Recreated Glory

May 31, 2005
HONORABLE MENTION: 90 Church Street, New York City

As a major post office in New York City (and a Class-A office building), 90 Church Street is one of the largest and finest federal facilities built as part of the public works projects instigated by the U.S. government during the Great Depression. The 1.2-million-square-foot, 15-story structure occupies a full New York City block, and is an illustration of a traditional Classical Revival-style structure decorated with finely executed features that demonstrate the influence of stylized Art Deco forms. Through the years, however, time took its toll on the building. Systems needed to be upgraded, ad hoc renovations marred the original construction, and some of the architectural features had been altered beyond recognition.

Phase I of the restoration included:

  • A historic entry lobby renovation (including unique characteristics and finishes - marble columns, marble/terrazzo floors, and Art Deco metal grilles and doors).
  • Installation of new mechanical/electrical risers throughout the building.
  • Upgrades to the vertical transportation system.
  • Core and shell rehabilitation on the upper floors.
  • Installation of energy-efficient lighting.
  • New office designs (including conferencing facilities, a cafeteria, a training center, and computer rooms).

Phases II and III involved a rehabilitation of the core and shell on the eight remaining tenant floors, and the replacement of exterior pavements.

Phase IV of the restoration involved a complete core and shell rehabilitation, workroom design, and interior fit-out/restoration of retail areas, forensic departments, lunchrooms, conference rooms, offices, and contingency spaces for the United States Postal Service.

As the building was nearing completion, the events of 9/11 caused significant damage to the facility - portions of the plane fuselage ended up on the roof of 90 Church Street. The building’s heavy masonry construction allowed the basic structure to remain standing, but the interior was completely polluted by toxic dust - the facility had to be cleared out, and all of the work for the U.S. Postal Service had to be redone. With proper care and effort, however, 90 Church Street was restored to its former glory as an architectural treasure.

Leah B. Garris ([email protected]) is associate editor at Buildings magazine.

The Modernization Team ■ Architect (entry submitter): Swanke Hayden Connell Architects ■ Client/Developer: Boston Properties ■ Code Consultant: Milrose Consultants Inc. ■ Construction Manager/General Manager: Turner Construction Co. ■ MEP Engineer: Cosentini Associates ■ Owner: U.S. Postal Service ■ Structural Engineer: Gilsanz Murray Steficek LLP ■ Products Used ■ Blinds/Window Treatments: Levolor ■ Building Controls: Siemens ■ Ceilings: Armstrong ■ Doors: ACME ■ Electrical/Electronics Distribution: IPC Information Systems ■ Floorcoverings: Armstrong; Designweave ■ Furniture: Allsteel ■ Hardware: ACME ■ Lighting: Edison Price; Holophane; Lightolier ■ Paint: Benjamin Moore ■ Wallcoverings: Maharam

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