Led by Rogers Stirk Harbours + Partners, the UK-based design team has proposed a large development project in the West Historic Chelsea District. Consisting of three adjoining construction sites, the firm is seeking to create a new eleven-story building at 550 West 27th Street, as well as an expanded upper section on top of 260 Eleventh Avenue and an exterior renovation of 549 West 26th Street. The proposal is now under review by the Landmark Preservation Committee as of January 10, 2019.
Along with their goal of historic preservation and new boutique development, they also want to integrate the three buildings in order to create sizable and flexible floor plates with easy navigational corridors. Large multi-level atrium spaces would greet workers as they step inside. The 285,000 square foot project is being developed by Vornado Realty Trust, while Higgins Quasebarth & Partners LLC and Building Conservation Associates Inc. are assisting the design team with regards to preservation.
The site of 550 West 27th Street is currently being used as parking space. It sits directly to the east of 260 Eleventh Avenue and to the north of 549 West 26th Street. The new proposed building would have a symmetrical exterior diagrid of dark-colored diagonal steel beams that form the signature look of the structure. Like 3 World Trade Center, these oversized beams would lie precisely in front of a glass curtain wall. There will also be a pair of staircases encased in glass located between 260 Eleventh Avenue and the eastern elevation of the new complex.
Setbacks will be found on the seventh level and form two of the outdoor terraces. The back walls that surround the existing parking space would be removed and or demolished in order to expand the floor plates to the prospective square footage. Another design aspect that is set to capture attention is the use of a cantilevered section above 549 West 26th Street.
260 Eleventh Avenue, aka the Otis Building, is an early 20th century seven-story office tower that spans between West 26th Street and West 27th Street. Two important aspects are proposed for this site, one at ground height and one at the top of the structure. The first incentive calls for an overhaul of the windows and doorways along the sidewalks. As of now, the existing street level casements are all blocked by a tight ferrous metal grille. These would all be removed and be replaced with new clearer and transparent windows.
Next, four new entryways with signage above are to be added to the western facade. This exterior treatment would also be seen on the northern and southern elevation of the building too. The second major transformation calls for a one-layer addition set back twenty- to twenty-two feet from the perimeter of the building, making it almost impossible to be seen and noticed from the immediate surroundings, while preserving the architectural beauty and sight lines.
549 West 26th Street, aka the John Williams Building, is a low-rise six-story building to the east of 260 Eleventh Avenue. The proposal calls for the entire exterior to be renovated and refurbished with new brickwork, windows, and large glass partitions at ground level that open up to foot traffic and allow for better transparency. The eastern elevation would have all its windows and the old fire escape removed and be replaced with a new grid of taller windows that are grouped in clusters of three. There would also be a pair of small balconies in the center of the building. The roof would have a rooftop garden and sit directly under the cantilevered section of 550 West 27th Street.
With the combined footprints of all three buildings, the new ground floor will span just under 40,000 square feet. Above the 7,800 square foot mezzanine level, the next four floors will average around 35,400 square feet. The remaining stories will decrease in size from 27,000 square feet down to only 1,200 square feet by the tenth story. In the end, what brings them together is the elevator core that will house six elevators. The top of the building’s center will include skylights and mechanical units encased behind aluminum panels and glazed windows.
Entryways to the central core will be found through the glass curtain wall of 550 West 27th Street on the north side, while workers can also access the space from West 26th Street, between 260 Eleventh Avenue and 549 West 26th Street. With underground parking below, retail space will be featured above, along Eleventh Avenue, while office levels will occupy the rest of the development. Parts of the floor plates will be situated within an eight-by-nine grid of columns, but still share a sense of openness thanks to multiple parallel corridors down the middle of the building, larger glass windows, and little to no partitions between the nucleus and the perimeter walls.
No completion date for this project has been announced yet and a status update from the LPC has yet to be heard.