simply saving these historic structures. The use of inventive additions, at once both modern and respectful, can help preserve the buildings while at the same time preparing them to more than meet the 21st Century’s evolving demands.

The following historic New York City structures all represent outstanding examples of this design principle elevated to something approaching an art as well as a science.

295 Fifth Avenue

Once considered the finest building on Fifth Avenue, 295 Fifth Avenue was known as

“The Textile Building” and housed textile industry tenants. The more than century-old building is now being redeveloped by Tribeca Investment Group with the intention of transforming its interior into a setting perfectly suited to today’s office workers.

A two-story, 34,000-square-foot STUDIOS Architecture-designed penthouse addition, borrowing from the building’s original neo-classical design, incorporates floor-to-ceiling high-vision glass that mimics the structure’s ground floor arched porticos.

122 Fifth Avenue

Manhattan’s Lower 5th Avenue neighborhood is the setting of this pre-turn-of-the-century building nestled between 17th and 18th Streets. STUDIOS Architecture and Bromley Companies partnered on this respectful top-to-bottom redesign, which yields a building entirely reimagined to address every need of large block tenants. Bromley Companies’ addition of a rooftop pavilion and terrace takes the building from its original 237,000 to more than 300,000 square feet. Expanding horizontally resulted in the relocation of the building’s core. That makes possible more efficient, larger floor plates as well as helping flood the space with greater natural light from the East.

555 Greenwich+345 Hudson

The continuing metamorphosis of a one-time printing and warehouse district into the emerging residential, commercial and retail hub known as Hudson Square calls for a newly developed signature building. That is what the enclave is gaining in COOKFOX Architects-designed 555 Greenwich, a 16-story, 270,000-square-foot office tower intended to align and combine with the existing 345 Hudson Street. Upon completion the result will be unusually large floor plates created when the new and older buildings mesh in almost seamless fashion on virtually every floor. As a bonus, users will enjoy façade setbacks, outdoor terraces and light-beckoning floor-to-ceiling windows.

330 Hudson

When this classic structure was completed in 1910, some of the finest Manhattan office buildings boasted high ceilings, brick walls and concrete floors. The modern reimaging of 330 Hudson starts with the original eight-story stone-and-brick base featuring operable, punched windows. Atop that historic plinth it has added an additional eight stories whose trademark is head-turning floor-to-ceiling fenestration. While 330 Hudson stands as a monument to an earlier Hudson Square and SoHo aesthetic, it also serves up the state-of-the-art infrastructure today’s business users demand.

60 Charlton

In the late teens, with the intention of creating a modern office building, APF Properties and Drake Street Partners gutted the six-story industrial building 60 Charlton, situated on Varick Street. In early 2019, work commenced on a six-story extension atop the historic building. The addition features a glass curtainwall system on a steel structure, as well as 14-foot ceilings and roof terraces.

Meanwhile, the legacy building has been accorded new and larger windows and its third floor eliminated to allow for a 22-foot-high second floor. The bones and brick façade of the building remain as they have for decades, a charming complement to the historic nook in which 60 Charlton is set.

378 West End Avenue

The art and science of combining old and new isn’t limited to office buildings. This brand new Upper West Side condominium featuring a number of health and wellness finishes pulls off the same brand of wizardry.

In the project, a 1915 Palazzo-style building overlooking Collegiate Church has been blended with a spanking new 18-story tower to create a development honoring the enclave’s rich architectural significance. The combined building boasts numerous nods to the church, including decorative screens and a custom-designed sundial integrated into the façade. By incorporating intricately-detailed masonry, expansive windows and terraces, COOKFOX Architects seamlessly marries historic and contemporary styles in reverential tribute to the architecture of the landmarked house of worship.

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