Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Union Square About to Get Another Facelift

The home of Tammany Hall is set to get a massive face lift in the near future, promising to truly elevate the look of 17th and Union Square East. Currently home to the New York Film Academy and various retail tenants, the building was once the famed hotbed of political corruption. A New York City Landmark, the current controversy has been over the proposed turtle shell glass dome, meant as a tribute to Native American Chief Tamanend, who was of the turtle clan and the namesake of Tammany Hall. Originally rejected by the Landmarks Preservation Commission as too modern, BSKS Architects presented a modified version which was approved a few weeks ago. 

The new design will feature a reconfigured fourth through sixth floors, which would include the dome and would be for a single tenant. The design would allow a person on each of the upper floors to see down to the floors below. The proposal also would remove the theater, restore the facades, replace signage, create new entrances on 17th Street, and remove plaques from the eastern end of the 17th Street side of the building to replace them with windows. Judging by the renderings, the new design would in many ways restore much of the facade to be more in line with the original presentation of the building. 


The building, located at 44-48 Union Square East and 100-102 East 17th Street, was completed in 1929 by architect Charles B. Meyers. It replaced the old Tammany Hall building, which was on 14th Street and was completed in 1868. Elise Quasebarth of the preservation firm Higgins Quasebarth & Partners said the building has a "rich political and cultural history." It was sold in 1943 to a union, which owned it until 1984. A few have stepped forward to petition for it to house a museum about political corruption, but it is likely this will not gain the needed support. 


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