The landmarked 120 Broadway, also know as the Equitable Building, has undergone a two-year, $50 million renovation. We were pleased to be invited to take a look inside, from the historic Banker’s Club space on the 40th floor to the newly created mural project on the third floor, and beautifully restored lobby. Come along, as we take in the new, while reflecting on the old.
The top three floors of 120 Broadway were once the home to the historic Banker’s Club – a place where world leaders dined in private dining rooms ~ and where U.S. Presidents met with Wall Street’s elite seated in red leather chairs under brass chandeliers in front of a marble fireplace. The club included a Ticker Tape Room, where stock tape continuously ran, keeping members current. Throughout the 1920s and on through the 1950s, the membership topped 2,500, with such notable guests as Charles de Gaulle, Winston Churchill and even Queen Elizabeth II.
By 1979, membership loomed around 1,000, and unable to support itself, the club decided not to renew its lease. It was the end of an era, since many financial groups had moved uptown, and many bankers patronized other private dining clubs.
Today, stepping off the elevator on the 40th floor, the newly renovated 20,000 square foot space known as The Banker’s Club features an 8,000 square-foot indoor lounge, a cafe’, a food hall, and a large, newly built outdoor landscaped rooftop deck, all available to tenants. The task of returning the public spaces to its original splendor ~ with all the modern conveniences ~ was given to the architectural firm, Beyer Blinder Belle, and the creative art and colorful décor throughout The Bankers Club was handled in-house by Silverstein Properties.
Front and center as guests/tenants step off the elevator on the 40th floor is a mural of the Banker’s Club logo, created on an entire wall by artist Chinòn Maria of Sokoki Studios. Her unique style of enhancing vintage images with her signature bold color, along with her love of history brings a stunningly vibrant touch throughout the entire space. For this featured image, appearing as three-panels, her work is an ode to the Ticker Tape Parades that passed right in front of 120 Broadway since the late 1800s.
The first Ticker Tape Parade was held on October 28, 1886 when President Grover Cleveland was present to dedicate the Statue of Liberty. Best described by Today in Conservation, “When the parade following the statue’s dedication wound its way through New York’s financial district on Manhattan Island, observers from offices high above the street began a spontaneous response—they threw ticker-tape from their windows. Ticker tape was the one-inch wide strip of paper that clicked continuously out of a ticker-tape machine, showing the instantaneous value of stocks being traded on the stock market. The tape fed out of the machines and gathered in piles on the floor. Onlookers decided that showering the parade with the paper strips would make a fitting tribute.”
The newly renovated Banker’s Club space is a rooftop retreat for all building tenants. The curated food hall is managed by Great Performances and features a designated James Beard Foundation executive chef with seasonal and permanent food stations, a gourmet grab & go cafe’, a cocktail bar and even a private event space. Yes, tenants may have food delivered directly to their desks.
In the seating area, framed vintage images of the Equitable building and surrounding area are splashed with the artists’ magical paintings, and surround the large, comfortable space (images above). Remnants of history are found on walls and shelves throughout, including detailed historic tidbits, giving a full context to the images.
Best said by Silverstein Properties Chairman, Larry A. Silverstein, “The Bankers Club has been around almost as long as I have. Back in the day, it was the place to see and be seen for heads of state and the Wall Street elite. It is very exciting to see it open again for a completely different audience – the young, creative people who work in and visit our building.”
Moving further into this space, a wall featuring framed images from the Liberty Bond era hang from floor to ceiling over a vintage mural.
The new Banker’s Club space will also include related programing ~ INSPIRE Your Day, with food and travel talks, happy hours, film screenings and fitness classes.
Stepping back into the elevator, we were delighted to stop on the third floor where Silverstein Properties commissioned several artist’s to create murals throughout the enormous loft-like, and currently un-leased space.
This mural project is ongoing, and we hope to touch base with the third floor again, when more work is completed.
Mural above by Brazilian artist, Tito Ferrara.
Silverstein Properties is not new to providing a canvas for artists. Larry Silverstein has long felt that art brings “vitality, excitement and dimension’ to locations.” After 9/11, Silverstein invited artists to work in vacant spaces around the World Trade Center site.
In 2017, with so many artist’s having lost their studios, about 60 artists were invited to use the 69th floor of 4 World Trade Center as a canvas. The end result was a stunningly creative 34,000 square feet of space (now occupied by Spotify), overlooking the 9/11 Memorial.
As Silverstein Properties continued to rebuild, artist’s were commissioned to paint on construction fencing in and around the 2WTC and 3WTC construction lots. Now completed, The Mural Project has become an art destination alongside The Oculus.
Above and below, artist @Hazardone creates on the left, right, and above, as we look past to walls which will become a canvas to new artists next week.
@beaustanton will design a 42-foot mural along the back wall (above) to be completed in January, 2020 ~ and the artist, @layercake will take a wall in early 2020, along with @Grimace; @PabloAncona; @SebastianDauchez; and @SamMeyerson collaborating on a second wall.
The lobby renovation has worked to keep the integrity of the original building, which was completed in 1915, by bringing back replications of the original chandeliers with new LED technology. The 34-foot green marble entryway has been replaced by a bronze grille over glass inspired by the original 1915 design – flooding the lobby with natural light. New exterior lighting and a restoration of the original limestone and terra-cotta facade.
When 120 Broadway was built, it was the largest office building in the world by floor area ~ designed by Ernest R. Graham, the successor to D.H. Burnham & Company, with Peirce Anderson as the architect-in-charge. In several historical documents, it is written that the 40-story building is, in fact, 38 stories. There were a number of mechanical floors that have been converted to office floors since the landmark literature was written. There are indeed 40-stories, plus a mechanical 41st floor above ground.
Three-stories are below ground. And in referencing what’s below ground, it is interesting to note that there were vaults in the basement level. It is thought that the “Safe Deposit Company of New York” ~ medallion (image above) on view in the concourse ~ was a tenant in the building using the basement vaults.
Here’s a little ‘fun-fact’ ~ as part of the repositioning of the building, Silverstein Properties designed a custom typeface inspired by the inscription on the Vault in the basement. The typeface is aptly named, “Equitable.”
We spotted two beautiful paintings in the lobby. Above, artist Leon Kroll, ‘Building Manhattan.’ Kroll (1884-1974), who studied at Art Students League, exhibited at the famous 1913 Armory Show.
Below, Nova Scotia-born artist Jack Lorimer Gray’s painting, “Brooklyn Bridge with New York Skyline” portrays the setting he viewed when he painted the series of works of which this painting is a part. Gray moved to New York in the mid-1950s, where he maintained a studio on a boat.
120 Broadway is bordered by Cedar, Nassau and Pine Streets, and occupies an entire city block. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978 and a New York City Landmark in 1996. Landlord, Silverstein Properties hired architectural firm and building tenant, Beyer Blinder and Belle (BBB) to oversee the building-wide renovation.