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Thread: 90 West Street - by Cass Gilbert - Post 9/11 Restoration

  1. #31

    Default Renovation pics

    Here are a few photos of the renovation by a construction worker on site.

  2. #32

    Default old stone

    What I know the old stuff and the new stuff are being put in panels, to be reinstalled on the building.

    They had to take it all down because the steel that carried the weight is twisted in places, needs to be replaced. When they replace the steel, they will put the stone back up, either the original, or replacements. They documented and numbered every piece.

    (I am the wife of the guy who took the photos -- saw this URL when checking the stats on the site.)

  3. #33

    Default Oct 9th ,2004 PICS! 90 West back shots

  4. #34


    this building is right beside of the Desuste Bank building...right?

  5. #35


    Yes in back of 90 west is 130 liberty.

  6. #36


    Im confused, ops: By the looks of the pics, this isnt the building right beside of the Deustche bank building, becuase the building im thinking of is ACROSS from 7 WTC... :? anyone got a map?

  7. #37


    You are looking north on Washington St. You can clearly see Verizon and 7 WTC across the WTC site. The Deutsche Bank building is off the photo on the right. 90 West St (the building we are talking about in this thread) is the one on the left. The "building that is right next to DB" is the one with the water tank on top.

  8. #38

    Default 90 West Street - Restoration Progress

    The building is well on it's way to a residential conversion ... to my dismay, they've allowed teh plumber to talk them into low end plumbing fixtures throughout. With this kind of thinking, I'd guess the rest of the interiors are going to be low end as well. ..

    Having said that, I am glad that it is at least being renovated!!!

  9. #39


    Damaged landmark building readies to reopen as apartments

    By Ronda Kaysen

    The Beaux-Arts building at 90 West St., battered and wounded on Sept. 11th, will soon be restored to its turn-of-the-century glory, with a modern twist.

    The 23-story office building, dubbed the “miracle of 9/11,” took quite a beating when flaming debris scalded its north façade, pelting its sloping mansard roof with fragments of metal, glass and concrete catapulting from the burning World Trade Center. Fires raged inside, uncontrolled for days, devouring five floors and melting the decorative, copper balustrade rooftop.

    This spring, after enduring a meticulous renovation, 90 West St. will re-open as a state-of-the-art rental apartment building with a 1907 façade restored to its original splendor and its interior gutted and renovated to suit 21st century tastes.

    “This is one of the more important historic buildings in the city of New York,” said architect Peter Levenson, a principal of the Kibel Companies and one of the building’s owners. “The effort that was undertaken to restore this for historic reasons was fairly monumental.”

    Brack Capital Real Estate bought the Cass Gilbert-designed building for $12.25 million in early 2003 and has undertaken the $145 million restoration project along with Kibel Companies and hoteliers Richard Born and Ira Drukier, the developers of the Mercer Hotel and the Robert De Niro hotel project on Greenwich St.

    Financed in part with a $106.5 million infusion of Liberty Bonds and the 421g Program, a tax exemption and abatement program for rental conversions, the renovation is painstaking and unprecedented. Kibel had some experience with historic renovations before 90 West St.— the company renovated the Sloane House on W. 34th St. and converted the Underwriters Insurance Company building at 85 John St. to an upscale residential property in 1999 — but nothing could have prepared them for 90 West St. “We’ve [restored] two historic buildings, but nothing to this scale,” Levenson said in a telephone interview. “I don’t think anybody has.”

    Kibel and the exterior construction team, Seaboard Weatherproofing Company, are rebuilding the granite base on the north façade, the largest undertaking of its kind in the world right now. The granite must be hand carved, and with granite carvers in short supply these days, Levenson and his team had to reach out to carvers from across the globe. “There are not a lot of carvers in the world that can carve granite in such intricate patterns and to such a complicated degree,” he said.

    With carvers at work in Italy, Canada and New England, the renovation process has required precise timing. “The biggest challenges were to coordinate the very long lead time with the interior renovation and decorations… Both projects have their own unique sets of timetables and lead times and coordination,” he said. “To put it all together and to have it all finish at the same time is a very complicated task.”

    Most of the building’s exterior is made of decorative terra cotta, a material not easily obtained in the United States. Seven thousand of the rare stones had to be replaced and thousands more needed to be re-glazed. According to Levenson, there are only two major manufacturers in the country capable of constructing the custom-made pieces.

    When the building opens its doors this spring, 360,000 sq. ft. of office will have been transformed into a 410-unit apartment building with 22 residential floors, a gym, lounge, garage, recreation room and garden courtyard. “Fortunately this building was an ideal candidate for a conversion because of the small footprint,” said Levenson.

    Turn of the century buildings, in a time long before central air conditioning, relied heavily on cross-ventilation and windows to keep their office buildings temperate. The result, said Levenson, is ideal for a 21st century apartment building. “It’s a very adaptable building with a huge courtyard in the back. It really works better as a residential building than an office building,” he said.

    The lobby will be the only interior reminder of the building’s 100-year history. When the contractors removed a layer of sheetrock from a mid-century renovation, they discovered a long-lost lobby design. Beneath the walls were decorative vaults, terra cotta pilasters, arches and sculptures, features considered out of fashion when the building was renovated half a century ago. “It was just incredible what we found behind the sheetrock walls,” said Levenson.

    The units, a combination of studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, have yet to be priced, said Levenson, although the New York Sun priced them at $1,595 for a studio to $3,695 for a three-bedroom.

    Levenson said he did not favor the recent decision to build a three-story W.T.C. entrance ramp on Liberty St., which will obstruct the building’s sightline but is intended to improve the area immediately surrounding the proposed W.T.C. memorial. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s decided to move the entrance ramp to the south side of Liberty St., allowing for two-way traffic, but requiring a 25-foot hill beneath the proposed Liberty Park. Levenson said he would have preferred a one-way Liberty St. — one of the ramp alternatives — but at this point there is little he can do. “Not everyone is going to get everything that they want,” he said. The W.T.C. redevelopment “is an enormous project and it is what it is.”

    Peter Levenson will speak about the 90 West St. reconstruction on Mon., Jan 24 at the Center for Architecture, 526 LaGuardia Place at Bleecker St. $10 for A.I.A. members, $15 for non-members. Call 212-358-6111 for tickets.

    Downtown Express is published by
    Community Media LLC.


  10. #40


    Edwin Booth related to John Wilkes Booth?

  11. #41

  12. #42


    Southwest corner. Roof recladding is complete, and scaffolding is coming down.
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  13. #43


    February 28, 2005

    Faces at Least a City Can Love


    New gargoyles for 90 West Street, a 1907 building heavily damaged on Sept. 11, depict some of the principal owners and builders.

    Peter Levenson, one of the building's owners, and his gargoyle likeness.

    t is the season, at last, for the gargoyles to return to 90 West Street.

    Many assumed they went missing when its towering neighbor, 2 World Trade Center, collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001. Though wounded, 90 West Street was celebrated as a miracle building, thanks to its triumph of survival. But after the fires cooled and the smoke lifted, an architectural inventory of the 1907 neo-Gothic building showed that the landmark had lost its gargoyles.

    The truth is, some of the gargoyles may have succumbed long before: victims of age, neglect and entropy. No one knows for sure. But now it can definitively be said that as part of the $148 million rebirth of the former office building created by the architect Cass Gilbert, all those owls, goat heads, griffins, baby dragons, monkey heads, bats and other assorted creatures are coming back.

    Nearing completion are a new $4 million, 45-foot mansard roof, a $5 million, three-story granite base, and $11 million worth of new terra cotta tile and decorations.

    Indeed, nearly 7,000 new pieces of exterior terra cotta had to be recreated for the restoration, "since so much of the terra cotta at 90 West Street was destroyed in the attack," said Gretchen E. Krouse, a vice president at Boston Valley Terra Cotta in Orchard Park, N.Y., south of Buffalo.

    The clay was shaped by computer-assisted design, but many of the new terra cotta pieces were pressed into molds, and then glazed, by hand, just as they had been in the early 1900's. "You can see workers' handprints inside, just as you could on the originals," Ms. Krouse said.

    Many of the more than 100 replacement gargoyles were also made at the Boston Valley factory. And in an homage to the playful exuberance of Gilbert's 1913 Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway, the gargoyle reproductions are being augmented with seven contemporary faces.

    The appropriately grotesque new caricatures include Peter Levenson, a principal of the Kibel Companies and one of the building's owners; Henry Kibel, another of the owners; Michael Y. Ahearn, president of Seaboard Weatherproofing Co., the exterior contractor; and Jeff Smith, Seaboard's on-site project manager.

    "It's as if I've been living here for a year," Mr. Smith said, "so I might as well stay here as a gargoyle."

    He noted that 90 West Street was a prelude to Gilbert's Woolworth Building, where the lobby sculptures famously depict F. W. Woolworth adding up nickels and Gilbert himself grasping a rendering of the building, and even celebrate the skyscraper's structural engineer, Gunvald Aus.

    "Our hope," said Mr. Levenson, who is spearheading the construction for the owners, "is that Cass Gilbert would understand."

    Helen Curry, one of Mr. Gilbert's great-grandchildren, who speaks for the architect's legacy before preservation groups, said "what fun," when apprised of the new gargoyles, adding: "I love it."

    To Ms. Curry, the 90 West Street restoration is important nationally, because many of the classic Gilbert buildings, like the 1895 Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, "are in need of extensive repairs."

    For more than two years, 90 West Street was shrouded in a 23-story construction veil and braced in scaffolding, a grim reminder to both passers-by and construction workers of the flaming steel debris that rained on its north facade, made great gaps in its exterior, and turned its interior into a hell of fire.

    A year ago, 90 West Street's developers were granted $106.5 million in tax-exempt Liberty Bonds and other financing from the city's Housing Development Corporation for the project. The rest will come from the reconstruction partners, which include Brack Capital Real Estate, the Kibel Companies and the hoteliers Richard Born and Ira Drukier. Stone by stone and tile by tile, the skyscraper is approaching its future as a rental building with 410 apartments. A turning point in the reconstruction was reached on a recent morning, as a rigging crew toiled to install a 10-ton capstone assembly atop the arch that, 35 feet above Cedar Street, guards the north entrance of 90 West Street.

    "This is a landmark day for us," said Mr. Levenson as he stood at the muddy spot where a tower once fell, carefully observing the assembly. One wrong move could have shattered $500,000 worth of crafted stone and steel.

    Standing next to him was Mr. Ahearn. He watched as the capstone was fastidiously dangled into its exact spot, to a tolerance that amounted to an eighth of an inch. "It's as if the heart has started beating again," Mr. Ahearn said, suddenly smiling.

    The arch is an emblem of the entire effort. As much as possible of the original heavy "cubic stone" was used to recreate the arch, but it, and many of the original building's damaged granite blocks, have been replaced by new, lightweight stone facades. In these stone "sandwiches," thick granite veneers that have been cut with computer guidance are attached to hand-welded steel armatures that precisely reproduce the shape of the original facade. From the outside, Mr. Levenson said, the panels are indistinguishable from the originals.

    The depleted quarries that supplied the original granite could not furnish enough stone of the right color to permit complete replacements of the originals, said Christopher J. McConnell, president of Continental Marble Inc., who is the project's stone wrangler. There was, however, enough quarry granite to carve stone veneers.

    Initially, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, which declared the building's exterior a landmark in 1998 and has closely monitored the construction, had questions about the appropriateness of panelization. "But you have to be realistic, and do the best you can," said Robert B. Tierney, the preservation commission's president, "and this is more than that. It's an excellent restoration."

    The reconstructors have constantly melded the old with the technologically forward. While the blasted copper sheets of the skyscraper's sloping mansard roof have been replaced with new copper, the old decorative metal balustrade at the top, which melted and twisted, is being replaced with 400 linear feet of fiberglass pieces approved by the landmarks commission.

    The work at 90 West Street has been not only a task of restoration, but also of memorialization. Some of the blasted carved stone window heads are being left as they are, to bear witness to the building's grievous wounds. Even a memento from the earliest disaster days is still visible, on the west side of the north facade: the ghostly, grayish remnant of the "90 WEST" tag that had been spray-painted in orange on the building facade by the rescue workers during the early chaos at ground zero.

    Now, incongruously, a suite of model apartments has taken root on the sixth floor. It is an oasis in the construction hurly-burly, with its nine-foot-high loft-style ceilings and trendy bamboo-plank floors. The builders' rental office will open in March, and, as early as May, tenants could occupy apartments that range from $1,550 a month for small studios to $5,500 for three-bedroom apartments.

    But to Ms. Curry, Mr. Gilbert's descendant, "the most important thing about all of this is that 90 West Street is still standing."

    "That's because," she added, "he designed this to endure."

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  14. #44


    This is a great building! I am glad it was able to be restored!!

  15. #45


    So how much are they charging for 3-bedroom apartments? $3700 or $5500?
    Could be that the added publicity allowed them to up the rents on the high-end units.

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