Jacques Ely Kahn-Designed Manufacturing Building City’s Newest Individual Landmark

The Holland Plaza Building, 75 Varick Street, Manhattan. Image Credit: LPC.

The Holland Plaza Building, 75 Varick Street, Manhattan. Image Credit: LPC.

Modern classical structure, completed in 1930, was built as part of an industrial development of the area following the opening of the Holland Tunnel. On August 6, 2013, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate the Holland Plaza Building, at 75 Varick Street in Manhattan, as an individual landmark. The 1930 building was designed by Jacques Ely Kahn, a prolific New York-based architect who was also responsible for the Municipal Asphalt Plant, and the interior of the Film Center Building, both designated as City landmarks. The structure occupies an irregular, triangle-shaped block bounded by Varick, Canal and Watts Streets.

The building stands at 18 stories tall, and is characterized by its stark structural grid.

Developer Abe Adelson, a frequent patron of Kahn’s, commissioned the building. The neighborhood underwent a period of rapid industrial growth when the Holland tunnel, which opened in 1929, made the area a transportation hub. The early Modern building clearly reads as industrial, with little external ornamentation. The building’s style comes from emphasis on its structural grid with its interplay of masonry vertical piers and horizontal textured spandrels, projecting rusticated piers at the pedestrian entrances.

Holland Plaza BuildingAt the June 11, 2013 public hearing, Jason Pizer, President of Trinity Real Estate, which owns the property, testified in support of designation of building. He called the building the “flagship” of Trinity’s commercial property. Pizer noted that the area had recently been rezoned at Trinity’s impetus, which imposed height restrictions in the area. He also noted that their offices in the Holland Plaza Building were LEED Gold-certified. The Historic Districts Council’s Nadezhda Williams called the building one of Kahn’s “great works,” and “an important chapter in 20th century New York City architecture.”

At the August 6, 2013 Landmarks meeting, Commissioners were unanimous in voting to designate the building. Vice Chair Pablo Vengoechea called the structure “a great building by a great architect,” while Commissioner Michael Devonshire said its “architectonics are just remarkable.” Commissioner Michael Goldblum found that the building managed to merge European and American architecture of its era, drawing on both Viennese decorative precedents and American engineering. Chair Robert B. Tierney called the building a “masterpiece,” thanked Trinity for its cooperation, and said the designation was the product of a “constructive partnership” with the organization.

LPC: Holland Plaza Building, 75 Varick Street, Manhattan (LP-2537) (Aug. 6, 2013).

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