The Theory Building stands on the foundations of a 1948 poultry facility that was the last purpose- built market structure in the Gansevoort Market Historic District, more colloquially known as the Meatpacking District. The old building signaled the end of the largest meat market in the world; the new building, used as a flagship store and corporate headquarters for fashion brand Theory since its completion in 2006, marked the beginning of one of Manhattan’s trendiest neighborhoods.
As the first structure to be reviewed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission after the district earned its historic designation, the Theory Building would set a precedent in the Gansevoort Market area. Accordingly, it had to be unmistakably contemporary yet respectful of the historic context. At street level, the metal clad storefront weaves itself into the fabric of the surrounding structures with explicit references to the neighborhood, like the corrugated metal and glass canopy and oversized storefront windows reminiscent of old garage doors. The floors above are separated by metal beams and divided into vertical bays by prefabricated brick pilasters that culminate in a rounded corner column.
The Theory Building was inspired in part by the brick warehouses of the Meatpacking District as well as the rhythms and patterns of the townhouses encroaching from Greenwich Village. It doesn’t imitate contextual elements but integrates them using contemporary fabrication methods.
Image Credit: David Sundberg, Matthew Williams