Skyline blights: New York’s ugliest building finally gets its glassy update

Posted On Fri, September 16, 2016 By

Posted On Fri, September 16, 2016 By In Architecture, Construction Update, Financial District

The former Verizon Building at 375 Pearl Street has long been considered one of New York City’s ugliest buildings. The oppressive structure was erected in 1975 and climbs 540 feet into the sky. While the height is almost negligible compared to some of the supertalls rising today, the tower’s prime skyline positioning amongst some of the world’s most celebrated architectural creations has done nothing to help shroud its banal facade. In fact, when the telephone switching center opened its doors for the first time more than 40 years ago, New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger described it as the Verizon’s “most disturbing” addition to the city (though in defense of the architects Rose, Beaton & Rose, it was built to withstand severe weather and attacks and protect the critical telecommunications infrastructure within). But all of that is changing now, as the building’s fortress-like facade is in the midst of receiving a long due makeover.

Verizon-Building-off-the-Brooklyn-Bridge-375-Peral-Street-4

Verizon-Building-off-the-Brooklyn-Bridge-375-Peral-Street-6

The 32-story tower is currently owned by Sabey Data Center Properties and the company commenced updates in January this year. As seen in the images taken by 6sqft, the building is trading out some of its limestone bands and slender three-foot wide windows for floor-to-ceiling glass curtain walls across the top of its four faces—although the upper east-facing wall is seeing the most dramatic of these changes.

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Verizon-Building-off-the-Brooklyn-Bridge-375-Peral-Street-3

Verizon-Building-off-the-Brooklyn-Bridge-375-Peral-Street

Verizon ditched the building back in 2007, selling it to Taconic Partners for $172 million. Taconic said it would transform the facade with glass after the purchase, but four years later the company sold off ownership to Sabey Data Centers and Young Woo and Associates for $120 million. Now eight years after Verizon vacated, the current owners are finally moving forward with the makeover.

With 1.1 million square feet within, the tower will eventually be used as office space (15 floors worth) by various businesses and government agencies. This will be in addition to its current use as a data storage center. In January, The Real Deal reported that the NYC’s Department of Finance would take on 175,000 square feet of space on the 26th through 30th floors.

Construction is expected to wrap later this year.

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Neighborhoods : Financial District

  • David G. Imber

    I live near this building, and have never understood the animus lodged against it. For some reason, at some point, some entity declared it “NY’s ugliest building”, and others have lazily picked up the cudgel. It’s not an attractive building, and as far as I can see, the renovation is not helping. But ugliest? Please! There is _so much_ freaking competition for that title, this building has never even been in the top five unless sheer size and position on the skyline are mixed into the criteria, and even then it’s questionable. Lazy journalism – that’s ugly.

    • wright gregson

      I think every city has a building with the “ugliest” label attached to it when, in fact, it is not an accurate label. Here in Boston, it is often the “Prudential Building” when in fact, the hideous, banal Tremont on the Common apartment building is a much more worthy candidate.

      • David G. Imber

        I love Boston and have spent a lot of time there with architect friends. The building that weathers the most public excoriation from their perspective seems to be city hall. And yet, I see a great deal of character in it. I think that’s why I object so strenuously to the “ugliest” tag being summarily applied in print.

        • wright gregson

          hmmm I know of the city hall’s reputation, but I, who dislikes Brutalism intensely find a few buildings of that style at least interesting and I like city hall. but the process that begat the city hall was a disaster—–the whole sale obliteration of the entire West End. Just down from City Hall, on Cambridge St is another interesting example of Paul Rudoph”s work, the H.E.W. building—-the one with hand–distressed hammered concrete panels.

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