View Full Version : Herculean Effort to Restore Verizon Building - 140 West Street - by Ralph Walker

January 6th, 2003, 06:36 AM
January 6, 2003

Herculean Effort to Restore a Landmark Battered on 9/11


The gaping holes in the tan-brick facade of the Verizon Building are still open to the ground zero void. The blasted steelwork is jacked up like a Rube Goldberg contraption. Only four tortured pieces of the 72-foot ornamental entranceway bronze work now exist. Such are the wounds inflicted by the crushing debris from not one, but three, neighboring buildings: the north and south towers of the World Trade Center, and 7 World Trade Center, which pancaked next door.

But the Verizon Building is very much alive. Enduring a daily chaos of cement mixers and the sparks from welders' arcs, the building at 140 West Street is again sending out dial tones to 34,000 customers. It is putting stockbrokers online. It is generating revenue.

It is doing so without the 1,700 office workers who have been relocated to other buildings. Aside from communications equipment, the Verizon Building is populated only by a temporary staff of construction engineers and the 250 hard hats who are toiling there to bring it all back.

This seat-of-the-pants reconstruction of the landmark 32-story building could use a metaphor, and Dominic P. Veltri, Verizon's New York manager for design and construction, is ready to supply one. "What we're doing here is engineering on the fly," he said. "We're changing a flat tire on a bus going down the highway at 60 miles an hour."

Some bus. For four decades, the landmark 1926 Art Deco building at the corner of Vesey Street was the headquarters of the New York Telephone Company. It is currently the most visible symbol of reconstruction efforts at ground zero. For thousands of tourists gawking at the building, the grievous damage, and the army of construction workers swarming to mend it, are a sobering reminder not only of the horrors of the terrorist attack but also of the heroic efforts to clear the rubble and bring back Lower Manhattan.

Beyond this, the construction effort is a boost for a company that was besieged by service-restoration complaints after the terrorist attack, and has subsequently battled the Communications Workers of America in an eye-blackening advertising war over job security.

That culminated when Verizon, citing cellular and cable competition and federal regulatory strictures, laid off more than 2,700 workers in New York and New Jersey last month, generating a Christmas blizzard of news media reports about the plight of the newly unemployed.

To date, the reconstruction effort has not been affected by the fight with the union, although if picket lines materialize during contract negotiations next August, some construction workers may not cross.

The repopulation of 140 West Street with some office workers is now scheduled to begin at the end of 2003, but the rebuilding could continue for years.

So far, $70 million has been spent to stabilize the building, and the restoration is expected to cost at least $140 million more, only part of the $1.4 billion that Verizon is spending downtown to restore equipment and cables.

Since the day the building opened in 1926, it has been a beehive of both administrative and technical activity, and its design was considerably more than functional: it was intended to establish a presence, given the building's role as administrative headquarters and central office.

Nevertheless, according to George Famulare, Verizon's manager of corporate real estate, "the building is a tank." Built with reinforced concrete and steel, its floors can hold 250 to 300 pounds per square foot, constructed to support the giant electromechanical switching assemblies that were replaced long ago by electronic alternatives.

If that sturdiness accounted for its survival, the subsequent efforts to protect and restore 140 West Street have been nothing short of Homeric. Verizon lost two of its technicians, who were working above the crash zones, in the World Trade Center attack. None died in the Verizon Building.

Mr. Famulare supervised the evacuation after seeing people jumping from the towers. He found himself trapped under his desk after the ceiling fell during the collapse of the south tower. Eventually he escaped through the cloud of ash and dust looking like "a white powdered doughnut," he recalls. Then he stayed to shut down crucial equipment.

During the collapses, steel projectiles from the towers hit the Verizon building, sliced the mains and left water cascading into the building's five subbasements, filling the lowermost vaults like a swimming pool. A javelin of steel actually speared through the sidewalk concrete and lodged in the basement. The building's fuel oil tanks were submerged in water, then burst.

Up in the topmost subbasement, a pool of shin-deep water made unusable the miles of snaking phone cables (black for copper, orange for fiber optics) in the 250-foot-long, 60-foot-wide cable vault. At 10:21 p.m., the building's backup batteries ran out of power and the last call went through the switching equipment.

Below, Subbasement B held much of the telephone company's historical records, memorabilia and antique equipment, which was damaged by the flood. It took two months to pump out 12 million gallons of water mixed with 40,000 gallons of petroleum.

The building controlled 300,000 dial tone lines — 35,000 of them in the twin towers themselves — in a several-blocks-wide swath of Lower Manhattan stretching from the Hudson to the East River, affecting 20,000 residences and 14,000 businesses including the New York Stock Exchange.

Also down and out were 4.5 million data circuits, including high-speed Internet lines and connections to brokerages, Lotto terminals and A.T.M.'s.

"We deal with problems all the time — hurricanes, floods, fires — but this was an effort that had no parallel," said David A. Rosenzweig, vice president for northeast network operations. "It will never compare with what the police and firemen did, but our war was to restore service. For us, there was nothing else in the world."

As the salvage work began, all of the damaged phone systems were bypassed. And so, waterlogged, crushed phone lines in the cable vault were cut with a chain saw. New cables were spliced in, then snaked out to the sidewalks; soon 140 West Street was festooned with above-ground replacement cables.

Upstairs in the formerly sacrosanct, climate-controlled clean rooms that housed hundreds of telephone cabinets bearing computer switching cards, the walls had gone unimaginably missing; firefighters established their hoses there to fight the raging fire in 7 World Trade Center.

Some of the once-cosseted switching cabinets were actually suspended in midair, open to the elements, hanging from the building only by their power cables.

Service began to be restored three days after the terrorist attack. Ultimately, the workers brought back not just the infrastructure's "pots" but also the "pans": communications jargon for "plain old telephone service" and "pretty amazing new stuff," including high-speed T1 and T3 lines, multiplex connections (from electric to fiber optics) and digital cross-connect systems.

"It was like the Frankenstein monster," Mr. Veltri said. "Slowly, it came back to life." Ultimately, workers installed 45 miles of fiber optic cable and 22 miles of copper cable.

By the end of 2001, service was mostly restored, "though there were horror stories where people had problems into the next year," Mr. Rosenzweig said.

Now, much of the 14 floors of damage to the south-facing wall has been refaced with custom-fabricated brick from Stone Creek, Ohio. Gone is the 7 World Trade Center debris that was stacked up to Verizon's fifth floor.

Seven of the building's 23 elevators have been brought back. All 1,800 windows are being replaced. The restoration will ultimately require 520,000 facade bricks, 22,500 cinder blocks and 93 tons of structural steel.

In the lobby, 15 linen-backed ceiling murals — a flapper-era celebration of the history of communications also declared a landmark — were damaged by burst water mains and firefighting efforts. Four need extensive repair; all need cleaning.

Some of the most challenging restoration is proceeding far from the building. In a three-story former tin-ceiling plant in Brooklyn, a bronze foundry is using a 5,000-year-old casting procedure — the lost-wax method — to painstakingly restore the building's intricate bronze detailing.

There was damage to bronze at the main entrance on Washington Street, as well as to the decorations above the blown-out former retail storefronts, with their hand-rolled textured glass.

A vast fantastical bronze bas-relief of whales, pelicans and sea horses is being recast. "The molding process is sensitive enough to reproduce a fingerprint," said Bill Gold, president of the Excalibur Bronze Foundry, which also restored the bronze work in such landmarks as the main reading room of the New York Public Library.

Only four twisted chunks of the frieze — heated and bent in the collapse of "seven," as ground-zero hard hats call 7 World Trade Center — survived. The remainder is being copied from the building's undamaged western frieze.

As the effort proceeds, new workers will have to be trained in the art of bronze restoration, but already the veterans take special pride in their labor. The job "has no precedent," said a welder at the foundry, Milton Osborne. But though he is helping to rebuild 140 West Street, he has never gone to see the building "because," he said, "of the emotion of it."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

January 6th, 2003, 07:01 AM
Good article. *Nice to see the area slowly becoming the Phoenix!

January 6th, 2003, 11:30 AM
Nice article. As a telecom worker, I had been in the Verizon *building many times. In the Bell System days, we referred to it simply as "West St." That building, 32 Avenue of the Americas, and 60 Hudson St represent the history of telecommunications in NYC. A good example of the 1916 set-back law.

There was talk after 9/11 that the building would have to come down. Verizon took over the city owned lot at Warren and Greenwich, and brought in mobile switching equipment. They recently vacated the lot, so things must be pretty good inside.

Nice to see an old friend back on it's feet. *

TLOZ Link5
January 6th, 2003, 03:59 PM
The Verizon Building is a premier example of art deco architecture. *Such a grand old building; even Le Corbusier said that he liked it.

January 6th, 2003, 07:55 PM
It's not a bad building after all. In fact The Verizon Building is an architecturally excellent and structurally sound building. Its strong integrity saved all these phone lines from collapsing and causing even more economic damage. All it needs now is a new set of big twin brothers.

(Edited by Agglomeration at 6:57 pm on Jan. 6, 2003)

January 7th, 2003, 04:58 PM
Quote: from Agglomeration on 6:55 pm on Jan. 6, 2003
It's not a bad building after all.

As a big fan of that building, I'm a little shocked.

January 7th, 2003, 10:29 PM
Forgive me for saying this, but I have a soft spot for the International style towers as I do for the Art-Deco towers. The Verizon building is a decorative and structurally strong building. It should have been built 25 floors taller though.

January 9th, 2003, 12:13 AM
Barclay-Vesey Building and 7 WTC (http://www.wirednewyork.com/wtc/7wtc/default.htm) on 19 August 2000.


January 9th, 2003, 04:32 AM
Looks like a sphynx.

TLOZ Link5
January 9th, 2003, 03:51 PM
I love how the base of the building is torqued like the plot, yet the tower itself is a perfect square that is parallel to Barclay and Vesey; however, the tower is the only element which looks torqued. *It's certainly an interesting optical illusion.

(Edited by TLOZ Link5 at 1:38 pm on Jan. 18, 2003)

January 18th, 2003, 09:30 AM

January 21st, 2003, 07:01 AM
Thanks people, very interesting and informative article and video. *I've always loved this building but was totally ignorant of the amazing infrastructure behind those magnificent Art Deco walls.

TLOZ Link5
January 21st, 2003, 06:16 PM
So long as we're talking about Ground Zero buildings, I read a few day ago in a New York Times mini-article that some developer is going to buy 90 West Street to convert it into apartments.

March 1st, 2004, 09:25 PM
October 30, 2003

Ceiling's Cleaning Grows Into a Tale of Re-Creation


At the Verizon Building in Lower Manhattan, repairs to the ceiling murals have been painstaking.

Slide Show: Restoring a Mural (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2003/10/29/nyregion/20031030_MURA_slideshow_1.html)

It's not quite the Sistine Chapel, but New York now has its own newly restored ceiling murals, in the lobby of the Verizon Building.

After two years of effort, a team of 30 conservators, technicians and artists is nearly finished refurbishing the building's gilt and gloriously polychromed 210-foot-long landmarked lobby ceiling, which suffered severe damage on Sept. 11, 2001.

The complex, labor-intensive restoration at the Verizon Building, at 140 West Street, has been similar in many respects to the restoration at the Vatican, entailing technical analysis, historical research, correction of previous overpainting and formidable efforts to salvage damaged plaster. But there is one considerable difference: the World Trade Center did not collapse next door to the Sistine Chapel.

"I'm sure that the Sistine Chapel paintings were dirty, but they didn't have to deal with the explosive force of 9/11, and the filth that came pouring into that poor lobby," said Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, which has been monitoring the work. "Verizon has made heroic efforts to restore these murals."

Verizon, still in negotiation with its insurers, declined to reveal the reconstruction bill, but preservationists estimate the cost at $2 million. The scaffolding will come down next month and, after more lobby reconstruction, the murals will be unveiled next year.

"At first, we thought we might be able to give the ceiling a thorough cleaning, then restore the paint, but we had no idea what we were dealing with," said Dominic P. Veltri, Verizon's manager for real estate design and construction. "We discovered many severe underlying problems."

On Sept. 11, 2001, the 32-story Verizon Building, constructed in 1926, was crushed by the north and south towers of the World Trade Center as well as 7 World Trade Center, which pancaked next door.

But even before 2001, the passage of three-fourths of a century had taken a toll on the lobby of the building, the former administrative headquarters of the New York Telephone Company.

The murals were faded, begrimed and stained. Flaking paint had been retouched in the 1980's, said Jeffrey Greene, president of EverGreene Painting Studios, to which Verizon entrusted the restoration, "but the overpainting was incompatible, the color match was out of the can, and they used acrylic house paint over the original oils."

Damage was rapidly accelerated by the trade-center collapses, when the dust that caked the murals was baked by intense heat from the fires. There was water damage from the 21 days it took to douse the raging blazes in building 7. Then for months, the lobby was open to the elements.

And so, restorers had to vacuum the images carefully, sponge them to remove dust, then wash them delicately with cotton swabs.

Technicians used hypodermic needles to inject acrylic resin and ethyl cellulose glue into crevices to reattach plaster and paint to the ceiling "square inch by square inch," said Gillian Randell, chief conservator of EverGreene. Separately, in the EverGreene studio in Manhattan, workers painted 509 linear feet of floral decorative panels, to replace the originals. Then the ceiling was gilt anew.

Not that anyone could confuse the 12-foot-by-11-foot panels of the Verizon mural with the work of Michelangelo, but the restorers did happen to discover the original 1926 signature of the artist — Hugo R. B. Newman — on one of the murals.

The 12 ceiling tableaux depict not the creation of man, as on the Sistine ceiling, but celebrate the history of human communication, offering everything from an Egyptian megaphone to West African drums. The artistic culmination, of course, is the great god of the telephone, as embodied by a painted classic "candlestick" receiver, cutting-edge in 1926.

Helen Rocos, a 53-year-old conservator working on a 20-foot-wide scaffolding, said that restorers were aware that "this is a very special job."

No, she hasn't been hectored by Pope Julius II, as Michelangelo was on his scaffolding, but her work has been applauded by hard-hat passers-by.

"The ceiling has a symbolic emotional meaning to all of us," she said, "because it's a visual reminder of what survived."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

March 2nd, 2004, 10:00 AM
It never looked this good.

March 2nd, 2004, 11:54 AM
It never looked this good.

That may be said for a lot of buildings downtown, as well. They HAD to clean up the buildings, which, for whatever reason, NYC doesn't always do all that well.

March 22nd, 2004, 05:03 PM
From the Washington St entrance.

March 22nd, 2004, 06:16 PM
Very elegant, without overdecoration. You were allowed in? Or is there just a stop point further down?

TLOZ Link5
March 22nd, 2004, 06:19 PM
One word:


March 24th, 2004, 08:49 AM
Very elegant, without overdecoration. You were allowed in? Or is there just a stop point further down?
It's from outside on Washington St, which is always closed except for a card-reader entrance. I thought about going around to West St and ask for entry, but I didn't want to start a big deal about the camera.

May 21st, 2005, 12:46 PM
They are still working on the crown, and a few small areas of brickwork remain, but the exterior is mostly complete.

It is now being powerwashed. The north and most of the west side is done.

http://img269.echo.cx/img269/9866/barclay107xs.th.jpg (http://img269.echo.cx/my.php?image=barclay107xs.jpg)

May 21st, 2005, 02:17 PM
If you are stading outside of Century 21, looking at say 7WTC, this building is to the left of it, right? I always wondered what the building was with the black on top of it.

May 21st, 2005, 02:20 PM
If you are stading outside of Century 21, looking at say 7WTC, this building is to the left of it, right? I always wondered what the building was with the black on top of it.

You are correct sir..

June 4th, 2005, 03:52 PM
I used to work there.
I would tell people I worked AT "West Street" or the Telephone Building,and most everyone knew where I meant.I had a view from the 24th floor,South and East,and I could look down on the WTC construction as it happened.
When I started work there,the big foundation excavations-the sacred footprints of the twins-were just filling in;when I left,the skin and skeletons of both towers blocked the Southern expanse of sky and water,shutting off the priceless,dead-on views of the Bay and the Statue of Liberty.
I always liked that building,and although it's mass was intimidating,it's decorative public spaces and it's winsome Arcade lent it a friendly scale.It was,and still is,fabulous Deco,the best--and a great bookend for the neo-Gothic Woolworth Building a few blocks away.
Hopefully,it will own it's corner forever.
I was totally shocked that it recieved so LITTLE damage on 9/11.Hundreds of floors of megastructure were collapsing all around,and by an incredible twist of fate and steel,it survived mostly intact!
Last year I tried to gain entry to the lobby,but Security prevented me from doing anything other than be assured that the ornate lobby was restored,actually looking much brighter than I remember it.
No photos,no lingering,I was asked to leave,nostalgia be damned.

June 6th, 2005, 10:19 AM
Verizon is locating there executives from 1095 Ave of America's to this building and making this there corporate headquaters, when all is said and done about 1,500 people will be in the building. Other verizon workers that are at 1095 now will be relocated to two other office buildings in Manhattan as well as to the NJ facility they are working on

December 13th, 2005, 04:23 PM
December 9, 2005

Verizon Unpacks at Its Restored Ancestral Headquarters


Verizon, the corporate great-grandchild of the New York Telephone Company, came back yesterday to its ancestral home in Lower Manhattan - an Art Deco landmark that was badly battered on 9/11 - after a 33-year absence.

The company's return of its headquarters to 140 West Street, opposite ground zero, is one step in the assemblage of an extraordinary crossroads, if all the plans materialize. By 2010, the headquarters of American Express, Goldman Sachs and Verizon are each to occupy a corner of West and Vesey Streets, with the Freedom Tower on the fourth.

The gradual transfer of Verizon's headquarters from 1095 Avenue of the Americas, opposite Bryant Park, began in July and will continue until the middle of next year. But if the head of the table is where MacGregor sits, the true switch-over will occur on Dec. 19 when Ivan Seidenberg, the chairman and chief executive, moves his office downtown.

Verizon's board will meet for the first time next month in the restored 29th-floor boardroom at 140 West Street, which was designed by Ralph Walker and completed in 1927 as the telephone company headquarters. In reprising this role, the building will house 1,500 employees.

New York Telephone moved to the Avenue of the Americas in 1972, but held on to the West Street building. In the intervening years, as Nynex and Bell Atlantic, its headquarters shifted several times but eventually returned to the 41-story Midtown tower, which it sold in March for $505 million to Equity Office Properties Trust. Verizon will continue to occupy seven floors there.

A ceremonial transfer occurred yesterday when Gov. George E. Pataki, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver helped splice a 12-strand fiber-optic cable - in lieu of cutting a ribbon - under the ornate ceiling murals of the barrel-vaulted lobby. The lobby, an official interior landmark, was meticulously restored as part of the $322 million rehabilitation of the 32-story structure, but it is closed to the public.

Verizon is vigilant in guarding the lobby in part because there is so much telecommunications equipment in the building and also to ensure its employees' peace of mind, said Lark-Marie Antσn, a company spokeswoman. Many of its workers witnessed the 2001 attack firsthand. But she said the company was trying to find a way to allow the public to view the restoration.

Insurance payments covered some of the renovation cost, said Lee Brathwaite, Verizon's vice president of corporate real estate. No economic development incentives were sought, he said. The only government benefits Verizon received were federal historic rehabilitation tax credits worth about $10 million over three years.

Acknowledging security concerns at such a high-profile crossroads, Mr. Brathwaite said Verizon was "working to enhance the safety of the building." That may include the installation of protective sidewalk stanchions called bollards.

"We have not heard any concerns expressed for safety on the part of our employees," Mr. Brathwaite said. "As a matter of fact, people are really looking forward to coming back to this building because many of them remember what it was like when - like myself - we were starting in the company."

That includes Mr. Seidenberg, who recalled a visual acuity exam given to him as an aspiring technician.

"Almost 40 years ago to the day," he told officials and executives gathered in the lobby of 140 West Street, "down that corridor on the left was the employment office for then New York Telephone. I came in and applied for a job. I passed the test, failed the color test and they sent me to the Bronx.

"But I'm back."

* Copyright 2005The New York Times Company

http://img500.imageshack.us/img500/4187/verizon01c5yh.th.jpg (http://img500.imageshack.us/my.php?image=verizon01c5yh.jpg) http://img500.imageshack.us/img500/2149/verizon02c5id.th.jpg (http://img500.imageshack.us/my.php?image=verizon02c5id.jpg)

http://img500.imageshack.us/img500/9246/verizon03c4at.th.jpg (http://img500.imageshack.us/my.php?image=verizon03c4at.jpg) http://img500.imageshack.us/img500/9268/verizon04c4tg.th.jpg (http://img500.imageshack.us/my.php?image=verizon04c4tg.jpg)

http://img500.imageshack.us/img500/589/verizon05c2ai.th.jpg (http://img500.imageshack.us/my.php?image=verizon05c2ai.jpg) http://img500.imageshack.us/img500/6924/verizon06c0gj.th.jpg (http://img500.imageshack.us/my.php?image=verizon06c0gj.jpg) http://img500.imageshack.us/img500/289/verizon07c5qh.th.jpg (http://img500.imageshack.us/my.php?image=verizon07c5qh.jpg)

December 13th, 2005, 04:48 PM
Thank you Zippy for such wonderful photos to accompany your post. If we would permit our eyes to follow the vivid architectural details that are so abundant in New York, it would be difficult to travel more than a few blocks in the daylight. These photos call us to be seduced wherever we walk. Thank you.

December 15th, 2005, 11:25 PM
Hats off to Verizon for making this move to such a classy building. Great architecture is timeless. Fantastic!!

December 15th, 2005, 11:32 PM
I was told by a longtime BPC resident that there used to be stores in the arcade of the Verizon building photographed above. Maybe some day, after the FT and 7WTC and 200 Greenwich are built and filled up, the pedestrian traffic will be enough to allow for that again.

December 16th, 2005, 12:36 PM
^....along with Goldman Sachs across the street and everything else already nearby.

That would be great - it's a major crossroads with an exquisite arcade that was meant to be seen and used.

December 16th, 2005, 02:44 PM
Agreed, that arcade is wonderful to walk through - but they'd have to move that horrible pedstrian bridge.

December 16th, 2005, 03:19 PM
Putting West St underground wasn't a fundamentally bad idea, it just needed to go underground from far further north than Pataki wanted it. It should have gone underground north of Chambers St, which would then permit all of Battery Park City to be closely knit into the rest of downtown.

Since that appears to be no longer an option, perhaps there should be a pedestrian tunnel under West St at Vesey. Alternatively, once Freedom Tower is built, couldn't there once again be a pedestrian bridge across West St linking the FT to the WFC, just the same as the old bridge from the WTC to the WFC?

Agreed, that arcade is wonderful to walk through - but they'd have to move that horrible pedstrian bridge.

December 16th, 2005, 03:32 PM
...perhaps there should be a pedestrian tunnel under West St at Vesey.
It most likely would be the most expensive tunnel per foot ever built, as it would seemingly require a "bathtub" type enclosure (due to the nearby Hudson River).

Alternatively, once Freedom Tower is built, couldn't there once again be a pedestrian bridge across West St linking the FT to the WFC, just the same as the old bridge from the WTC to the WFC?
Libeskind's very first Master Plan proposal included a semi-circular bridge that crossed over the West Side Hiway and apparently linked the WFC to the WTC site (at the northern and southern edges). That bridge quickly disappeared from future renderings.


December 16th, 2005, 03:36 PM
The present bridge is temporary. It will probably come down some time after the FT is completed, when that crosswalk can be used.

It may be replaced by a permanent bridge, or just eliminated.

I doubt there would be an underpass, since one is planned at the Wintergarden (unless the memorial-people sue to have it stopped).

December 16th, 2005, 04:00 PM
I was told by a longtime BPC resident that there used to be stores in the arcade of the Verizon building photographed above. There was retail at the building, but I think it pre-dated BPC. Vesey St was a classic example of streetscape decline, which began when the Washington Market, across the street, closed in the 1950s. Although the WTC plaza is often cited for its poor design, I think that the northwestern corner of the site was worse. Those 30 ft blank marble walls effectively killed Vesey St.

The arcade became a haven for homeless people, and in the 1980s, NY Telephone permanently boarded up the glass.

If retail returns here, I think there will have to be alterations to allow outside entry; I don't think Verizon would be too happy about shoppers in the lobby.

There are storefronts on the north side of the building that already have outside entrances.

December 18th, 2005, 01:38 PM
Seconded. I walked Vesey St every week for a couple years before 9/11 and it was a featureless canyon -- made worse by the fact that the old 7WTC was very street-unfriendly as well.

It would be fantastic to bring the Verizon building arcade back to life. But that's years away, if ever, unfortunately.

There was retail at the building, but I think it pre-dated BPC. Vesey St was a classic example of streetscape decline, which began when the Washington Market, across the street, closed in the 1950s. Although the WTC plaza is often cited for its poor design, I think that the northwestern corner of the site was worse. Those 30 ft blank marble walls effectively killed Vesey St.

December 11th, 2008, 11:38 AM

A Deco Skyscraper Endures as Its Surroundings Are Transformed

By DAVID W. DUNLAP (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/d/david_w_dunlap/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: December 10, 2008

The former New York Telephone Company Building at 140 West Street has always looked like something produced by the force of nature: a Monument Valley mesa rising, however improbably, over the Hudson River.

Then and now PHOTOGRAPHS (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/11/nyregion/11thennow.html?_r=1&ref=nyregion)

“Its massing is mountainlike — sumptuous masses piled on top of each other for an overall effect of immense repose,” Paul Goldberger (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/paul_goldberger/index.html?inline=nyt-per) wrote in his 1978 architectural guidebook, “The City Observed: New York,” for which the first photograph was taken.

It is fitting that something so elemental has survived the transformation around it, including the rise, fall and rebirth of the World Trade Center.
So much has changed in this riverfront scene over 30 years. In the foreground in 1978 was the elevated West Side Highway viaduct, then in the process of being dismantled.

Along the elevated highway’s route, in the Washington Street Urban Renewal Area, came several giant buildings, two of which are in the 2008 picture, to the left of 140 West Street.

In the distance is 388-90 Greenwich Street (http://slgreen.com/properties/view/388-390-greenwich-street/), now home to several Citigroup divisions. It was formerly home to the Travelers Group, before that to Shearson Lehman Hutton, and before that to Shearson/American Express.

A bit closer in, with the strongly patterned facade, is 101 Warren Street, also known as 270 Greenwich Street (http://www.ejmequities.com/101warren.html), a new residential and retail complex with a Whole Foods Market. (Whole Foods (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/company/index.php) had not even been founded when the first photo was taken.)

Then comes 140 West Street itself, designed by Ralph Walker and completed in 1927 for New York Telephone, the corporate ancestor of Nynex, Bell Atlantic and Verizon. The building was designated an official city landmark in 1991. Though it survived the inferno in 2001, it had to be extensively rehabilitated. It has been Verizon’s headquarters (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/09/nyregion/09rebuild.html/) since 2005.

To the right of 140 West Street in 1978 was open sky. That space was later filled with the first 7 World Trade Center, which burned and collapsed on 9/11. In its place, and visible in the 2008 photo, is the new 7 World Trade Center (http://www.silversteinproperties.com/properties/7-world-trade-center).

The low, dark, steel and glass structure in the 1978 view was 6 World Trade Center, the United States Custom House. The blank white wall at its base was, in essence, the pedestal from which the trade center rose along West Street — an unforgiving and uninviting streetscape.

The cranes in the contemporary view are building 1 World Trade Center (http://www.panynj.gov/wtcprogress/freedom_tower.html), also known as the Freedom Tower. By this time next year, 140 West Street will have been overshadowed. But if history is any guide, it will never be overpowered.


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

December 11th, 2008, 04:05 PM
I love this building (although the somewhat-new air coolers up top should have been better disguised).

From earlier this week ...


December 11th, 2008, 05:50 PM
I love this building (although the somewhat-new air coolers up top should have been better disguised).

From earlier this week ...


Me too.

From 2005


December 13th, 2008, 01:58 AM
I just took another look at one of the videos originally posted and I was very surprised to hear that Verizon rhymes with horizon. I didn't notice back in 2003 and therefore had no idea.

IMO, though, I think it sounds better rhyming with barbizon (or possibly amazon), and is easier to say.

But then again, I also didn't know before today about the derivation (http://investor.verizon.com/profile/history/) of the name: from the latin word veritas and from horizon.

Well, I've learned something (trivial?) today, including this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portmanteau).

The Verizon Building is my favourite (relatively) low-rise Art Deco building in New York.

December 13th, 2008, 11:29 AM
Does anyone have any good pics or links to webpages that show the repair/reconstruction of 140 West Street and the WFC?

December 10th, 2012, 06:07 AM
Looks even better with that glitzy, glassy background.



September 14th, 2013, 01:34 AM
Storm-soaked Verizon decamps from downtown

The communications giant will relocate its headquarters to 1095 Sixth Ave. from 140 West St. The company also announced the $274 million sale of the top 21 stories of its downtown tower for residential conversion.

By Daniel Geiger

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/09/12/west_street_verizon_building_will_go_partially_con do.php

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CN/20130912/REAL_ESTATE/130919953/AR/0/1095-Sixth-Avenue-New-York-NY.jpg&q=80&MaxW=204&maxh=360 (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CN/20130912/REAL_ESTATE/130919953/AR/0/1095-Sixth-Avenue-New-York-NY.jpg?q=100)
Verizon is moving its headquarters to 1095 Sixth Ave. Photo: CoStar Group Inc.
(click to enlarge)

Downtown stalwart Verizon Communications Inc. is leaving its headquarters at 140 West St., the property built 87 years ago to house its predecessor New York Telephone, and moving up to 1095 Sixth Ave., across from Bryant Park. On Wednesday, the communications giant announced that it had sold the upper portion of the 31-story, 1.8 million-square-foot downtown building for $274 million. It will retain 10 floors at the base of the property, where some 600 employees will work.Magnum Real Estate Group bought the top 21 stories. Investor Ben Shaoul, president of Magnum, plans to convert those floors to residential condominiums.

The sale will require Verizon to relocate about 1,100 employees, most of whom are customer-service representatives, to another property it owns at 395 Flatbush Ave., in Brooklyn. Crain's first reported (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20130414/ECONOMY/304149969) that the communications giant was planning to move large numbers of staffers from its West Street home, across Vesey Street from the World Trade Center back in April.

Verizon's sale of a partial interest in the building is in line with other property sales it has made in recent years, in which it has downsized facilities and raked in millions of dollars from selling off the excess real estate. The company, for instance, sold off a large portion of 375 Pearl St. in 2011 for $120 million. In that deal, it retained just three floors in that 1.1 million-square-foot property, where it condensed telecom operations and equipment that used to take up nearly the entire tower. It also sold off the bulk of 1095 Sixth Ave., the company's new headquarters property, where it retained seven floors in a condo ownership interest. Verizon stationed its headquarters in that building before selling it off in 2005.

"We are pleased to continue to move forward with the conversion of our building on West Street from a traditional telecommunications hub to a multipurpose building that will contribute meaningfully to the city's long-term vision for a vibrant World Trade Center neighborhood," said John Vazquez, Verizon senior vice president of global real estate. "We believe that with our co-owners, Magnum Real Estate Group, we will stand out in what already has become a desirable tourist and residential center for New York City."

The building's lobby, with its vaulted ceiling and marble-clad walls, is a designated landmark. The property sustained significant damage in the terrorist attacks 12 years ago. More recently, 140 West St. was deluged with water during Superstorm Sandy. The damage, including flooded basement floors and scrambled communications equipment, required tens of millions of dollars of repairs.


March 15th, 2014, 12:50 AM
Ismael Leyva to handle architecture on 140 West Street conversion project

By Sean MacKay

In September, Crain’s reported (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20130912/REAL_ESTATE/130919953) that Ben Shaoul’s Magnum Real Estate purchased the top 21 floors of Verizon’s Tribeca headquarters at 140 West Street (http://www.buzzbuzzhome.com/140-west-street).

The plans to convert the top 21 floors into residential condos hit a snag when a permit (http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/JobsQueryByNumberServlet?requestid=12&passjobnumber=121830439&passdocnumber=01) filed in November was disapproved by the city. Architect Ismael Leyva’s firm is listed as the applicant of record in the permit.

While we’ve yet to see an approved permit, we know the team is pushing forward with the conversion. Luxury Loft, a team of Elliman agents, posted an old photo (http://instagram.com/p/lgB8XMuFef/) of 140 West Street to its Instagram yesterday. The photo highlights some of Ralph Walker’s feted architectural work on the Verizon Building.

Grade (http://gradenyc.com/buildings/140-west-street/) has also been tapped to handle interior design for 140 West’s amenity spaces and model units. The project appears on Grade’s site and the firm was included as a hashtag in the Luxury Loft Instagram post.

A write-up on Grade’s site says the amenity spaces will include a lobby, pool, sauna and comprehensive fitness center.

Completed in 1927, the Verizon Building has been called “one of the most significant structures in skyscraper design.” The building was severely damaged in the September 11th attacks. Restoration efforts took three years and cost $1.4 billion.


October 19th, 2014, 05:48 PM
Thirteen just did a short program on Ralph Walker:


October 19th, 2014, 06:57 PM
Ismael Leyva :eek:

October 20th, 2014, 07:15 AM
Thirteen just did a short program on Ralph Walker:


Very interesting! Thanks for posting, oquatanginwan :).

Equally interesting book:



April 28th, 2015, 05:04 AM
Rather underwhelming compared to the magnificent exterior. With all the new wall-to-wall windowed buildings uptown, I wonder if this will be a shoe-in.

Ben Shaoul's Verizon Tower Conversion Starts at $3.2 Million

April 27, 2015, by Jeremiah Budin

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/553e34ddf92ea1097800f23e/138359519.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/553e34def92ea1097800f241/138359519.jpg)

Name: Ralph Walker Tribeca (http://ralphwalkertribeca.com/)
Address: 100 Barclay Street (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/100-barclay-street)
Developer: Magnum Real Estate Group & CIM Group
Architect: Ismael Leyva Architects
Interiors: Champalimaud & GRADE
Prices: $3.2 million to $11.5 million
Size: 31 stories, 161 units
Sales & Marketing: Douglas Elliman Development Marketing

100 Barclay Street represents something of a departure for developer Ben Shaoul, primarily known for bullying senior citizens out of their rent-stabilized homes in the East Village (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/ben-shaoul), in that it's quite a bit more fancy and expensive than his other projects, and he hasn't had to Sledgehammer anyone in the process. Units in the converted Verizon Tower, designed in the late 1920s by famed architect Ralph Walker and now renamed Ralph Walker Tribeca, just hit the market with prices ranging from $3.2 million for a two-bedroom to $11.5 million for a four-bedroom. So far, 15 of the building's 161 units have been listed (http://streeteasy.com/building/ralph-walker-tribeca).

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/553e34dff92ea1097800f248/138359584.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/553e34e0f92ea1097800f24b/138359584.jpg) http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/553e34e1f92ea1097800f252/138359648.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/553e34e2f92ea1097800f255/138359648.jpg) http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/553e34e3f92ea1097800f25c/138359689.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/553e34e4f92ea1097800f25f/138359689.jpg)

(see Curbed article for floorplans)

Listings: 100 Barclay Street (http://streeteasy.com/building/ralph-walker-tribeca) [Streeteasy]
Ralph Walker Tribeca (http://ralphwalkertribeca.com/) [official]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/04/27/ben_shaouls_verizon_tower_conversion_starts_at_32_ million.php

April 28th, 2015, 03:25 PM
The interiors are built out perfectly. The large - but not floor to ceiling - windows are very nicely proportioned for creating a strong sense of shelter/enclosure away from the mean streets of the urban environment: yet large enough for ample natural light and views. Also, I like basic flat walls ceilings without a lot of architectural adornments: such as, wainscoting. Tray ceilings, crown moulding and built-in wall units. This type of interior space makes for a good canvas on which to apply paint colors, art work, fine furnishings and window treatments.

I hope we get an opportunity to see some of the occupied interiors once the new owners start to move in the apartments.