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1 Wall Street: Review and Ratings

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Carter Horsley
Review of 1 Wall Street by Carter Horsley

One of the city's greatest Art Deco skyscrapers, 1 Wall Street is notable for its fluted limestone façades and its extremely lavish and colorful interiors. 

It was designed for the Irving Trust Company by Ralph T. Walker of Voorhees Gmelin & Walker in 1931.  The current architect is SLCE, which replaced Robert A.M. Stern Architects. 

In his excellent pamplet, "Forging a Metropolis, Walking Tours of Lower Manhattan Architecture," Andrew S. Dolkart noted that "as befits a location at one of the world's most prestigious addresses, the Irving Trust Company Building is among the masterpieces of skyscraper design." 

"Responding the requirements of the 1916 zoning law, architect Ralph Walker created one of the most subtle, yet dramatic towers in Manhattan....It rises 654 feet through a series of setbacks that appear to have been chiseled out of a solid block, culminating in a tall, shaftlike tower topped by an angled and crystalline crown. The subtle stonework of the façades is carved in a gently undulating pattern that resembles the folds of a fabric curtain (giving new meaning to the term 'curtain wall'). Other notable exterior features are the crystalline windows and entrance arch (crystals were a popular Art Deco form), the bronze window mullions, and the stylizing carving on the ground floor." 

Bordered by Broadway, Wall Street, New Street and Exchange Place, One Wall will also offer a hefty amount of commercial space - 174,000 square feet for up to eight tenants, according to Macklowe. The firm has signed one major tenant, Whole Foods Market, which will take 44,000 square feet in the annex building just to the south of the tower on Broadway, and Lifetime Fitness Resort.

Bottom Line

One of the city's greatest Art Deco skyscapers with a legendary location on Broadway at Wall Street across from Trinity Church, this building has hundreds of apartments and its annex will have a highly visible Whole Foods store on Broadway.


The original Reception Hall, entered directly from Wall Street, is one of the most theatrical public rooms in New York. Its scintillating colors are in marked contrast to the white walls of the exterior. The three-story space contains spectacular mosaics designed by Ralph Walker with artist Hildreth Meiere. The Ravenna Mosaics Company executed the work with glass tesserae manufactured in its Berlin studio.....The color of the mosaic grades imperceptibly from a dark red at the base to orange at the ceiling. Running though the ground is an increasing abstract, web-like pattern of gold." 

In their great book, "New York 1930, Architecture and Urbanism Between The Two World Wars," Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin and Thomas Mellins noted that the lot was "said to be the most expensive on earth" and that Walker "captured the spirit if not the stylistic letter of German Expressionism, creating a building that seemed to hover somewhere between a work of architecture and an organic creation of nature." 

"Perhaps the closest counterparts to Irving Trust," the authors wrote, "were Mies van der Rohe's 1919-21 projects for glass skyscrapers, where the steel frame was sheathed in a curtain of glass and the building conceived of as a faceted sculpture of crystal. The Irving Trust Building, for which Dean Everett V. Meeks served as consulting architect, had some of the same ambiguity - its walls purported to be curtains, but the overriding sense was of a massive precipice carved in and hollowed out. Nothing could have been further from the Beaux-Arts rationalism of New York architects like Thomas Hastings or Cross & Cross, who tried to accentuate the nonstructural nature of skyscraper façades by treating them as a taut skin, sliced here and there to revel the steel cage behind. For Walker, the cage was too mundane to need expression....At Irving Trust, structure became an unseen prop for poetry; the steel frame was draped outside with rippling curtains of stone and, in the major rooms of the interior, with hanging tapestries of mosaic..... 

"The crowing feature was a nearly square, astylar pavilion with one enormous window on each side housing the grandest observation lounge in the city, The rhythmic arrangement of several sizes of flutes carried the eye restlessly across the surface of the wall, subordinating all details....The public rooms at Irving Trust were equal to anything Walker had ever done and among the period's most splendid and inventive interiors. The sole figurative decoration in the building was a ceiling mural in the elevator lobby, a Futurist-inspired design by Kimon Nicolaides, The Only Reason for Wealth is the Attainment of Beauty, it was executed in blue airbrush on a field of silver leaf by Hildreth Meiere. The spirit of Nicolaides's theme was more convincingly conveyed in the ground-floor reception room and the skyborne observation lounge....these two rooms resembled weightless tents suspended from above by invisible wires, their ceilings subtly broken into triangular facets that sloped down gently from the center of the room and then plunged sharply into the walls, which, like the building's façades, angled in and out to suggest hanging curtains. All of this was then combined with an extraordinary use of texture and pattern to dematerialize every surface. The color scheme of the main-floor reception room, which was one of the most unconventional banking halls in the city, was coordinated by Hildreth Meiere. The floor was red terrazzo, and a dado of deep burgundy marble ran around the room. From it rose a glittering mosaic that shaded from red tiles in blue grout at the bottom to a brilliant orange in black grout on the ceiling. The gradation was so subtle that it seemed to be an effect of light rather than an actual change of color. Walker and his associate Perry Coke Smith went to Berlin to supervise personally the fabrication of the mosaic tiles. Threaded through the pontillist field of tiles were lines of shaded gold that flashed in the light of torcheres and formed a pattern evoking a forest of bare trees or the fault lines found in minerals." 

The top of the building has a very angled plan and gives a hint at what might have been developed atop the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company's North Annex Building, another scalloped masterpiece, if it had been built to its full height. 

A July 20, 2018 article in The New York Times by C. J. Hughes that "One Wall Street, a prominent tower last occupied by BNY Mellon and most famously the longtime home of Irving Trust," is being redeveloped by Macklowe Properties into a 566-unit residential condominium building. 

Occupancy in the 50-story, Art Deco tower is estimated for 2022. 

To avoid the awkward layouts that can result from office conversions, Macklowe is relocating the elevators from a perimeter wall into the center of the building to allow for more apartments with windows, the article said, adding that, in total, Macklowe is removing 20 elevators in the residential portion of the building and installing 10 new ones, said Andy Golubitsky, the Macklowe vice president managing the project. 

One Wall occupies a site once considered New York’s most valuable corner. Indeed, Irving Trust paid $700 a square foot for the property in the late 1920s, according to “The Rise of Wall Street,” a 2010 exhibition at the Skyscraper Museum. A 30-story annex, which is not a landmark but is being redeveloped as part of One Wall, was added in 1965.


The building will have 100,000 square feet of amenities spread across multiple floors, and will include an enclosed pool, a 39th-floor roof deck, a concierge, a children's playroom, a teen lounge, a private co-working space, a garage, and storage. 



All apartments will feature floors made of engineered wood, in six-inch-wide planks, plus Miele appliances, and washers and dryers. But buyers will have some choices: They can select glass or lacquered kitchen cabinets. 

Private terraces will be included with 47 apartments, courtesy of more than a dozen setbacks at the tapered tower. 

Prices at One Wall Street, which Macklowe acquired in 2014 for $585 million, will average $2,600 a square foot, according to a spokeswoman for the project, with an average apartment price of about $3 million. 

Apartment 7D is a three-bedroom unit with a 19-foot-long entry foyer leading diagonally to the 23-foot-long living/dining room and 12-foot-long kitchen with an island. 

Apartment 804 is a studio unit with a 17-foot-long living room and an entry foyer with an open kitchen. 

Apartment 4M is a studio unit with an 8-foot-wide entry foyer next to a 9-foot-square open kitchen with an island and a 24-foot-long living/dining room with a 12-foot-wide bedroom area. 

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Murray Hill
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