A new exhibit opening today in New York City hopes to prove that when it comes to landmarked architecture, it's not just the exterior that counts—interiors are also significant and incredibly beautiful. The New York School of Interior Design's spring show, "Rescued, Restored, Reimagined: New York's Landmark Interiors " compiles over 80 archival and newly-commissioned photos of the the city's landmarked interiors, including plenty of splendid Art Deco entrances and Classical bank lobbies, plus a few glassy, more modern spaces.
"Interiors are sometimes out of sight, but they should not be out of mind," NYSID President David Sprouls says in a press release. By pulling together examples of important interiors that were rescued from the wrecking ball (Curbed NY spotlighted those big saves here), or otherwise restored and rejuvenated through new uses, the show also wants visitors to start thinking about which modern interiors should get landmark protection next. Below, a selection of fabulous, perhaps lesser-known, spaces that have been preserved so far:
↑ ↓ Dime Savings Bank
Designed by bank specialists Mowbray & Uffinger and built in 1908, this institution was, according to NYSID, the busiest savings bank in the early 20th century. By the 1930s, it had gone through two expansions. Designated a NYC landmark in 1994, the building features a rotunda supported by 12 marble columns adorned with large dimes. Currently owned by JPMorgan Chase, the bank may soon be sold for retail use.
↑ ↓ Della Robbia Bar
Built in 1913, this underground bar was originally part of the double-height Della Robbia Grill restaurant at Vanderbilt Hotel (now an apartment building). The space, famous for its vaulted ceiling of Guastavino tiles and ornamental tiles by Cincinnati's Rookwood Pottery Company, was left intact even as most of the restaurant was turned into a garage in the '60s. Today, it's a part of Wolfgang's Steakhouse.
↑ Williamsburg Savings Bank (One Hanson Place)
Dating back to 1875, the 37-story Classical style building was once the tallest building in Brooklyn. After it was sold in 2010, new owners began restoring the interior, including the elaborate dome paintings in the lobby, an 1875 French-import vault door, and a 1911 birdcage elevator. Today, the upper levels of the building has been converted into luxury condos, and the grand lobby hosts weddings and special events like the Brooklyn Flea.
↑ ↓ Manufacturers Trust Company Building
This 1954 glass-and-aluminum structure by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was a huge departure from the Classical-style bank buildings typical of the time. Though the interior was designated a landmark in 2011, new owners of the place had commissioned SOM to retrofit the building by splitting the space into two and rotating existing elevators. Preservationists then took it to court and won a settlement that brought back a big highlight of the original interior: a large metal screen and hanging sculpture by artist Harry Bertoia, on indefinite loan from JPMorgan Chase, which owned the building in the 2000s. The space now hosts stores for fashion brands Joe Fresh and Elie Tahari.
↑ ↓ Cunard Building
Back in the early 1900s, this 65-foot-high domed and vaulted space was the ticketing area for the Cunard Steamship Company. As NYSID details, the "central dome and two flanking groin vaults are covered with intricate polychrome murals by Ezra Winter, with images of mythical and historical figures, vessels, and sea creatures." The hall served as a post office between 1977 and 2000. After sitting vacant for 14 years, the space was restored and reopened as a luxury event venue in 2014.
↑ Film Center Building
The first floor of Ely Jacques Kahn's Film Center Building hides one of the few surviving Art Deco interiors in the city. The entrance and lobby features walls wrapped in black-and-silver bands, vibrant mosaics, and gold geometric ceilings. Today, the building still hosts businesses in the film and audio production industry.
↑ RKO Keith's Flushing Theatre
This "Spanish Baroque" style venue lasted fifty years after its completion in 1928. Though its lobby and grand foyer was designated a landmark interior in 1984, parts of it were destroyed when a developer tried to convert the space into a shopping center. The building has been abandoned for the last 30 years, but according to the NYSID, a new owner has started restoring the interior as part of a new luxury residential building.
↑ Long Distance Building, American Telephone & Telegraph Company
The irregularly-shaped first floor lobby of this 27-story skyscraper (now the AT&T Long Distance building) features extensive Art Deco detailing to match the building's exterior. Along with a tiled map of the world, additional murals and decorative elements appear to be abstract representations of the vast distances covered by telephone lines and radio waves.
↑ Ford Foundation
At the center of the massive cube-like Ford Foundation headquarters is this 12-story atrium, which features vegetated terraces that follow the topography of the site. According to NYSID, this is the youngest designated interior in the city.
↑ ↓ Surrogate's Court
Architect John R. Thomas originally designed these elaborate interiors for a proposed new City Hall, but the building ultimately became a Hall of Records, with courtrooms occupying the upper levels. NYSID says the place has recently gone through some upgrades and repairs by the New York-based firm Swanke Hayden Connell Architects.
· "Rescued, Restored, Reimagined: New York's Landmark Interiors" [New York School of Interior Design]
· What It Takes to Restore a 1929 Brooklyn 'Wonder Theater' [Curbed NY]
· All preservation coverage [Curbed National]