When it comes to the great architects of the 20th century, most people will recognize the name Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright himself would probably agree with that assessment but he was also quoted as saying that Ralph Thomas Walker was “the only other honest architect in America.”
Walker was born in Connecticut in 1889 and studied at MIT before becoming a practicing architect in Boston, Montreal, and New York City, where he worked on projects as varied as churches, universities, and office buildings. Eventually, he set his focus on skyscrapers, once saying that “the skyscraper is the only means of living in this age of the machine. It is an expression and reflection of the age.” He became well-known for his Art Deco designs and was named “Architect of the Century” by The New York Times for his bold work on buildings such the Irving Trust Building (now known as One Wall Street) and the Western Union Building (now 60 Hudson Street ).
Before those and many other memorable designs, he came up with the look and feel for perhaps his most iconic creation. Walker was commissioned in the early 1920s to design the headquarters for the New York Telephone Company in TriBeCa. Construction began in 1923 and was completed in 1927. The Barclay-Vesey Building rose 498 feet and 32 stories into the sky as New York City’s first Art Deco skyscraper.
Over the years, it also served as the headquarters of NYNEX, Bell Atlantic, who merged with NYNEX, and eventually Verizon, which was created out of the merger of Bell and GTE.
In 2001, a $1.4 billion restoration project began that took three years to complete. The ornaments and detailed work in the facade and lobby were refurbished and maintained, 23 elevators were upgraded, new command systems were integrated, and multiple plaster friezes were restored, just to name some of the work done. While the building had already been designated a New York City Landmark in 1999, the restoration helped ensure that it was added to the National Register of Historic Places a decade later in 2009.
In 2013, Verizon announced it would move its headquarters and sold the top 22 floors to developer Ben Shaoul, who set his sights on converting them into luxury condominium residences under the name One Hundred Barclay.
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The Art Deco design of the building is unmistakable and it’s no surprise to know it was once said to be “one of the most significant structures in skyscraper design.” Working in its favor was that it was one of the first skyscrapers designed under the 1916 Zoning Resolution, which called for the use of the step back principle, a common and recognizable element in many art deco designs. This thick masonry of the exterior exudes a bold, unmovable sensibility but also feels like a graceful and stoic part of the skyline.
Of course, the main attraction in the building has long been its lobby. The 6,000-square-foot space features tons of ornate designs, including veined marble walls, travertine floors, and bronze medallions. 12 murals painted by Hugo R.B. Newman line the ceiling, depicting the evolution of human communication, from Aztec runners all the way up to the telephone. Walker said he was inspired by Mayan architecture is creating the look and feel of the facade.
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The luxury residences inside 100 Barclay Street find a way to combine the pre-war proportionality of the building’s floors with modern design and luxury. That’s evident in the great room where 10-foot ceilings and double-hung windows allow natural light and epic views to flood the living space. Custom-stained white oak flooring goes wall-to-wall, allowing residents a beautiful base to start building upon.
Open kitchens are modern marvels, featuring top of the line appliances from Sub-Zero, an oven from Miele, a Wolf gas range that vents to the outdoors. The wine storage freezer and Dornbracht pot filler take life to the next level and the Calacatta Gold marble throughout complete the package.
Large bedrooms provide a respite from the busy world outside. Multi-paned double-hung windows keep out the noise but let in the lights when you want. Multi-zone heating and cooling systems keep you comfortable no matter what you need at the end of a hectic day.
Luxurious bathrooms are lined with marble floors and Lagos Blue limestone. Double vanities and top-of-the-line fixtures take the master bath experience to the next level. Some masters even come with radiant heat flooring for the ultimate in comfort and coziness.
If you want to really take things up a level, figuratively and literally, the 14,500-square-foot penthouse residence does just that. The 96-feet by 33-feet living room area is bigger than a basketball court and actually the largest living room in New York City. Spanning both the 32nd and 33rd floors, this impressive living space boasts 21-foot industrial-style windows, a 630-bottle wine room, space for up to seven bedrooms, and the largest continuous art wall in any private home in the city. No wonder it listed for $59 million in May of 2018.
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A historic building and luxury residences are fantastic, but what is life like in and around them? 100 Barclay claims to have more amenities than any other residential building in TriBeCa and once you see the full list you’ll find it hard to disagree. Who else can boast 40,000 square feet of amenity space?
The building’s Club Level on the 18th floor includes four landscaped terraces with 365-degree views, a lounge with built-in bar and dining room, private wine tasting room, 100 wine storage lockers, a media lounge with private theater, billiards room, teen room with table games and video game area, children’s playroom, music rooms for jamming, and business center for meetings.
The Fitness Center and Spa include an 82-foot lap pool, children’s wading pool, Wright Fit gym, yoga & pilates studio, spa treatment rooms, a steam room, and sauna. Residents can also sign up for personal fitness training, spa services, nutritional advice, and more.
Downstairs, the Jeffrey Beers-designed reception lobby features a 24-hours a day doorman and concierge. There’s also a library and lounge areas for residents while The Ralph Walker Private Event Space is available for special occasions. Valet parking, cold storage, and sommelier services round out the exquisite offerings.
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While pre-sales have been in full swing for a while, a handful of luxury condos remain unsold in 100 Barclay Street. On one end of the range is a 1,443 square-foot, two-bedroom unit asking $3,338,500. On the other end is a 3,111 square-foot, four-bedroom residence asking $6,450,000. And of course, the aforementioned penthouse is still available asking $59 million if you really want to live your best life.