|BUSH TERMINAL SALES BUILDING - WEST 42d ST., NEW YORK. Helmle & Corbett, Architects.|
AN observing foreigner, accustomed to the beauty of European cities, when asked for his impressions of our American product, replied: "Your cities? Oh! they are just streets without ends, buildings without roofs, side walls without decorations, front walls with too much, and tanks, pent-houses, and signs." Was he right ? Look up or down one of our principal avenues and answer for yourself. We do not end our streets, we simply let them peter out; we do not roof our buildings, we simply let their topmost "inards" remain forever exposed. We leave the side walls, the most conspicuous part of our buildings, to bask in adorned ugliness, while we slather our fronts with every conceivable style (and some inconceivable ones), ranging all the way from the late Adam period back to the Adam and Eve period. If the architects don't know where to put their decorations to have them count, the advertisers surely know where to put their signs to have them read they use the undecorated side walls for the very simple and common sense reason that in any view up or down our streets side walls are all one sees.
Some future parking commission, some city beautiful committee, may give us endings for our streets and give us an ending of the sign nuisance, too; but in the meantime a very long and a very mean time, probably any conspicuous effort to treat all sides of a building with equal interest and provide a real visible roof in the bargain should deserve particular mention.
In the recently completed Bush Terminal Sales Building, in West 42d Street, Manhattan has acquired one of these rare architectural landmarks whose beauty is not likely soon to suffer eclipse. The new zoning law rang the death-knell of the sky-scraper, and there will be no more of these castles in the air, no more at least in the greater city, and if not here, then where else, pray, would any venturesome spirit aspire to produce them ?
When Mr. Irving T. Bush, president of the Bush Terminal Company, who, a quarter of a century ago, conceived the idea that later crystallized in the big terminal development now a model of its kind the world over, decided to extend his field of operations in Manhattan and erect a permanent exhibition building where manufacturers everywhere could show their goods in a distinctive and individual manner, he secured the services of Messrs. Helmle and Corbett, of Brooklyn, to design the building. The superb structure, generally conceded to be one of the finest in New York, shows how successfully they fulfilled their task.
Few modern sky buildings of, the sky-scraper class presented so many unusual problems in engineering, construction, and architectural treatment. Towering four hundred and fifty feet in the air, the tower portion covers but fifty by ninety feet of ground space, the smallest area of any building in the world for its height except the Washington Monument. To secure a substantial base for this mighty frame it was necessary to go down fifty feet below the street level before proper foundation was reached. Although the present building extends through the block to 41st Street with a nine-story extension over the rear portion, the building operation started on the front lot only and all the material for the entire tower was brought to the building through 42d Street, one of the busiest thoroughfares in the city, where traffic is never suspended night or day. It would seem as if the work of construction would have been hampered to an almost unbelievable extent under the restricted means of access, and yet, by having the steel for the structure fabricated, the stonework, brick, and terra-cotta in the yards ready for delivery before the foundation was finished, there was no delay whatever caused by lack of material nor any blocking of traffic either on street or sidewalk.
The unusual engineering feature of the work was to provide proper resistance to the overturning movement of the wind. This great strain naturally came across the fifty-foot width of the building, and there being no interior partitions in which to conceal diagonal struts, heavy reinforcements with strong knee-braces at the column points had to
be introduced. Also the necessity in the plan for a wider space at one point on the three lower floors than was possible to get between the regular column spaces was another
problem that came up for solution. Two columns, carrying a total of one thousand three hundred tons, resting on a pair of cross-girders seventy-two inches deep with a seventy-five-foot clear span, were added on the fourth level to meet this contingency.
Since any building ten times higher than it is wide is actually a tower, some special treatment of the upper portion was obligatory to give it the appropriate finish, and the tanks, chimneys, and pent-houses which disfigure the tops of most of our buildings had to be concealed within fittingly proportioned walls. In deciding upon a style of architecture for the building, the choice lay between one that would exaggerate the height or one that would diminish it. Distinction in building, like distinction in dress, comes from accentuating the natural peculiarities rather than in concealing or belittling them, so the Gothic was selected as the inspiration for the architectural treatment, although it is handled with a remarkably modern touch.
Built in the centre of a block, the side walls are blank as to windows, and no space could be sacrificed here for reveals, nor could any encroachments on neighboring property for projections be permitted. Yet these side walls were as conspicuous a part of the building as the front, if not more so, and some form of architectural embellishment that would bring them into harmony with the front, to dress them up, so to speak, and make them, with the front, an architectural unit, was demanded.
Since cornices or projections of any sort were not permissible on the sides, a scheme of design was chosen which required no projections on front, rear, or sides. Reveals, too, were impractical on the sides, so some device had to be discovered by which reveals could be simulated without sacrificing space or incurring undue expense. By the judicious use of a little "architectural camouflage," the colors being supplied by three tones of brick, the desired effect was obtained, and an entirely new and original treatment of side walls, so painfully neglected in most of our buildings, was evolved. Black brick was used for the shadows and white for the high lights, the result being quite as effective as though the accustomed architectural embellishments had been used, the light and shadow effect being worked out to correspond with the natural average angle of the sun.
The individuality and distinctive character of the building does not stop on the outside. The interior is quite as unique and original, and here again the plan, as well as the decoration, follows absolutely unconventional lines. Every floor above the third is an open exhibition space, divided by low rails, glass partitions, or booths, where the buyer can find every manufactured article under the sun on display and make his selection accordingly. The ground and second floor are for an International Buyers' Club, furnished and fitted like an old English manor-house, with a delightful background of panelled walls, beamed ceilings, and Jacobean furniture. A grand main entrance rising two full stories in height, with a richly carved ecclesiastical setting, is the coup de grace of the building, establishing at once in the mind of the visitor the correlation between its Gothic exterior and the fifteenth-century environment of the club-rooms.
Perhaps the most striking feature of the interior, both in the floors of the club and the merchants' exhibition floors as well, is the quiet harmony in color and the pleasing variety in the use of materials. In fact, the same distinctive note of complete unity which is so remarkably conspicuous in the entire exterior treatment has been carried into the interior with unusual skill and success.
|FRONT AND REAR ELEVATION|
|FIRST FLOOR PLAN|
|SECOND FLOOR PLAN|
|THIRD FLOOR PLAN|
|TYPICAL FLOOR PLAN - FOURTH THROUGH EIGHTH FLOORS|
|NINTH FLOOR PLAN|
|TENTH FLOOR PLAN|
|PLAN OF TWENTIETH AND TWENTY-FIRST FLOORS|
|PLAN OF TWENTY-SECOND THROUGH TWENTY-FIFTH FLOORS|
|PLAN OF TWENTY-SIXTH FLOOR|
|PLAN OF TWENTY-EIGHTH FLOOR|
|42nd street entrance|
|Staircase gallery, second floor|
|Detail, third floor|
|DETAIL IN ENTRANCE LOBBY, BUSH TERMINAL SALES BUILDING, WEST 42nd ST., NEW YORK. Helmle & Corbett, Architects.|
|ENTRANCE LOBBY, BUSH TERMINAL SALES BUILDING, WEST 42d ST., NEW YORK. Helmlc & Corbett, Architects.|
|STAIRCASE CONNECTING FIRST AND SECOND FLOORS|
|INTERNATIONAL BUYERS' CLUB, SECOND FLOOR|
|FIREPLACE, MERCHANTS' CLUB|
|BUSH TERMINAL SALES BUILDING|
|BUSH TERMINAL SALES BUILDING|
|BUSH TERMINAL SALES BUILDING|
|THE BUSH TERMINAL SALES BUILDING AT NIGHT|
|THE OFFICE BUILDING OF THE BUSH TERMINAL CO. 100 Broad Street, New York - Kirby, Petit & Green, Architects - 1906|
A JACOBEAN OFFICE BUILDING
Architectural Record - 1906
It is amusing to contrast a design such as that of the new building of the Bank of California with the design of the offices which have recently been erected for the Bush Terminal Company on Broad Street, New York, by Messrs. Kirby, Petit & Green. The problems of design presented by these two buildings were, of course, very different, except that the two sites both had frontages on three streets, and both were to be comparatively low buildings; but the difference in the two problems does not entirely account for the difference in the two results. Whatever doubts one may have as to the architectural propriety of introducing colossal colonnades on the narrow streets of a city, there can be no doubt at all as to the impropriety of turning an office building in a busy thoroughfare into a Jacobean manor-house. A house of this character, no matter how good it may be in itself, must necessarily look affected and out of place in the midst of a lot of office buildings; and when the offices of the Bush Terminal Company are surrounded, as they eventually will be by skyscrapers, the impropriety will become still more conspicuous. In such an environment the conscious affectation of its appearance will make the building almost trivial in effect. Its comparative insignificance in size instead of being discreetly passed over, will be emphasized. Jacobean garden fronts are all very well in their proper setting of lawn, trees, shrubbery and vines, but on Broad Street, New York City, their social situation is analogous to that of a little over-dressed English lord in a gathering of rough American cow-punchers.
BingStreetSide - The building no longer stands.