Apple Store, Upper East Side
A comprehensive adaptive reuse of one New York City’s overlooked treasures, this project transforms the nationally registered U.S. Mortgage & Trust Company Building on the city’s Upper East Side into a cutting-edge technological hub. Wrapped in a sanctuary of classical elegance, Apple customers replace those who visited for their banking needs and an architectural jewel shines once again.
A prime example of neoclassicism, the building was designed by Henry Otis Chapman and completed in 1922. After nearly a century of alterations and general disregard for the building’s great history, its status had been downgraded to a backdrop lacking its original grandeur.
Recognizing the building’s potential and honoring its history, the team sought to develop a new customer experience through the restoration of its original ambiance. The original banking hall was a beautifully proportioned space highlighted by tall windows, elegant details, and an airy stateliness. Those qualities had been disrupted through the years by partitions, a hung ceiling, and the removal of key architectural elements. The team preserved and restored the building’s exterior, reconstructed historic finishes, and made a few sensitive alterations, including new spaces in the cellar.
Historic finishes were restored, where possible, but a significant amount of reconstruction was needed to satisfy the program’s retail requirements, and many historic elements were missing or could not be salvaged. Since the record was limited, the team relied on historic precedents, especially for the interior chandeliers. Existing photographs and drawings offered enough information for the team to determine their general shape and configuration, but the nuanced detailing required careful research and design studies that were executed in close collaboration with the fabricator.
The existing cellar was a maze of vaults and load-bearing walls, but the additional retail space required a consistent customer experience. Inspiration was found in another New York Chapman building, the Mercantile Library. The original banking screen and vault doors remain, serving as visual anchors and tangible remnants of the building’s financial lineage.