The Verizon Building – previously known as the Barclay-Vesey Building and the New York Telephone Company Building – is a 32-story building located at 140 West Street between Barclay and Vesey Streets, going through to Washington Street, in the TriBeCa neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.
The building was constructed from 1923 to 1927, and was designed in the Art Deco style by Ralph Walker of the firm McKenzie, Voorhees & Gmelin. The building is adjacent to the World Trade Center site and 7 World Trade Center, and it experienced major damage in the September 11, 2001 attacks. Its thick masonry exterior and use of masonry to protect steel columns and structural elements helped the building withstand the attacks. Restoration of the building after the attacks took three years, at a cost of $1.4 billion.
The building, which has been called “one of the most significant structures in skyscraper design”,was the longtime corporate headquarters of Verizon Communications.
The interior of the building includes 1,200,000 sq ft (110,000 m2). The lobby features veined marble walls, travertine floors with inlaid bronze medallions, and other ornate decor, including ceiling murals that depict how human communication has progressed, from Aztec runners to the telephone. Walker was inspired by Maya architecture in designing the facade. Exterior ornamentation includes complex foliage, along with babies and animal heads as part of the design, and a bell (symbol of the telephone company) above the door.
The Verizon Building has five sub-basement levels, which house communications equipment. The building remained in use by Verizon as a main telecommunications switching center in Lower Manhattan, handling approximately 200,000 phone lines and 3.6 million data circuits prior to 9/11.
The building was designed by Ralph Walker of McKenzie, Voorhees & Gmelin Architects; construction began in 1923. The building is 498 ft (152 m) tall and 32 stories. Construction was completed in 1927, and the building was known at that time as the Barclay-Vesey Building. It served as the headquarters for the New York Telephone Company, which commissioned it. When NYNEX was formed as a result of the breakup of the original AT&T, the building became NYNEX’s headquarters. It became the headquarters of Bell Atlantic following Bell Atlantic’s merger with NYNEX, and was retained as Verizon’s headquarters after Verizon was formed from the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE until 2013, when Verizon sold the upper 21 floors of the building to a redeveloper who plans to convert the upper floors into residences; Verizon relocated to midtown at 1095 Avenue of the Americas.
Architects and historians widely consider the Verizon Building as the first Art Deco skyscraper. It was among the first skyscrapers designed under the 1916 Zoning Resolution, using the step back principle which became a key element of art deco design.
The south and east facades of the Verizon Building were heavily damaged in the September 11 attacks, from the collapse of the adjacent 7 World Trade Center, as well as the collapse of the Twin Towers. No fires were observed in the building on September 11.
The building’s older design utilizes thick masonry and gives the building added strength, which helped the building withstand the attacks and remain structurally sound. The building has thick, heavy masonry in the infill exterior walls, which encloses the building’s steel frame. Brick, cinder, concrete and other masonry materials encase interior steel columns, beams, girders and other structural elements. The masonry allowed the structure to absorb much of the energy from debris hitting the building. Nonetheless, the building had extensive damage to its east and south facades. Underground cable vaults belonging to Verizon, along with other underground utility infrastructure were also heavily damaged from water and debris.