Wednesday, June 17, 2009

20 Exchange: the details, man, the details

One of my favorite buildings in the NYC is 20 Exchange Place, recently called Wall Street Tower (although it’s a block away from Wall Street), and formerly known as the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the City Bank Farmers’ Trust Company, and the First National City Trust Company. Bounded by Beaver, William, Exchange, & Hanover, the building was designed by Cross & Cross, the firm responsible for another favorite, the original GE Building (RCA Victor) on Lexington & 51st. Like that one, it’s a slim tower with chamfered sides on a big base, and it has delightful details.
20 Exchange was completed in 1931. It’s base is roughly triangular, taking into account the medieval street pattern of lower Manhattan, and the tower, stepped back as per the 1916 zoning law, is skewed from some angles. At the top of the base, which is something like 14 stories, there are these enormous Art Deco (Streamlined Assyrian?) faces, guardians of finance, I suppose.
The doors on the corner of Exchange and William and then over in the middle of the Hanover side are some kind of nickle alloy with designs of forms of transportation. The revolving doors have curved covers of the same material.
Huge coins of the world adorn the Exchange Street entrance. This is what I passed through everyday when I worked here in 2000-2001 for a dot-bomb called Agency. We had a cafeteria and lay-off meeting space at the top of the tower. The views of the harbor, downtown, and the East River were incredible from up there, but our work floors were in the wider base, which didn't give us much to look out except for davening orthodox across the way (boring!). From the top, the World Trade Center felt like it was within hand’s reach. I’d quite a month before 9/11, but I later heard of a couple early-to-work guys who were in the cafeteria as the WTC billowed smoke.

No comments: