August 23, 2017

Reviving Beauty: The Woolworth Tower

Long one of the most beloved buildings in the New York City skyline, Frank Woolworth's cathedral of commerce is getting a new lease on life.

by Deborah L. Martin

Woolworth Tower
Alchemy Properties restored or recreated over 3,500 of the original terra cotta tiles on the façade of Woolworth Tower Residences. The rich colors can be seen from inside the apartments, adding to the sense of history. Photograph courtesy Alchemy Properties.
The living room and master bedroom of apartment 38A, by Alan Tanksley, are elegantly appointed, with bespoke floor coverings, a serene palette, and sophisticated, hand-printed wallpapers.
The living room (below) and master bedroom of apartment 38A, by
Alan Tanksley, are elegantly appointed, with bespoke floor coverings, a
serene palette, and sophisticated, hand-printed wallpapers.
Photograph by Kelly Marshall.

FROM 1913 TO 1930, the Woolworth Tower, at 60 storeys, was the highest man-made point in the world. The towers that sprouted up around it eventually dwarfed—but never matched—the spectacularly beautiful, handmade ornamentation of the building representing the Woolworth retail empire.

Enter Alchemy Properties, who purchased the iconic building in 2012, and is converting the top floors to luxury apartments. Kenneth Horn, Alchemy Properties' president and founder was recently honored by the Historic District Council for his meticulous restoration of the building, including the restoration or recreation of over 3,500 terra cotta tiles that line the building's exterior. Says Horn, "We knew it was incumbent upon us to treat Woolworth Tower like the icon that it is. We wanted to make sure that the residences reflect the elegance of the building, while bringing it into the 21st century."

The living room and master bedroom of apartment 38A, by Alan Tanksley, are elegantly appointed, with bespoke floor coverings, a serene palette, and sophisticated, hand-printed wallpapers.
Interior design: Alan Tanksley; Photograph by Kelly Marshall.

Architect Thierry W. Despont created the elegant interior architecture for the residences and amenity spaces, paying homage to architect Cass Gilbert's original neo-gothic design. In June, Alchemy and Sotheby's International Realty revealed the 38th floor model apartments designed by Alan Tanksley and Eve Robinson.

Woolworth Tower model apartment by Eve Robinson
Eve Robinson’s palette was derived from the richly-toned terra cotta tiles, visible in each window. The living room (above) and master bedroom (below) mix vintage and contemporary furnishings, and the mix of textures—velvet, mohair, silks—adds to the level of detail in the luxurious space. Photograph by Travis Mark.
Eve Robinson at Woolworth Tower
Master bedroom by Eve Robinson.

Tanksley created a serene and sensuous three-bedroom, punctuated by modern art, and Robinson designed a two-bedroom contemporary that shares the floor. Says Robinson, "I took my inspiration for the palette from the
terra cotta tiles visible at every window." Stan Ponte, Senior Global Real Estate Advisor of Sotheby's says, "When you enter the residences you have an immediate sense of history. We are selling architectural artwork." When the project is complete there will be up to 33 apartments on the top 30 floors of the tower. The residences will also have luxury amenities such as The Woolworth Pool, an exclusive entertainment salon called The Gilbert Lounge, a fitness center, and a wine cellar and tasting room.

Master bath by eve robinson
Master bath by Eve Robinson.

*Interested in more articles like this? Sign up for our Newsletter!

Join New York Spaces' Weekly Newsletter.

Subscribe