A Tall Order

A Tall Order

Larry Silverstein’s plans to transform downtown into New York’s next Class-A business/cultural/residential/hospitality neighborhood have long been in the works. This morning he filled in yet another piece of the puzzle. At a breakfast at Cipriani Wall Street, the president and CEO of Silverstein Properties announced that Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has agreed to operate a hotel and condominium development at 99 Church Street, a mere two blocks from the World Trade Center site. The agreement with Four Seasons solidified funding for the project and Tishman Construction is scheduled to begin erecting the new structure in June, with completion expected in early 2011. 

Silverstein also unveiled renderings of the project, which is being designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. At 80 stories and approximately 912 feet tall, the limestone- and cast stone-clad building will be the tallest residential structure in New York when it is complete. It will also be about 120 feet taller than the Woolworth Building, Cass Gilbert’s ineluctable 1913 Gothic Revival skyscraper, on whose block it sits. This proximity raised concerns from many observers, who worried that the taller building will overwhelm this icon of New York architecture. “I think it’s a good neighbor,” Robert Stern told AN. “It will be taller, but it’s like in color, and its fenestration pattern and needlelike shape are comparable to the Woolworth Building’s.” 

Prior to the release of the renderings, observers also questioned whether the new development would follow the glass-clad uber-modernism of the World Trade Center towers or if it would defer its vocabulary to a previous generation of New York skyscrapers, exemplified by the Woolworth Building. Stern’s response seems to ride this line. “It’s modern in that it’s up to date, but it’s not modernist,” he said. “On the other hand, it’s not in any way intending to be a Gothic building. It will have a strong but subtle presence on the skyline and, I hope, provide a good transition.” 

A landscaped public plaza will run behind the building between Park and Barclay streets. Also, all of the project’s amenities (lounge, restaurant, health club, spa) will be accessible from the street on the first four floors. ROBERT A.M. STERN ARCHITECTS / COURTESY SILVERSTEIN PROPERTIES

Occupying the first 22 floors of the building, the hotel will consist of 175 rooms, a restaurant, lounge, and spa and health club with a 75-foot pool. The residential portion of the building, consisting of 143 luxury condos, will share these amenities, and Four Seasons services will be available to homeowners. The project will also add a landscaped through-block public plaza between Park and Barclay streets. 

The project will rise on the former location of Moody’s Corporation. In November 2006 Silverstein purchased the 441,000-square-foot building, built by Moody’s in 1951, for $170 million. Moody’s subsequently moved its headquarters to Silverstein’s 7 World Trade Center. Demolition began in October 2007. 

This project is only one among many new residential and hotel projects underway in Lower Manhattan. According to the Downtown Alliance, which advocates for business and property owners in the area, more than 5,400 new residential units are in development and more than 3,700 new hotel rooms are currently under construction or planned. The alliance also estimates that 1.27 million unique hotel guests will stay downtown beginning in 2009. 


This diagram, which faces north, shows the sections of the building devoted to various uses. ROBERT A.M. STERN ARCHITECTS / COURTESY SILVERSTEIN PROPERTIES

Stern designed the building’s fenestration pattern to resemble that of the Woolworth Building’s. It is also similar in color and in profile.