Tammany Hall Receives a Rooftop Expansion that Honors Its Namesake, the Lenape Chief Tamanend

1st Place, Addition

44 Union Square sits prominently at the northeast corner of Manhattan’s Union Square Park. Repurposed as a 70,200-square-foot Class A commercial building, with dramatic changes unanimously approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the reinvented building commands attention.

Its former life as the final headquarters for the powerful Tammany Hall political organization is apparent in its preserved façades—from the original modest neo-Georgian brick, limestone and terra cotta. However, the captivating rooftop expansion evokes a deeper history, serving as a living monument to the indigenous Lenape people. By expanding vertically with a glass and steel parametric dome bearing the likeness of a turtle shell, the building acquired 30,000 square feet of usable space and has become a beacon in Union Square.

PHOTOS: Christopher Payne; HISTORIC PHOTO: NYPL Archives; BEFORE and DURING PHOTOS: CIG DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHERS | RALPH D’ANGELO

The origins of Tammany Hall as a populist organization include its namesake, the legendary Lenape Chief Tamanend. Early in the design stage, BKSK Architects LLP initiated an ongoing consultation with founding members of the Lenape Center to bring an authentic, legitimate voice and representation to the concept of a dome addition inspired by the Lenape creation story of a great turtle rising from the sea. While respectful of the building’s historic character, the organic domed intervention provocatively yields insight into the underlying social history of the building.

The building was designated as a New York City Landmark in 2013 for possessing “a special character, special historical and aesthetic interest, and value as part of the development, heritage, and cultural characteristics” of the city. The restoration/expansion includes a sensitive 3-story façade restoration; the addition of historically accurate bronze and limestone storefronts in the likeness of the original 1928 design; and a 3-story rooftop addition, composed of a self-supporting free-form grid dome atop a hipped roof of steel, glass and terra-cotta sunshades.

Rigorous research was conducted to select the glass for the dome, which provides climate and light control while offering clear views from inside to the park and beyond. Solar insolation, light infiltration, glare probability studies, as well as investigation of glass dome precedents informed the glass mapping over the dome structure and the development of sunshades and other glass shading solutions. Its assembly required a 14-step process to manage the crane-set installation of each of the 54 uniquely designed and sized primary steel members and more than 750 unique glass pieces. The resulting tribute to the Lenape community cloaks a space that is both dramatic and inspiring for all who enter.

The preservation project was a challenging undertaking, requiring the decoupling of the north and west façades with their antique foundations from the building structure, isolating these exteriors and reinforcing them in place with a concrete flat-plate floor system before demolishing the remaining building from the top down. The expertly managed restoration work on the landmark façades included complete brick repointing and select replacement; terra-cotta rehabilitation; and repairs to the original building’s roofline, including brick parapets and limestone balustrades, balusters and rails. A new building core structure was constructed, which doubled the building’s height to 6 stories and expanded tenant space by 30,000 square feet. This core was reattached to the landmark façade floor-by-floor. After the reattachment, the building was then capped with the remarkable turtle-shaped parametric dome, which required reinforced concrete shear walls and a fourth-floor concrete corbel to support the new loads.

The redevelopment of Tammany Hall creates a meaningful visual dialogue between contemporary and historic architecture and accommodates change, as well as vertical expansion with historic integrity and a fresh narrative. Capping off the collaboration, the finished project was blessed in a traditional Lenape ceremony acknowledging and honoring past and future occupants of the site.

The unexpected juxtaposition heightens the perception of the building’s significance, animates the corner of Union Square in a way it never was, and evokes connections to history that are important to both understand and acknowledge.

“Beautiful restoration and interesting rooftop addition. The story and space created are compelling. I can see this being a local landmark for the community.”

Howard Hirsch, AIA, LEED AP, founder and president, Hirsch MPG LLC, Metamorphosis Awards Judge

Retrofit Team

METAMORPHOSIS AWARD WINNER and ARCHITECT: BKSK Architects LLP

  • Todd Poisson, AIA, partner-in-charge
  • Harry Kendall, AIA, LEED AP, collaborating partner
  • Joe Hogan, project manager

OWNER: Reading International RDI

OWNER’S REPRESENTATIVE: Edifice Real Estate Partners

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Thornton Tomasetti

EXTERIOR ENVELOPE ENGINEER: Buro Happold

MEP ENGINEER: Dagher Engineering

EXTERIOR LIGHTING: Atelier Ten

ENERGY AND COMMISSIONING SERVICES: OLA Consulting Engineers

GEOTECH ENGINEER: RA Engineering

CONSTRUCTION MANAGER: CNY

DOME STEEL AND GLASS FABRICATOR/INSTALLER: Josef Gartner, a division of Permasteelisa

HISTORIC PRESERVATION CONSULTANT: Higgins Quasebarth & Partners LLC

CLIENT COMMUNITY RELATIONS CONSULTANT: Capalino

Materials

DESIGN SOFTWARE: Rhino 3D, V-Ray by Chaos Group, Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Revit

CLEAR AND TINTED GLASS: Eckelt, a member of Saint-Gobain

  • Clear Float Glass Panel: PLANICLEAR
  • Tinted Gray Panel: Parsol Grey
  • Solar Coating: COOL-LITE XTREME

CAMBRIDGE AND GEORGIAN CUSTOM BRICKS: Glen-Gery

BALMORAL STANDARD FULL-BED BRICKS: Consolidated Brick

GLASS SAMPLING VIEWING: Cherry Hill Glass Co. Inc.

IRON: Papp Iron Works Inc.

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