Bell Telephone Laboratories Complex (aka Westbeth Artist Housing)

STATUS Designated Individual Landmark

Address: 445-465 West Street, 137-169 Bank Street, 51-77 Bethune Street, and 734-754 Washington Street

ARCHITECT: Cyrus L. W. Eidlitz; McKenzie, Voorhees & Gmelin; Warren B. Sanford; Richard Meier

DATE: 1860-1903

STYLE: Neo-Classical

Greenwich Village Manhattan Neo-Classical

Designated October 25, 2011

445-465 West Street, 137-169 Bank Street, 51-77 Bethune Street, and 734-754 Washington Street, Manhattan. Built c. 1860; 1896-1903, Cyrus L.W. Eidlitz, architect, Marc Eidlitz & Son, builder; 1924-26, McKenzie, Voorhees & Gmelin, architect, Tidewater Building Co., builder; 1929, Warren B. Sanford, engineer, Turner Construction Co., builder; 1931-34 alterations, Voorhees, Gmelin & Walker, architect; and 1968-70 conversion, Richard Meier, architect.

The Bell Telephone Laboratories Complex, occupying an entire city block in Manhattan’s Far West Village, is highly significant as the site of one of the world’s most prestigious telecommunications research organizations, where research work that resulted in many significant innovations and inventions was conducted, and later, as the first and largest publicly- and privately-funded artists’ housing project in the United States, as well as a pioneering large-scale industrial
rehabilitation project.

The Western Electric Co. built an office and factory building for telephone-related equipment (1896-1903) at 455-465 West Street, 149 Bank Street, and 734-742
Washington Street. After 1913, the building ceased as a manufacturing plant and was largely the headquarters of Western Electric’s Engineering Department. In 1925, it became Bell Telephone Laboratories for research and development for both the American Telegraph & Telephone Co. and Western Electric Co. After Bell Labs vacated the property in 1966, Roger L. Stevens, first chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, conceived of the complex as a pilot project of subsidized, affordable studio living quarters for artists, which was substantially supported and inaugurated by the J.M. Kaplan Fund. It was converted in 1968-70 into Westbeth Artists’ Housing, the first major work by architect Richard Meier, with 383 residential and work studio units, as well as gallery, performance, and commercial spaces, and a park.

 

 

STATUS Designated Individual Landmark

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