Setback, Step Up

For decades, the romance of New York has been reflected by its Art Deco architectural masterpieces. The Empire State building, of course, as well as the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, and the original American Stock Exchange building exemplify the city’s golden age, even as they operate as active hubs of culture and commerce. New downtown condos and Wall Street homes that characterize the New York Financial District’s current renaissance are among those that actively borrow from Art Deco traditions or even redevelop and recast original Art Deco buildings. Beautiful and historically significant, Art Deco architecture captures the imagination with its sleek, skyward representation of ambition and progress. One of the most characteristic features of Art Deco architecture, the setback “steps” that climb up the exteriors of these buildings, add drama to the graceful ascent of the structures’ distinct vertical lines. It’s no wonder that the current boom in New York’s downtown development is accompanied by renewed interest in the city’s most representative building style.

The setback terraces of Art Deco effectively eschew the more common balconies and protruding terraces that often break up the external lines of newer buildings, creating a jagged, conventional profile. In contrast, the unique setback approach can provide the outdoor access and views that are at such a premium for new condos downtown while also paying homage to the style of a past era. And setback terraces can be landscaped simply with dramatic effect. Such results are seen in the terraces and rooftop garden at 101 Wall Street, where lucky owners of these luxury downtown condos enjoy treasured green space as well as a commanding perspective.

Even as they provide privacy and sanctuary, the terraces of 101 Wall Street offer views of the East River, Wall Street Pier, and new Esplanade that reflect the area’s historic importance as a seaport and its recent reinvention as a recreational destination. At night, the lights of the Brooklyn skyline twinkle across the water, within easy reach by ferry, water taxi, or the nearby Brooklyn Bridge. The pier also serves as a convenient jumping-off point to the beaches of New Jersey and Queens.

With their upward trajectory and outward expanse, it’s easy to see why the features of historic Art Deco buildings in New York capture the imagination. Their unique combination of power and refinement holds lasting architectural interest, even after nearly a century of intervening change.