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Friday, January 26, 2007

The Police Building

The Police Building at 240 Centre Street: a "five-story Beaux-Arts palace, designed by the firm of Hoppin & Koen, is a dramatic heap of Baroque- and Renaissance-inspired domes, cupolas, colonnades, pilasters and pediments, caked with carved ornament and wedged into the narrow block once occupied by the butcher stalls of Centre Market." That's a mouthful, but pretty accurate. This place is reminiscent of a Parisian Hotel de Ville, although I think the comment I saw during the sales of units there that it's something like "finding the Invalides in the middle of the Marais" is a bit of a stretch - this area of little Italy / upper Chinatown is nothing like the Marais. The way this palatial building is tightly integrated into the streets does make it rather startling. The 1909 building was vacated by the police department in 1973. In 1987 it was converted to 56 luxury condominiums. The spaces were newly created - the original interior layout was not suited to residential conversion. Four apartments occupy the central dome (the former radio room, commissioner's office and a gymnasium) including a triplex. Steffi Graf owned a tower apartment, which was sold to Calvin Klein in 1998. This is one of the grandest residences in the city, on a par with the Dakota. A very unique living experience I am sure...

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have read that when it was a police station at the turn of the century the homeless slept standing up in the basement, propped up against ropes strung across the room. There is a photo in Luc Sante's Low Life I think -- and now it houses the ultimate luxury bedrooms in NYC...I envy whoever lives in the rotunda, the vews all around the city must be grand and all that light...

Anonymous said...

Looking at this building alway made me think of Paris. Ahhhh.

And, I do indeed envy the folks who get to "live in the dome". How cool is that?

Here in Seattle we have the Smith Tower, which was, upon completion, the tallest building West of the Mississippi. It has been lovingly restored through the years, and now, in addition to public spaces, offices and such, the entire top portion (if you look at a picture it'd be the multiple stories that look like a roof - the top 3 floors) is a super luxe private condominimum - with 360 degree views of all of Seattle, various mountain tanges and Puget Sound. Incredible!

http://www.birdseyetourist.com/?p=337

Anonymous said...

When I first saw it a couple years ago, I actually walked into the lobby thinking it was a public building. The attendants (yes, there were two) came up to me and said it was a private co-op. :-) I took a couple of pictures but none as manificient as yours. Great building, esp. the little private garden on the left corner of your first picture. I read somewhere that Cindy Crawford used to live there when she was married to Richard Gere.

Brian said...

In my opinion though, the neighborhood leaves much to be desired. Many of the small buildings do not have the architectural potential that other neighborhoods had (SOHO etc). It also abuts Chinatown, one of the most congested areas in the city. So it really is an oasis.
Brian

Anonymous said...

Very true! The neighborhood has very little character in par with this building. Even the three or four new condos in the area look pitiful and cheap. I bet parking in the area is a nightmare.

Anonymous said...

The photographs of the past few days have been truly wonderful in their quality and variety, Brian.

Oh, and thanks for introducing me to the Elizabeth Street Gallery and the Rubin Museum of Art. Can't wait to visit on my next trip to New York!

Very best wishes for 2007.

Jack Saban said...

Le batiment magnifique un côté "Grand siècle", très belle architecture
jack

Eva Lake said...

I just wrote of when I onced showed in this building. In the basement was the jail or prison. It was not all vamped up or restored yet when CoLab exhibited in 1988. But the models had moved in.

Anonymous said...

In the late 1980's or early 90's I toured the Police Building. The apartment with the dome and outside patios was in the process of being remolded, at that time the asking price was $2,400,000, Even in that raw state it was remarkable.