Morris Adjmi Architects

414 West 14th

50,000 square feet
6 stories
New York, New York

Located in Manhattan’s Gansevoort Market Historic District, 414 West 14th Street combines two adjacent nineteenth-century structures behind a restored brick façade. The intention for this new commercial building was simple: unity through painstaking rehabilitation. The repaired masonry is united by the reconstructed cornice and a contextually appropriate new canopy.

This project was the latest in a series of alterations to two adjacent properties, which, like many buildings in the Meatpacking District, had been adapted multiple times to multiple new industries as the neighborhood evolved—and had the architectural scars to show for it.

A four-story Italianate printing factory was constructed in 1874 and 13 years later, an adjacent five-story structure, which borrows many of the same details and façade elements, was built. Both buildings were altered in the early twentieth century to accommodate meat storage and distribution; changes included a new storefront, new ornament, and a “false front” to raise the height of the factory. After many more years and many more modifications, two very different buildings had emerged: a narrow brick structure with an elaborate cornice and a wider stucco building with an ersatz storefront.

Making the old brick façades look new was a delicate process that required great care in stripping away layer after layer of stucco and paint without damaging the original masonry. New punched openings continue the existing fenestration pattern across the false front, and all the windows were updated with historically appropriate glazing. To further tie the façades together, a new cornice and new corbels were fabricated to match the existing elements.

Additionally, a continuous metal and glass canopy was added as a contemporary interpretation of the historic district’s characteristic architectural feature. Beneath the canopy, former loading bays were replaced with contemporary glass storefronts.

The historic photograph of 414–418 West 14th Street below, dating from about 1940, shows long-gone features: arched openings, ornament, and cornice. As seen in the adjacent image, few historic details remained by the time the restoration began.

To create additional leasable space in the dense neighborhood, a new penthouse was constructed behind 414 West 14th Street’s formerly false front. Set back from the façade, it creates an outdoor terrace while preserving the building’s street presence.