Changing Fashions

by Don Friedman on November 14, 2017

The black paint and lighting make the picture a little hard to read, but this is an old gentleman dressed up in the latest fashion. The building is 2 Rector Street, now known as 101 Greenwich Street*, a 1905 office building that was expanded vertically in the 1920s. It’s a fairly typical building of its era, with a steel frame, tile-arch floors, and a brick and terra cotta facade. It’s not a New York City designated landmark, although there is an easement protecting the main facades from alteration.

The lobby was altered in the past. Rector Street is narrow and its sidewalks are narrower; in order to provide some feeling of space, an arcade was created along the Rector Street sidewalk, decades ago, by moving the glass and metal storefronts one bay inboard of the main facade. The southernmost bay of the first floor was thus turned into an outdoor space. Greenwich Street and Trinity Place, on the west and east sides of the building, still have the original storefronts. The building has recently been spruced up and the lobby renovated. The picture above was taken from within the arcade (and thus simultaneously outdoors and within the body of the building) looking north into the lobby.

The big column painted black is one of the main building columns. iT’s a built-up box in section, made up of two channels and two plates riveted together. That section was quite popular in New York in the 1900s and 1910s, after large steel-framed buildings had become popular but before wide-flange steel sections were commonly available. I’m going to assume that the column is fire-protected with intumescent paint, because I like to assume that people in the A/E/C world are not idiots who would leave a major piece of structure unprotected.

Everything else in the picture is new architectural finishes: the glass and metal storefront, the flooring, the interior wall treatments, and the ceiling. Personally I find the heavy steel to be discordant but that’s obviously a matter of taste.


* Rector Street is a bit peculiar. It’s four blocks long, from Broadway to West Street, but there are only ten buildings that could conceivably have an address on it. 71 Broadway doesn’t use a Rector address and neither does Trinity Church, so that’s the eastmost block gone with no Rector addresses. 2 Rector takes up the whole north side of the second block and 40 Rector takes up the whole north side of the fourth block; 33 Rector and a plaza for 90 Washington Street take up the whole south side of the fourth block; a new hotel at 99 Washington and a landmark house at 94 Greenwich take up the north side of the third block; 88 Greenwich takes up the south side of the third block; and a vacant lot and a small building at 11 Rector are the south side of the second block. In other words, in four blocks, only 2, 11, 33, and 40 Rector are using addresses on the street, and maybe whatever is built on the vacant lot will as well. We’ve worked on three of the four buildings with Rector Street addresses, as well as Trinity Church, so this small and undistinguished street somehow has our highest participation rate. It means nothing but I find myself feeling protective of the street.

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