Surprised I didn’t find a topic for this already. May have missed it though, wouldn’t be the first time lol.
How 1 million square feet of New York office space was turned into apartments
One Wall Street provides a timely model for converting empty office buildings into residential units. The question now is how to create affordable adaptive reuse housing that won’t just cater to the elite.
BY ELISSAVETA M. BRANDON
The story goes that when Harry Macklowe, the prominent New York developer at the helm of Macklowe Properties, got into development in the 1960s, he acquired his first commercial loan from Irving Trust. Then located at the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street, the Irving Trust headquarters occupied all 50 floors of a grandiose Art Deco skyscraper. Now the story has come full circle, as Macklowe Properties nears the conversion of that same building—from a pillar of finance to a luxury condominium.
…The pandemic has changed how—and how often—we use offices. Companies all over the U.S. have been reducing their office footprints or shuttering offices altogether, and cities are now weighing whether to convert empty office buildings into housing. One Wall Street offers a timely (if expensive) model for this, and while that model may only apply to luxury living, it makes a solid case for adaptive reuse in a corner of Manhattan that is growing more residential every year. As more boardrooms become bedrooms, the question now remains to figure out how to transform these buildings into affordable housing that won’t just serve the elite.
At 1.2 million square feet, One Wall Street is the city’s largest-ever conversion of an office tower to housing. Standing one block from the New York Stock Exchange, the Art Deco landmark was the work of architect Ralph Walker, who designed a myriad of other Art Deco buildings in the city. Now, the conversion is being helmed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects in a collaboration with SLCE Architects, and the building is slated for completion later this year.
One Wall Street is actually two buildings: a 50-story tower from 1931, and a 30-story extension to the south, which Irving Trust commissioned in the early 1960s, almost doubling the building’s footprint. Protruding from the southern tower’s original facade, a glass annex now rises to about six stories and encompasses a 44,000-square-foot Whole Foods at its base, plus about 20 residential units above it. In total, the building now boasts 170,000 square feet of publicly accessible space across both towers.
“We took this opportunity to make what we call a mini-Rockefeller Center here,” says Richard Dubrow, director of marketing at Macklowe Properties, while on a recent tour of the building. On the side of the building that faces Wall Street, Macklowe Properties has spent $1 million restoring the famous Red Room, a 9,000-square-foot, mosaic-filled atrium created by artisan Hildreth Meière. Once a banking hall for Irving Trust’s most loyal clientele, the dazzling space will be occupied by a yet-to-be-announced retailer.
A three-story athletic center is mostly tucked underground (without much daylight), and a six-story addition on top will house more units, plus a 75-foot indoor pool, a private restaurant, and a landscaped terrace on the 38th and 39th floors.
Future residents will enter the building through a previously shuttered entrance on Broadway, which was restored to look like its original architect had intended it. Further above, swathes of offices, complete with fluorescent light and drop ceilings, metamorphosed into 566 living units ranging from studios to four-bedroom apartments. At the crown of the building, where the boardroom once stood, there is now a triplex penthouse that may fetch $40 million.
Office buildings, especially pre-war ones, don’t always make for easy conversions to housing. They weren’t built to maximize daylight, deep floor plates make it hard to utilize the core, and many windows didn’t open. (At One Wall Street, the Landmarks Preservation Commission allowed the developers to put in new windows while preserving their gently curved design.)
To avoid awkward layouts—and ensure that every apartment comes with windows—Macklowe moved the elevators from the perimeter to the center of the building. They also reduced the number of elevators from a mind-boggling 36 down to 12, split across the northern and southern towers. (The original elevator doors couldn’t be reused because they didn’t meet current building codes, but Dubrow said they will be reused in the Whole Foods downstairs.)
Most floors are laid out in an H-shaped figure, with two rows of apartments on each side, and the building core, which gets no daylight, has been given over to a series of storage rooms that can be found on virtually every floor. Perhaps the building’s biggest perks are the natural setbacks, which have been turned into outdoor terraces (they weren’t accessible before). I visited a two-bedroom unit on the sixth floor, and a three-bedroom unit on the 25th floor, all of which boasted unique layouts—elongated kitchens with chamfered windows, bedrooms with private terrace access—in part because of the setbacks.
Sales launched in October, but the developers aren’t releasing how many units have sold. What is clear is that, with about 190 different floor plans, the converted building provides an antithesis to the cookie-cutter apartments found in most new buildings. What is also clear is that, with enough capital, and the freedom that comes with gut renovations, almost every building, particularly more slender towers with compact floor plates, can be turned into housing.
Subscribe to read | Financial Times (ft.com)
One Wall Street: the residential takeover of a banking behemoth
The biggest office-to-apartments conversion in New York’s history signals a deeper shift in Manhattan power
It’s a good address. One Wall Street. Not a bad building either, one of Manhattan’s best Art Deco skyscrapers by its very best Art Deco architect. A good address, at least, for a bank. But for a home? Why would anyone want to live on Wall Street? In the heart of that famously potholed, intensely dense, dead-in-the-evening neighbourhood that stands for finance capital and the global hegemony of banking?
That this 50-storey tower has become the biggest office to residential development in New York’s history tells you something about the huge shift in finance, power, status and locus taking place in the city.
When it was designed for the Irving Trust in 1928, this was the most prestigious plot in the city, the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway by the Stock Exchange and Trinity Church. As it was rising from the ground, all around it the crash came and went on Wall Street, but this remained the finest real estate in global finance, surviving the Depression, the New Deal, the war, a restructuring, a transition to the Bank of New York, and 9/11. And now, in a perfect encapsulation of the shift in power from corporate to personal wealth, this one-time behemoth of banking and an eyrie for Wolfeian masters of the universe, is being bundled up into apartments. Bedrooms are rapidly displacing boardrooms, heated bathroom floors replacing trading floors.
When the site changed hands in 1905, at $615 per sq ft, it became the most expensive plot in America. There was no question, a century ago, that this was to be the commercial centre of the world, fast outpacing the City of London. Workers poured in every morning, but they flowed out again at the end of the day. Now, Downtown hosts a community of about 64,000 residents, double the number at 9/11.
Wall Street is not what it was. It has accrued a horrible acronym, FiDi, part of a package to make it appeal, incredibly (but successfully) to young families. Like the nearby Woolworth Building and dozens of other buildings in the immediate neighbourhood, one-time banks and brokerages are emerging from hoarding pupae as newly metamorphosed lofts and glamorous apartments. One Wall Street, though, is on another level: an Art Deco-shaped nail in the coffin of this global hub of banking. The institutions are still here, but they are shrinking back. It seems like every new tower and every tower that is being renovated is reappearing as residential.
One Wall Street’s change in destiny is being guided by Harry Macklowe, the developer who has set fashions in New York real estate for decades, from persuading Steve Jobs to build the “glass cube” Apple Store beneath his GM Building to his stark skinnyscraper at 432 Park……….
It’s a pretty good read. The rest of the article is in the link.
I was there last week. Fancy Whole Foods. Much needed for the residents in the area.