Fashion Center Building Restoration & Renovation
Project : Fashion Center Building Historic Restoration & Renovation
Location : Garment District, Manhattan
Firm : George Ranalli Architect
Team : George Ranalli, John Butterworth,
Ursula Kyle, Giovanni Pagnotta
Associates: Silman Engineers
Photography: Kathryn Bogart Photography
In the early 1990s, George Ranalli Architect completed a project to restore and update The Fashion Center Building. The process began when a small group holding title found themselves the reluctant stewards of a 23-story Romanesque-Revival structure in the heart of Manhattan’s Garment District at 525 Seventh Avenue. Sensing an opportunity, irrespective of the building’s shabby condition and sluggish rent rolls, the Owners’ were not ready to hang up the “For Sale” sign. GRA evaluated the building and its genealogy which indicated it was the little known work of prominent Chicago architect, Henry Ives Cobb, circa 1923; although barely recognizable after two previous alterations which left the building beyond recognition.
Restoration efforts recreated the building’s lost exterior facade elements, and portico, closed off behind mental doors, as well as magnificent adjoining lobby spaces, encased under an eight-foot high drop ceiling. Employing noninvasive techniques, the project also updated the ‘al fresco’ entrance, adding new flooring and exterior lighting, for the benefit of further enhancing Henry Ives Cobb’s terra cotta and wrought iron composition. Inside, modern lighting design also tucked inside delicate and rehabilitated ceiling light fixtures, illuminating a beautiful reconstruction of the lobby’s vaulted cast plaster ceiling, and revived marble wall panels, bronze window frames, heating grills, and elevator doors. A new bronze reception desk provided a companionable contemporary element.
On the building’s upper floors, updating the common areas included new lighting design, terrazzo flooring, custom-cabinetry, and milled aluminum trim, rising and wrapping around corners. The project successfully restored the building’s original distinctive appeal while also attracting a new tenancy. The Fashion Center Building historic restoration and renovation project successfully brought back the aura of Henry Ives Cobb’s architecture of ethereal beauty, which accommodated contemporary building system upgrades, helping to assure a long and prosperous future for the building and its owners.