The Real Deal New York

Fairchild Publications Building to get big boost from NYU expansion

NYU vastly improves Greenwich Village building for School of Continuing and Professional Studies

August 11, 2011 12:05PM
By James Gardner

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Fairchild Publications Building rendering at 7 East 12th Street

East 12th Street has just gotten a little better than it used to be.
The Fairchild Publications Building, which has occupied the site of 7
East 12th Street since 1948, has been fundamentally transformed by the
architectural firm of Mitchell/Giurgola Architects into the new and
luminous home of New York University’s School of Continuing and
Professional Studies. The university’s fourth largest graduate school
and fifth largest undergraduate college, it is currently located at
Cooper Square but is already moving in to its new digs. The move will
enable the university to consolidate in one building what is now
scattered across nine buildings.

Coinciding with NYU’s 2031 expansion plans, the 122,000-square-foot,
12-story building was purchased from Capital Cities/ABC, which is the
parent company of Fairchild Publications, who owns W and Women’s Wear
Daily, and who relocated to 7 West 34th Street in 1990.

The original building was designed by Wallace K. Harrison and Max
Abramovitz in 1948. Their firm, which was perhaps the most visible in
New York in the second third of the 20th century, was responsible for
everything from the first incarnation of Rockefeller Center and
Lincoln Center to the United Nations headquarters. For much of their
careers they practiced an austerely rationalistic modernism, which was
fully evident in both the interior and the façade of the old Fairchild
Publications Building. The façade, rising over a recessed base, was an
affair of horizontal ribbon windows alternating with darker layers of
infill, while the inside lobby was likewise rationalistic and dark.
Viewed historically, this building, like others designed by this firm,
was a major step in the creation of that default modernism that
banalized the brilliance of the Bauhaus and left New York a far
drearier place.

We should be happy then that in its reincarnation, the Fairchild
Publications Building looks so much better than the original. Rather
than the strip windows and infill, there is now a unified and
transparent curtainwall of lustrous glass, with a cantilevered canopy,
also of glass, over the entrance on the left as you enter. The façade,
which is framed with what look like stone accents on either side, is
inflected with metal flanges at various points across its surface.
Even the interior, to judge from the renderings, is greatly improved.
There seems to be much promise in one space, a duplex atrium pierced
by a stairway that looks to be filled with light. If this has any
evidentiary value, even the bright young men and women in the
watercolor rendering look happy and enlightened to be there.

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