Apart from the scaffolding and netting, what a lovely street corner assemblage. The building right on the corner wasn't too badly rehabbed (at least it's still standing).
Haunted Old Soho Factory Getting Rid of Its Ghosts
January 29, 2010, by Pete
(click to enlarge)
Before Soho became the cast-iron capital, it was home to little lots of brickage like the one still standing at 497 Broome Street near West Broadway. For years this former factory has been standing derelict, the ground floor boarded up and the bricks above beginning to crumble. Now, according to a plan found on the website of Studio China Architecture + Design, its four floors are being redone and "the revitalized building will house modern office, store front and an artist's work and living space." One new feature will be a light well at the center, running the full height of the building, tying together the various interior spaces. No doubt,
Back in 1885 there was a fire in the top-floor factory where ear muffs were made; a young lass found herself aflame, causing a panicked crush of girls rushing for the stairs. And in 1893 the proprietor of a mask and toy factory in the building, not so joyful amidst all that fun, poisoned himself by ingesting a dose of paris green. Now, to bring this one back to life, renovation has begun. The old fire escape above Broome has recently come down, and the building's face is covered in netting, hiding the broken window frames and crumbling brownstone sills. The current owner, 497 Broome Street Realty, came upon the place following a tax lien sale in August 2009. Principal Eddie Hanna sure is pleased with the plan for the future at 497 Broome, which should send those ghosts of the past packing.
497 Broome Street [Studio China]
Fortunately that whole bunch are protected, as that SE corner of Broome / West Broadway sits within the LPC protected Soho Cast-Iron Historic District.
Blocks to the west across West Broadway (hopefully) will be equally protected once LPC designates the Soho expansion, which has been debated, calendered and heard -- but not yet voted upon by the Commission.
Hudson Square now really, I suppose.
Little Red's High School Expands Into Historic Townhouse
February 22, 2010, by Pete
42 Charlton Street gets the finishing touches.
(click to enlarge)
The Little Red School House, progressively educating NYC's youngsters since 1921, is finishing up the first phase of the expansion of its Elisabeth Irwin High School on Charlton Street down in Soho. The plan from ABA Studio connects the original gothic-inspired five-story school building to a three-story brick townhouse next door at 42 Charlton Street, and adds room for another 60 inquisitive young minds. From the street it all looks perfectly historical, and that's how it had to be since the school sits within the little Charlton-King-Vandam Historic District. But behind the landmarked facades there's all sorts of new stuff, including a renovated theater auditorium, a new performing arts center and a batch of state-of-the-art classrooms overlooking an enclosed courtyard. The rear of the townhouse has an abstracted light-reflecting screen, enclosing exterior passageways and keeping things cool inside. That's "cool" in the temperature sense, of course. We all know these kids are hopeless dweebs.
Building for Action - Charlton Street Renovation [lrei.org]
Little Red Elisabeth Irwin High School [ABA Studio]
The LREI claims on their website that they're in Greenwich Village. It's in an in-between zone.
Solving a Mystery Covered by 137 Years of Paint
By JAMES BARRON
32 and 34 Greene Street in Soho, once long ago, and now once again, painted creamy off-white.
They went with a shade close to the “second generation” color — not the original brown from 1873 and not the blue from the 1970s, but a creamy off-white.
The team that renovated the cast-iron loft buildings at 32 and 34 Greene Street wanted to know what color the buildings had been when they were new. There were no photographs from that long ago. The team found out by analyzing tiny paint samples.
The architect on the project, Daniel J. Allen, scraped thumbnail-size chunks off the front walls and sent them to be looked at by a paint expert in Virginia, Susan L. Buck. She focused her microscope and trained ultraviolet light on the samples and found that the two buildings had 13 “generations,” or layers, of paint.
The images of the samples look like a too-close glimpse of deli sandwich — turkey with tomatoes, no lettuce. Near the top were two orange layers, probably primers, Mr. Allen said. The building’s blue period, it turns out, followed greens, grays and tans. The layers were not dated, so the renovation team could only guess at how long the buildings wore each color before they were painted over with a new look.
The buildings, Mr. Allen said, are “of a perfect moment.”
“They are post-Civil War boom buildings,” he said, completed when New York had become a major port. “It’s growing fast, there has to be a place to put all this stuff,” he said. “SoHo becomes the dry goods district, which is everything: clocks, machinery, printing presses, whatever is coming off the boat. You need these substantial buildings to put them in.”
And SoHo needed them fast. “Each was completed in only six and a half to seven months, which is one of the reasons cast iron was so popular: you could create this kind of mass-produced grandeur almost overnight,” Mr. Allen said. “The construction was so cookie cutter, so easy to do — assemble the walls, drop in the framing. It allowed people to get buildings with great detail and impress the hell out of their neighbors.”
By December 2006, when Veronica Mainetti, the head of the Rome-based Sorgente Group, a firm that concentrates on historic properties, heard about the buildings, they were in “terrible shape,” she said. The facade was flaked and corroded. Pigeons were nesting in the cornices. “Where there was metal,” Mr. Allen added, “it was paper-thin.”
And the building’s fire escapes — probably installed, Mr. Allen said, after the Triangle shirtwaist factory fire, the infamous 1911 sweatshop inferno — had damaged the cast iron.
The renovation saved 95 percent of the original facade, with new windows that weigh the same as the originals and go up and down with the same kind of chain mechanism. The team had new sheet metal fabricated for the cornices. “We were able to save 30 percent of the 34 Greene Street cornice,” Mr. Allen said. “We had to replicate the 32 in its entirety.”
Will the cornices last 137 years, the way the originals did? “We’ll do better,” Mr. Allen said. “Our supports are stainless steel. Theirs was a combination of iron straps and wood. Lasted a while.”
The renovation team had to coordinate its work on the paint with the Landmarks Preservation Commission because the buildings are within the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District.
But first Mr. Allen had to scrape the samples to send to Dr. Buck. “The trick is to try and get the whole sample, and with a piece of wood that’s easy, because you actually gouge into the wood a little bit and get all the layers of paint and a little bit of wood,” Mr. Allen said. “With a cast iron building, you have to be sure you get down to the iron, but you can’t take the iron. You’d crack it because it’s brittle.”
Dr. Buck matched the colors she found in the samples to a color available now — Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter. But Ms. Mainetti said the team decided to use a different Benjamin Moore color, Navajo White.
“It’s funny that it’s so common a color,” she said. “Navajo White almost replaced white in inside environments, and that’s what was there, on the outside, very, very early.”
Landmark Soho Penthouse Hits the Market With New Look
March 11, 2010, by Joey
Now here's the Singer Building we know and love. Note the great New Museum view.
(click to enlarge)
Dating back to 1904, Soho's Singer Building is a neighborhood icon thanks to its prominent Broadway location and one of the most eye-catching facades in town, a wrought iron and terra cotta masterpiece designed by Ernest Flagg. The 12-story former manufacturing building is now a co-op (units were originally live/work spaces for artists), and the 3BR, 2.5BA penthouse has just popped up on the market asking $4.495 million. We're calling it the Singer Surprise, because while we weren't expecting the loft to mirror the classic detailing on the outside of the building, we sure weren't expecting this either. The renovated 3,000-square-foot space "exudes a level of contemporary sophistication," boasts the listing, and had Tony Montana survived those 10,000 gunshot wounds, we could see this as his ultimate Manhattan pied-a-terre. There's a bigger, art-filled unit on the seventh floor asking $6.995 million, but we'll take the views and the cheaper price tag and impose our own bad taste on the place.
Listing: 561 Broadway #PHA [R & R Realty]
^ Paint the sprinkler system white, so it's less obtrusive.
Also, if the end wall were white instead of black, there would be better light distribution: softer, with less glare.
Bad Case of Bedbugs Closes Hollister Soho
by Cynthia Drescher
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Why would a store that's still shiny and new be closed for "maintenance" during a prime summer shopping day? Better ask Hollister in Soho, because the Wall Street Journal reports that their massive flagship was closed yesterday on account of bedbug infestation.
Although employees claim that bedbugs were only affecting "certain isolated areas of the store," Gothamist makes the excellent point that bedbugs only feed at night, and Hollister Soho is almost completely dark at any given time. It also doesn't help that an employee of the store called his workplace a "bedbug breeding ground."
The story gets even juicier! While the store is shut, full time employees are being paid but not the part-timers, and Hollister has stationed three shirtless models outside to tell potential customers that the store is closed until further notice.
Because bedbugs love clothing and wood, Hollister will have to turn itself upside down and inside out to completely get rid of the little bloodsuckers. Although employees believe that the store will reopen in a day or two, we'd recommend giving it a wide berth for a bit or you know...perhaps shop places with atmospheres less conducive to bedbug sexytime.
Now turn out all your recent Hollister Soho purchases and inspect them, and let the lawsuits begin. Trust that we'll be following this story closely.
Wait till this happens at Saks!
These pics make me miss New York.
Crocs Treads Lightly with Soho Flagship
The 1818 structure has been meticulously restored, along with a storefront
dating from around the 1920s.
When shoe retailer Crocs set its sights on Soho, the blogosphere didn’t hesitate grouching about the rubber clog emporium’s arrival at the corner of Spring and Wooster streets. What was feared as an assault of global branding, however, has become an unlikely symbol of a sea change for New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, which pushed for a modern, glassy volume in the heart of the historic cast-iron district.
The rear addition was kept intentionally modest so as not to
overwhelm the historic house.
The project began in 2006, when Crocs signed a 20-year lease for 4,800 square feet for its New York flagship. At that time, the three-story corner house was in bad shape. Built in 1818 as a single-family residence, it had undergone six renovations and most recently housed a Tennessee Mountain restaurant. Because of its age and location, any alterations of the Federal-era building needed LPC approval, and thus began a year-long saga with five public hearings that resulted in the unusually contemporary structure in the center of Soho.
Heading up design work for both building exteriors, New York architect William J. Rockwell proposed a restoration for the old townhouse based on a photograph from the 1920s. The first twist Rockwell encountered concerned a three-story, 1925 garage attached to the old house, which had undergone many alterations and was set to be demolished. To replace the structure, Rockwell suggested a simple building that resembled the old garage**. But to his surprise, LPC preferred a modern transitional glass piece instead. The idea was that the townhouse would be better expressed if accompanied by an almost invisible structure, which at the same time could reinforce the street wall along Wooster.
“The fact that it could be more transparent and modern was very exciting,” said Rockwell. “In the ten last ten years, Landmarks has been more and more interested in different expressions if it can serve the purpose of representing history,” he added. “And in this case it does.”
On Wooster Street, the glass facade completes the street wall.
The structural glass allows views through to the original building.
I pass by this almost everyday for work, and it always makes me shiver. Ha! But that might be because I'm not a fan (at all) of Crocs. The building though is interesting...
Design Research aesthetic. Ben Thompson would be pleased. (And so am I.)