This through-block redevelopment in the Ladies’ Mile Historic District was built on a lot that had been vacant since the 1920s, filling a prominent gap in the street walls of both West 21st Street and West 22nd Street. It brings much-needed apartments to a neighborhood that first emerged as a residential district in the early nineteenth century but grew to become one of the most popular manufacturing and commercial centers in the city. Ladies’ Mile’s unique evolution, made possible by advances in iron and steel construction, has produced an eclectic streetscape where former stables and small row houses stand alongside large department stores inspired directly by the neoclassical structures of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago—also known as the “White City.” Clad in white and gray terracotta masonry, 7 West 21st Street’s contemporary design reinterprets the district’s turn-of-the century structures to bring a sense of architectural continuity to Ladies’ Mile.
7 West 21st Street consists of two 18-story buildings separated by a shared court-yard. With frontage of varying width on both sides of the site, they have distinct but architecturally related elevations defined by a dense grid of sloping terracotta piers and lintels. Both facades are organized in classical tripartite fashion with an identifiable faux-granite “base,” but each building is “tuned” to its respective street: the narrower West 21st facade is distinguished by a four-story base and five narrow bays that emphasize the building’s height; the wider 22nd Street facade responds to the more expansive buildings lining that street with a large central bay, two-story base featuring a prominent aluminum storefront and full-height bay windows, and a pronounced zinc cornice. The buildings’ rear facades, facing one another across the shared courtyard, are simpler and more similar in appearance, composed of a dark gray modern brick and large tilt-and-turn windows.
Image Credits: Matthew Williams