Starrett-Lehigh Building

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Starrett-Lehigh Building
Starrett-Lehigh 601 W26 jeh.jpg
Starrett-Lehigh Building is located in New York City
Starrett-Lehigh Building
Location within New York City
General information
Architectural style International Style/Art Deco[1]
Location 601 West 26th Street
Manhattan, New York City
United States
Coordinates 40°45′06″N 74°00′24″W / 40.75167°N 74.00667°W / 40.75167; -74.00667Coordinates: 40°45′06″N 74°00′24″W / 40.75167°N 74.00667°W / 40.75167; -74.00667
Construction started 1930
Completed 1931
Renovated 1998
Cost $6–9 million (est.)[1]
Owner RXR Realty
Height 296 feet (90 m)[2]
Technical details
Floor count 19
Floor area 2,300,000 square feet (210,000 m2)
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 1930–1 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.[3][4]


The building features large setbacks, polygonal corners, and alternating bands of steel strip windows, brickwork and concrete floorplates,[3][4] 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."[5] 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,[3][1] – whence derives the name of the International Style of architecture.[6]

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.[7] The office section is above the north facade.[4] The structural requirements for the building, which has 26 million cubic feet (740,000 m3) of space, 1.8 million square feet (170,000 m2) of which is rentable, necessitated innovative interior engineering.[1] 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.[1]


The building was completed in 1931 by the Starrett Corporation and the Lehigh Valley Railroad, on the site of a former freight terminal for the latter. 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.[5] 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 Authority111 Eighth Avenue, built in 1932 – depressed the buyer's market further, as they waited for the new building instead of renting from Starrett-Lehigh.[1] The Lehigh Valley Railroad disassociated itself from the building in 1944,[8] and the rail lines were removed in 1966.[5] By 1998, it was owned by the Helmsley real estate concern.[5]

The Starrett-Lehigh Building was named a New York City landmark in 1986,[1] and is part of the West Chelsea Historic District, designated in 2008.[8]

In April 2011, Shorenstein Properties of San Francisco, who owned the building, sold it to RXR Realty for $900 million.[9]


Among the tenants in the building are the New York investigation arm of ICE, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia,[9] Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the Mcgarrybowen advertising agency, Club Monaco US of Ralph Lauren Corporation and Tommy Hilfiger USA, the building's largest tenant,[10] Scholastic Corporation[11] and Vanessa Deleon.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Starrett-Lehigh Building Designation Report" New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (October 7, 1986)
  2. ^ Starrett-Lehigh Building at Emporis
  3. ^ a b c New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Dolkart, Andrew S.; Postal, Matthew A. (2009), Postal, Matthew A., ed., Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.), New York: John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1 , pp.71–72
  4. ^ a b c 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
  5. ^ a b c d Gray, Christopher. "Streetscapes: Starrett-Lehigh Building; Time of Change for a Modern Industrial Landmark" New York Times (May 31, 1998)
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ a b Brazee, Christopher D. and Most, Jennifer L. "West Chelsea Historic District Designatin Report". New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (July 15, 2008)
  9. ^ a b Levy, Dan. "RXR Said to Buy NYC’s Starrett-Lehigh Building for $900 Million" Bloomberg Businessweek (April 20, 2011)
  10. ^ Agovino, Theresa. "Ad agency adds 47K SF at Starrett-Lehigh" Crain's New York Business (January 10, 2012)
  11. ^ The 10 biggest office leases of November

External links[edit]