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... And the Kitchen Sink
By Carter Horsley   |   From Behind The Buildings Monday, December 21, 2015
Some developers try to cram every conceivable amenity into their residential condominium projects -- garage rooms, cabanas, libraries, billiards rooms, storage rooms, fitness centers -- in an effort to corral buyers.

A true 'kitchen sink' building is the 13-story structure designed by Cleverdon & Putzel that was erected in 1897 at 583 Broadway, between Prince and Houston streets.

There was a time, though, when developers sought to dazzle their neighbors and inspire civic pride by slapping everything in the proverbial architectural "kitchen sink" onto the outside of their buildings -- arches, cartouches, bandcourses, cornices, gargoyles.

There are plenty of architectural masterpieces in New York, including the Plaza Hotel and the Chrysler Building, but these gems are not true "kitchen sink" structures, where the architect has reached into a grab bag of design elements and flung the whole kit-and-kaboodle at the building in a chaotic Jackson Pollock moment.

One true "kitchen sink" building is the 13-story structure designed by Cleverdon & Putzel that was erected in 1897 at 583 Broadway, between Prince and Houston streets. Converted to a condominium from an office building in 1996, it was the home of the New Museum of Contemporary Art before that institution moved to a new site on the Bowery.

Every floor at 583 Broadway has a different facade treatment, and while the architects employed many conventional elements, they did so with considerable flair and originality.

On the ground floor, for example, there are three large arches, while the entrance at the south has a semicircular top divided into two smaller arches, surmounted by two three-sided windows with two curved sides.

The bandcourse above the sixth floor has two large cartouches, while the one above the eighth floor has five wonderful winged creatures with open mouths.

The building has a large and impressive cornice, and also boasts a lion's head at the top of the fourth floor, on either side of the building, where the sides are slightly indented.

Two-story fluted Corinthian columns between the second and third floors are in stark contrast with the flat granite pilasters with foliate capitals on the ground floor. There are also two-story-high columns with Doric capitals between the 10th and 11th floors.

The fourth floor has arched windows with elaborate entablatures that are repeated on the 12th floor, while the arched windows on the eighth floor have fluted pilaster sides, and the 10th-floor windows are capped with very ornate scalloped pediments and flanked by one-story columns.

Every building in the city need not be worthy of a seminar, or in need of a dash of salt, but surprises are always welcome.
Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.