Location within New York City
|Architectural style||International Style/Art Deco|
|Location||601 West 26th Street
Manhattan, New York City
|Cost||$6-9 million (est.)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Cory and Cory|
|Designated||October 7, 1986|
The Starrett-Lehigh Building at 601 West 26th Street between Eleventh and Twelfth Avenues and between 26th and 27th Streets in Chelsea, Manhattan, New York City, is a full-block freight terminal, warehouse and office building. It was built in 1930–31 as a joint venture of the Starrett real-estate interests and the Lehigh Valley Railroad on a lot where the railroad had its previous freight terminal, and was designed by the firm of (Russell G.) Cory & (Walter M.) Cory, with Yasuo Matsui the associate architect and the firm of Purdy & Henderson the consulting engineers.
History and description
The building features large setbacks, polygonal corners, and alternating bands of steel strip windows, brickwork and concrete floorplates, creating a striking effect described by architectural critic Lewis Mumford in 1931: "the contrast between the long, continuous red-brick bands and the green-framed windows, with sapphire reflections or depths, is as sound a use of color as one can see about the city." The modernity of the building's design made it one of the few American structures not designed by a major architect cited in the 1932 "Modern Architecture: International Exhibition" show of the Museum of Modern Art,
Like the Terminal Warehouse Central Stores Building on the next block uptown, trains could be driven directly into the ground floor of the building, which included not only a rail yard, but also loading and unloading facilities for trucks, warehouse areas for storage, repackaging, redistribution, and manufacturing facilities as well as areas to display goods. The office section is above the north facade. The structural requirements for the building, which has 26 million cubic feet of space, 1.8 million square feet of which is rentable, necessitated innovative interior engineering. During construction, the geology of the site forced a change from the original plan of a uniform 15-story building to the current layout of a 19-story section in the middle, flanked by 9-story wing on the west, and an eastern one of 18 stories.
When William A. Starrett died in 1932, the Lehigh Valley Railroad bought the building outright, but by 1933 it was a losing proposition, with a net loss that year of $300,000. A number of factors contributed to the building not being an immediate financial success. The city's construction boom of the 1920s came to a stop with the start of the Great Depression and there was less demand for the rentable space in the building; the cost of construction was more than expected, due to changes in the foundation necessitated by differing level of bedrock across the building's footprint; and competition from another terminal with considerably cheaper rates announced to be built by the Port Authority – 111 Eighth Avenue, built in 1932 – depressed the buyer's market further, as they waited for the new building instead of renting from Starrett-Lehigh. The Lehigh Valley Railroad disassociated itself from the building in 1944, and the rail lines were removed in 1966. By 1998, it was owned by the Helmsley real estate concern.
In April 2011, Shorenstein Properties of San Francisco, who owned the building, sold it to Scott Rechler's RXR Realty LLC for $900 million. Among the tenants in the building are Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the Mcgarrybowen advertising agency, Club Monaco US of Ralph Lauren Corporation and Tommy Hilfiger USA, the building's largest tenant.
- "Starrett-Lehigh Building Designation Report" New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (October 7, 1986)
- New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Postal, Matthew A. (ed. and text); Dolkart, Andrew S. (text). (2009) Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.) New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1, pp.71–72
- White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot (2000). AIA Guide to New York City (4th ed.). New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-8129-3107-5., p.187
- Gray, Christopher. "Streetscapes: Starrett-Lehigh Building; Time of Change for a Modern Industrial Landmark" New York Times (May 31, 1998)
- Harris, Bill (text); Brockmann, Jorg (photographs). Five Hundred Buildings of New York. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2002. p.57. ISBN 978-1-57912-856-2
- Federal Writers' Project. (1939) New York City Guide. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-403-02921-X (Reprinted by Scholarly Press, 1976; often referred to as WPA Guide to New York City), p.72
- Brazee, Christopher D. and Most, Jennifer L. "West Chelsea Historic District Designatin Report". New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (July 15, 2008)
- Levy, Dan. "RXR Said to Buy NYC’s Starrett-Lehigh Building for $900 Million" Bloomberg Businessweek (April 20, 2011)
- Agovino, Theresa. "Ad agency adds 47K SF at Starrett-Lehigh" Crain's New York Business (January 10, 2012)
- Media related to Starrett-Lehigh Building at Wikimedia Commons