FINANCIAL DISTRICT, NY — A historic room within the 50-story skyscraper One Wall Street is currently undergoing a museum-grade renovation, as the former office tower is converted into condos.
One Wall Street is the largest office-to-condo conversion in New York City, according to Macklowe Properties, which scooped up the landmarked tower in 2014.
The building’s two-story lobby space at the building’s One Wall Street entrance features the “Red Room” — a historic room with some 9,000 square feet of red, orange and gold glass tile mosaics, designed by muralist Hildreth Meière in 1931.
“It is a wonderfully inventive, surprising space,” said Tom Mellins, an architectural historian consulting Macklowe Properties on the renovations. “It’s almost, in a sense, a kind of stage set.”
Under the ongoing conversion process to condos, the historic room is in the midst of a 16-month, $1 million restoration process, according to the company. Workers are mending damaged tile and grouting and shining them in a painstaking process.
Meière’s other work was commissioned in Radio City Music Hall, St. Bartholomew’s Church, Temple Emanu-El and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, according to the International Hildreth Meière Association. Her work is known for blending Byzantine mosaics, Egyptian wall painting, classical Greek vase painting and Native American beadwork. In her works, she often mixed ceramic tiles with metals and stained glass.
The Red Room is likely to become a retail space once completely restored as soon as 2021.
The tower itself — located at Broadway and Wall Street — was designed by Ralph Walker in 1931 and was used as office space for banking institutions, from the Irving Trust Company to the Bank of New York, and most recently, the Mellon Financial Corporation, according to a Curbed report from 2014. It was later expanded in 1963, per Macklowe.
For Mellins, the Art Deco skyscraper is among the more under-appreciated in the city’s skyline.
“Ralph Walker was really instrumental in the evolution of the skyscraper design,” Mellins said. The way Walker designed One Wall Street, said Mellins, “didn’t just stand alone, but it responded to the street in a sensitive way.”
“Also, at least for some people, it almost looks like a work of nature” by the way in which the towers various setbacks and terraces cascade downwards.
“I think it immediately commands our attention,” he said.