description analytical profile
Donatello Fund - Michelangelo II Sub-fund
32-34 Greene Street - New York
Gross surface area: 2,560 sqm / 27,535 sqf
Floors: 5 above ground and 1 below
Year of construction: 1873
Autori: J. F. Duckworth, Charles Wright
Year of Purchase: 2007
Designated use: residential - commercial
In 2007, two buildings were purchased on Greene Street in the Manhattan neighborhood known as SoHo. In recent years SoHo has undergone a profound change leading to its new image as one of the city's most chic and trendy residential areas. The properties at 32 and 34 Greene Street were acquired by the American subsidiary of The Michelangelo Real Estate Corporation, The Michelangelo Fund. With the purchase of these buildings, SoHo Greene Street LLC was created. A detailed plan was devised to divide the building into seven luxury residential units and one commercial unit.
The building was restored using Italian quality materials and style. The lobby offers a 24/7 Video Doorman, cobblestone floors and travertine walls that are reminiscent of a piazza in Rome. The residential area of 32-34 Greene Street contains 7 apartments, and the Penthouse apartment spans both buildings. Large windows, glass doors, parquet flooring and brick walls enhance the feeling of open space in each unit. Designer furniture from Schiffini, a leading furniture maker since the 1950s, adds to the superior quality and Italian style. Each loft has a private keyed-elevator entrance and offers 2 bedrooms and Study, 2 full baths, Mitsubishi zoned HVAC, a laundry room, 12-14 ft ceilings, wide plank oak floors, 19th century reclaimed brick and 10+ ft. mahogany windows. The open Schiffini kitchens boast white lacquer cabinetry, Calacatta marble islands, counter tops and backsplashes. The top-of-the-line Miele appliances I include a convection oven, steam oven, vented gas cook-top, warming drawer, dishwasher, 36" refrigerator and wine refrigerator. The luxurious master baths have double under-mount sinks, double-fixture glass-enclosed steam showers, travertine walls, separate toilets and bidets, and a cast-iron soaking tub with travertine surround. Secondary baths offer an under-mount sink, a cast-iron soaking tub with travertine surround and a shower.
The restoration of the two buildings at 32 and 34 Greene Street involved, among other things, the elimination of external fire escapes and the restoration of the façades to their original condition. During building work, small traces of Navaho White pain from the original building were discovered. This enabled restorers to reproduce the original color. The property consists of two adjacent buildings on the east side of Greene Street in SoHo in Lower Manhattan, an area whose industrial and commercial interests were consolidated in the 1870s. Most of the buildings with completely cast-iron façades date back to that particular decade.
J.F. Duckworth designed 32 Greene Street. Its façade is divided into three bays with windows that have reduced arches, the fifth floor windows with fully rounded arches. The axis of symmetry is emphasized by the slight protrusion of the central bay and by a richly decorated arched crowning cornice. The column capitals stand out because of their effective molding, a minimalist version of the Corinthian order that does not include the Acanthus leaf decoration.
Charles Wright designed 34 Greene Street. Its façade is divided into four bays with big rectangular windows that are slightly rounded at the top. This cornice is also very pronounced, with detailed molding and a triangular tympanum in the center. The columns have plain circles around the base as well as a quarter way up the shaft, and have a capital at the top. The pilasters on the ground floor are decorated with simple linear and ring moldings.
They are, therefore, two distinct but very similar buildings. They are the same height, with the same number of corresponding floors, and built in the same five-month period of time by two of the most active architects in the SoHo district. In 1872, Duckworth built five more buildings on Greene Street, and Wright worked as the architect at 90 Maiden Lane.
Behind the cast-iron façades, the support frames of the two buildings are absolutely conventional, with brick spine walls and wooden floors. The rear façades are more or less identical, with exposed brickwork and simple rectangular windows. The façades overlooking Greene Street display semi-cylindrical and entasis-less columns, stylized capitals and ashlars. These details are elements of an architectonic lexicon that had been simplified for entrepreneurial purposes, but still evoked classical lines. This element of reduced classicism appealed to the fast-expanding commercial clientele, as it was accessible but still provided a historical element. The use of cast-iron in architecture was an American innovation, and was introduced for the first time in 1848. James Bogardus created a façade of castiron, and discovered that it offered a number of advantages, such as a reduction in costs as compared to building materials such as stone or brick. The castiron was ready-made and had industrially produced architectural elements, making it easy to replace as well as transport. Above all, a cast-iron building could be erected very quickly by simply assembling prefabricated pieces that had previously been laid out on the foundry floor and checked and numbered. Architectural motifs from the Italian Renaissance period and the Beaux-art influence of the second French empire were often used in cast-iron façades that were then painted in neutral shades such as beige to simulate stone.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the cast-iron buildings that had originally housed industrial and manufacturing activities gradually gave way to artists' loft studios and street-level galleries. In 1973, the Landmark Preservation Commission of New York established the 'SoHo Cast-Iron Historic District,' thus safeguarding the architectural patrimony of all 26 blocks located between Houston Street, Crosby Street, Canal Street and West Broadway.