Downtown Athletic Club

Downtown Athletic Club
  1. About the Downtown Athletic Club in New York
    1. Building Catalogations
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectureal style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The Downtown Athletic Club is an Art-deco skyscraper designed in 1928 by Starrett & van Vleck and built between 1929 and 1930 in New York, NY.

Downtown Athletic Club is not the only name you might know this building by though. It is common for companies to want to attach their names to iconic buildings when they move in, or for the general public to come up with nicknames, and this one is no exception. The building has changed names several times over the years, and is also known as:

  • Downtown Athletic Club between 1926 and 2002.
  • 18 West Street.
  • 28-32 Washington Street.
  • Downtown Club from 2005 until this day.

Its precise street address is 19 West Street, New York, NY. You can also find it on the map here.

The Downtown Athletic Club is a structure of significant importance both for the city of New York and the United States as a nation. The building embodies the distinctive characteristic features of the time in which it was built and the Art Deco style. Because of that, the Downtown Athletic Club was officially declared as a national landmark on November 14th 2000.

The building has been restored 2 times over the years to ensure its conservation and adaptation to the pass of time. The main restoration works happened in 1952 and 2005.

Building's timeline

Downtown Athletic Club
Design completed
Construction begins
Construction completed
Declared NL
years ago
  1. 1952 - The dining room was extended.
  2. 2005 - Conversion into condominiums.

Architect and team

Starrett & van Vleck was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design.

The firm was established in New York City in 1908.

Before moving to New York and partnering with van Vleck, Goldwin Starrett had worked at D. H. Burnham & Company in Chicago. Later he moved to New York and joined Thompson–Starrett, where he met Earnest Alan van Vleck, who was also working there.

They are known for their significant contributions to the architectural landscape and retail architecture of early 20th-century New York.

Over the years the firms brought in new partners, including Ernest Brooks, Frank Gaertner, Herbert M. Hathaway, Otto A. Johnson, Frank L. Kirby and Reginald E. Marsh. Regardless of these auditions, the firm didn’t change its name.

Van Vleck died in 1956, and although the firm remained active it dissolved shortly thereafter.

Starrett & van Vleck was in charge of the architectural design, however, architecture is a complex discipline, which usually involves many professionals from different fields, without whom this building would have not been possible. We will surely be leaving out a lot of names here, but at the very least we know that there was one other part involved, that was Barnet Phillips and Duncan Hunter in charge of Interior Design.

Architectural Style

The Downtown Athletic Club can be categorized as an Art-deco building.

The Art Deco movement flourished during the 1920s and 1930s, with many historians marking the outbreak of World War II as its final decline. Even though a couple of decades might not seem as much, the Art Deco movement had a great impact on architecture, and it's widely represented in many American cities due to the development boom that happened during that time.

Art Deco marked the abandonment of traditional historicism and the embracement of modern living and the age of the machine. In architecture, that meant leaving behind the ornaments of Beux-Arts and Neo-Gothic buildings and instead favoring simplicity and visual impact through geometric shapes, clean lines, and symmetrical designs. Ornaments were still an important part of the design, but they became bold and lavish, and were often inspired by ancient cultures or industrial imagery, instead of nature.

The Downtown Athletic Club was completed in 1930, right when the Art Deco movement was at its peak, so it kind of went with the trend at that time.

Spaces & Uses

The Downtown Athletic Club reaches an architectural height of 518ft (158m), with the last accesible floor being 515ft (157m) off the gorund. It has a total of 35 floors.

When it opened its doors to the public in 1930, the Downtown Athletic Club was primarily used as Sports space. That however, is no longer the case, and today it mainly provides Residential space.

About the residences

The Downtown Athletic Club has a total of 283 residential units throughout its 35 floors. If you are interested in learning more about the residences and their availability, you can check the Downtown Athletic Club's website.

518ft (158m)
515ft (157m)

Materials & Structure

The Downtown Athletic Club uses a frame structure made of steel columns and concrete slabs.

A frame structure uses a combination of beams and columns to sustain the building's weight. The walls in this case are non-load bearing, which allows for more flexibility when distributing the interior spaces.

The facade is non-load bearing either, as it is common in frame structure type buildings.

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features orange mottled bricks combined with prominent details of the same material highlighting the entrance and the upper part of the building. Limestone on the parapet above the entrance door and on the building's crown. Granite on the street-level plinth .

Other materials found at the Downtown Athletic Club include, metal, used in the entrance foor and canopies, and glass, found in panels at the entrance door with chevron patterns.