Once the 700-room Barbizon Hotel for women the project entailed converting the building into a luxury condominium apartment building with approximately 66 units. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the design challenge was to convey a sense of Upper East Side grandeur on a traffic-choked intersection. First, the core of the building occupied a great deal of space, it was critical to reclaim this space to improve the layouts for the apartments. The approach was to demolish the existing core and replace it with a side mounted elevator machine room and a scissor stair system. By doing this, the developer gained $23 million of additional sellable square footage.
Construction Tasks & Challenges
The logistical and construction phasing of the project proved the most challenging for the team, not only because of the existing tenants, but also due to a lack of information about the existing building systems. One of the first obstacles that the project team overcame involved the “blind” demolition of the existing utilities. With no riser diagrams from the original building, or its several modifications, the team traced all existing utility lines and services through the building in order to identify what to remove and what would remain.
The phasing plan entailed an approach that essentially built the project twice. The plan consisted of demolishing one vertical half of the building’s core in order to accommodate two new elevators while keeping the existing stairwell and freight elevator operational for the tenants. Once the new elevators were online, the team removed the existing stairwell and freight elevator, and then installed a new stairwell and freight elevator.