LPC to Review Proposal for Immersive Museum at the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank, in Lower Manhattan

Rendering of immersive exhibition space 'Hall Des Lumieres' - Culturespaces / Woods BagotRendering of immersive exhibition space 'Hall Des Lumieres' - Culturespaces / Woods Bagot

The Landmarks Preservation Commission is scheduled to review a proposal to partially renovate and repurpose the ground floor areas of the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank in Lower Manhattan into an immersive digital museum and gallery. Titled “Hall Des Lumieres,” the exhibition would feature 3D projections of the works of famed Austrian painter Gustav Klimt and would require architectural modifications to both the building’s façade and landmarked interiors.

Located at 49-51 Chambers Street, the historic Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank was built between 1909 and 1912 and survives today as one of New York City’s most impressive examples of Beaux Arts construction. Behind the ornate, frieze-embellished façade is an even more remarkable grand hall and banking room with ceiling spans in excess of 40 feet. Interior adornments that have survived more than a century include stained glass panels, brass embellishments, intricate limestone carvings, and beehive motifs. This ground-floor interior space was also landmarked by the LPC in 1985.

Proposed changes to the façade include a new canopied public entrance, a staff entrance, and what appears to be a storage room or back-of-house entrance. The design team has also proposed the installation of discreet LED lighting to highlight the ornate exterior and exhibition signage, which includes several flag posts and vinyl banners measuring 14 feet wide by 18 feet tall.

The Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank, Existing Conditions - Woods Bagot

The Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank, Existing Conditions – Woods Bagot

Existing facade (left) and proposed facade changes (right) - Woods Bagot

Existing facade (left) and proposed facade changes (right) – Woods Bagot

Proposed marqueed public entrance - Woods Bagot

Proposed marqueed public entrance – Woods Bagot

Within, renderings reveal pervasive refurbishment of the historic limestone walls and pillars, marble treatments, and the existing brass-cased doors. The teller windows and stone knee wall would be entirely removed to improve interior circulation and make space for a coat room and ticketing and gift shop areas. Renderings also reveal a new half-flight stairway leading up to a mezzanine viewing area.

All stone materials removed to support the exhibition would be repurposed, where possible, to refinish the exposed sides of the new wall openings.

Existing (left) and proposed (right) public entryway - Woods Bagot

Existing (left) and proposed (right) public entryway – Woods Bagot

Existing interior space (left) and proposed renovations (right) - Woods Bagot

Existing interior space (left) and proposed renovations (right) – Woods Bagot

Existing (left) and proposed mezzanine (right) - Woods Bagot

Existing (left) and proposed mezzanine (right) – Woods Bagot

The project team behind the temporary exhibition includes Culturespaces, a French design studio that specializes in the adaptive reuse of historic buildings into video-powered canvases, and IMG, a global sports, entertainment, and media company. The Chetrit Group, the current owner of the building, purchased the property from New York City in 2013 for $89 million and is currently converting the upper levels of the structure into condominiums.

Global architecture and consulting studio Woods Bagot has served as executive architect for the building’s residential conversion. The studio will also oversee the conversion and historic preservation of the ground-floor exhibition area.

The LPC will host a public hearing for the project on Tuesday, May 5.

Map of proposed activations for immersive exhibition space 'Hall Des Lumieres' - Culturespaces / Woods Bagot

Map of proposed activations for immersive exhibition space ‘Hall Des Lumieres’ – Culturespaces / Woods Bagot

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7 Comments on "LPC to Review Proposal for Immersive Museum at the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank, in Lower Manhattan"

  1. I want to elicit the secrets of America, why did you build a tall building; that looks so beautiful in my view: Thank you.

    • Secrets of America?
      Indeed.
      The ultra-rich of that era had money to burn, often ill-gotten, with an ego to match.
      Sound familar?
      Instead of giving back to the communities that built them up,
      all too often (but not always), they built monuments to themselves, as with the Woolworth building.
      This particular edifice looks like it would make an awe-inspiring church, or other place of worship.
      Since it’s so near the Tweed Courthouse, perhaps something in memory of Saint Tweed, the patron saint of con-men, would be fitting
      Or a CVS drugstore, as was done with the much less impressive & ornate bank building at the corner of 8th Ave and 14th street.
      A museum would at least allow fuller public access, unlike the similarly stunning bank buildings allong 42nd street in midtown – which were turned into exclusive high priced restaurants that most of the public will never see or enjoy.

  2. This “green” rooftop will probably follow the example of Pier 17, which the public was conned into believing would be a sylvan expanse of nature.

    Re: this quasi-museum… First look to the historic South Street Seaport Museum. Do we need another struggling entity with no government support, no endowment’, no ability to display a permanent collection?

  3. 89 million for a building like that. 300000 sq feet. Unbelieveable ceilings.

    Perhaps the lpc status has a lower price on it.

    But dare we imagine a big johnny spending 100 million for a 300000sq foot bachelor pad 10 minutes from 9 trains.

  4. Paid 89 million in 2013. That site could go for 250 million. Delivered empty.

    Rare historical setting with access to all of old world nyc downtown.

    Hop out ur building take 9 trains. Do all ur high end shopping within 20 blocks of u.

    Decent to great restaurants within 30 minutes. Little italy. Chinatown. Fidi.

  5. Makes me wonder some modern day lex luger doesnt buy one these buildings. Lease out the bottom 8 floors to nonprofits. Tocover maintenance.

    And live in 90000 bachelor pad above everyone else.

    Help society and have killer bong parties opposite municipal buildings.

  6. Why even sell a building like that. There must have dozens of firms that could have leased at $xx dollars. I mean its a work of history. Some white shoe law firm or hip anchor tech firm could cover property maintenance easily.

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