Real Estate

Stunning nine-story atrium at The Beekman Hotel is up for landmark status

Once part of New York City architectural lore, the nine-story Victorian atrium at The Beekman Hotel may soon be formally recognized. The Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday voted to calendar the central atrium of 5 Beekman Street for consideration as an interior landmark. Built as part of the 19th-century commercial building Temple Court, the space consists of eight tiers of galleries topped by a cast-iron pyramid-shaped skylight. For decades, the atrium was walled in and off-limits to the public, until work began in 2014 to restore and transform the historic building into a hotel. Now a decade after the project began, the stunning atrium, restored to its former glory and the centerpiece of the luxury Beekman Hotel, is up for landmark status.

Courtesy of The Beekman Hotel

Located at the corners of Nassau and Beekman Streets in the Financial District, Temple Court was one of the city’s first skyscrapers when it opened in 1883. The red brick and terra cotta building was designed by Silliman & Farnsworth and featured more than 200 offices opening onto the ornately decorated galleries that surrounded the central atrium.

Starting in the 1940s, the atrium was walled off because the city considered the feature to be a fire hazard. The last tenant moved out of the building in 2001 and the building was left vacant and crumbling until 2014 when the restoration began.

During the project, GKV Architects restored much of the original interior, including the cast-iron balconies, the skylight, the atrium, and the millwork on the doors and window openings surrounding the atrium.

The building itself was designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1998 as an individual landmark, but the designation did not include the interior space.

Tuesday’s presentation by LPC research staff member Marianne Percival highlighted the atrium’s significance as a rare surviving 19th-century commercial atrium that has been “sensitively rehabilitated as the centerpiece of the Beekman Hotel, restored, and where necessary, reproduced.”

“This landmark is so fortunate because the owner had a vision to open the space and make it accessible and restore it,” LPC Chair Sarah Carroll said during Tuesday’s meeting. “These [atriums] once were popular features, and many of them were lost because they were a fire hazard. Many of the gallery floors were partitioned out, you’d have no sense of the atrium at all.”

The hotel during Christmas. Photo courtesy of Joe Thomas

The Beekman Hotel is home to two restaurants, Le Gratin by Chef Daniel Boulud and Temple Court by Tom Collichio. Because the entire ground floor and lobby have been recreated and are not original, the space will not be included in the interior landmark designation.

Adjacent to the historic Temple Court building is a new 51-story condo tower dubbed The Beekman Residences, where homes are currently starting at $1,375,000.

A public hearing on the atrium’s potential landmark status will be held in the coming weeks.


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