When setting out to both preserve an 87-year-old Manhattan office building and also reimagine the structure for cutting-edge 21st Century tenants, it’s a safe bet daunting hurdles will be encountered. Unveiling something akin to a whole new concept in office buildings proved a challenge that required innovative vision on the part of Marx Realty, the company responsible for the reinvention of the Grand Central submarket trophy tower.
“We were seeking to create a completely new offering that does not yet exist in the marketplace,” says Craig Deitelzweig, president and CEO of Marx Realty. “Rather than being another building with an all-white marble-clad lobby that has been so common over the last few decades, we knew that 10 Grand Central should be warm, inviting and more reminiscent of a hotel in its character. Similarly, we wanted to embrace the building’s 1930s Ely Jacques Kahn heritage and yet be very modern. Balancing these contrasting objectives took a great amount of thoughtfulness in the design and lots of refining of the final product.”
The focus of all this attention is 10 Grand Central, 155 East 44th Street in Manhattan. Opened in 1931, the 35-story tower was designed by acclaimed architect Ely Jacque Kahn, best known for Bergdorf Goodman’s Fifth Avenue department store and the Seagram Building, on which Kahn collaborated with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson.
Marx Realty obtained archival photographs of the building from the 1930s, Deitelzweig says.
“We adapted a modern version of the original materials, and visited some of the finest hotels and private clubs to create the right hospitality feel. We also worked closely with and pushed our architects, who were fantastic — even though they probably were a bit tired of me saying ‘it has to be more special’ — to achieve a result that is truly transformational and memorable.”
The $45 million repositioning of the Beaux Arts-design building emphasizes dramatic design revisions, among them a resituated and recrafted entry portal soaring four stories in height. Also part of the redesign is a freshly delineated lobby, sumptuous lounge, well-appointed and landscaped open-air terrace and an expansive conference space. Pre-constructed suites offer upscale finishes and features previously unseen in this market.
“Warm walnut wood, concrete, brushed brass and velvet are used throughout the building’s full redesign,” Deitelzweig notes, adding the inspiration behind the redesign came from exclusive hotels and private clubs. “These elegant enhancements will return this classic, yet modern, tower to its rightful place among the elite Grand Central buildings.”
Studio Architecture, the firm Marx Realty chose to handle the redesign, repositioned the building entrance to 44th Street to deliver a decidedly Grand Central Terminal orientation.
The doorman-attended four-story entryway, combining a fascinating mixed-medium of gloss-block brick, brass and walnut, will open onto a meticulously-crafted new lobby noteworthy for its clean lines and up-to-date details, along with brushed brass and walnut accents. In keeping with the updating of a nearly nine-decade-old structure, the softly-lit setting is at once classic and contemporary, encircling a jewel box reception desk.
“This architecturally important tower has terrific bones and the infrastructure allows for the implementation of Marx Realty’s vision to create an upscale, exclusive vibe and undoubtedly unlock the value of this location,” says Studios Architecture Principal David Burns. “At the start of this project, few developers were showing the foresight to bring this kind of boutique hospitality feel to an office property. The grand entrance that transports visitors and tenants to an intimate lobby space is a perfect example of a forward-thinking developer anticipating the design elements that will have the greatest impact for tomorrow’s office users.”
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