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Curran/O’Toole Building receives award for restoration

January 18, 2016

The team responsible for the Curran/O’Toole Building restoration has received a Bronze Award from Building Design & Construction magazine. The award marks a high point in the building’s long journey from a site threatened by demolition back to a fully operational health center. The building was originally designed by Albert C. Ledner for the National Maritime Union (NMU) and was dedicated in 1964. Ledner designed a total of 14 buildings for the NMU throughout his career, three of which are in New York City (the other two are now hotels: the Maritime Hotel and the Dream Downtown). In the Curran/O’Toole Building, the most prominent feature is the cantilevered floors with scallop-edged cutouts, which create the impression of portholes on a ship when viewed head on.

In 2007, then-owner Saint Vincent Medical Centers announced plans to vacate the building, leaving it to its development partner, Rudin Management, to redevelop the site. This jump-started a preservation effort, which DOCOMOMO NY/Tri-State participated in, and the details of which are documented on our advocacy page. The end result was that in 2011 a new owner, North Shore LIJ Health System, came forward with plans to renovate the building for use as a comprehensive health care facility.

The restoration team, led by Perkins Eastman Architects with Robert Silman Associates as the structural engineer and façade expert, had a number of challenges with the site, but were able to carefully preserve the exterior while making the interior a functional space for its current use. In 2014 the site reopened as the Lenox Hill Healthplex, which features the first freestanding emergency department in Manhattan.

Curran O'Toole Building, Albert C. Ledner, 1964. Photo © Christopher Cooper; courtesy Perkins Eastman Architects.