NEW YORK, Oct. 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- On Friday, October 9, 2020, BKSK Architects LLP along with Reading International, Inc. hosted the Blessing of Tammany Hall conducted by Co-Directors of the Lenape Center at the newly reimagined, 44 Union Square. On the northeast corner of Union Square at 17th Street and Park Avenue South two of the Co-Directors of the Lenape Center, Hadrien Coumans and Joe Baker, performed a Blessing Ceremony acknowledging the past, present and future occupants of the site and shared, "Nulelintamuhena eli paekw Lenapehoking. Kulawsihemo enta ahpiekw. We are glad because you people came to Lenapehoking. Live well while you are here."
The ceremony began with opening remarks from Reading International's Executive Vice President, Margaret Cotter, followed by a Lenape Prayer of wellbeing and an honor song, with a blessing of cedar in front of the original front door of the historic Tammany Society known as Tammany Hall.
Margaret Cotter, Executive Vice President-Real Estate Management and Development-NYC for Reading International, Inc. said, "It was an honor to have founding members of the Lenape Center perform a sacred blessing ceremony of the newly revamped 44 Union Square. Bringing the landmarked property into the 21st century, required a dedicated team and years of careful planning to preserve the historic façades and add an iconic tortoise-shaped glass dome that is a wonderful homage to the deep relationship between the Lenape people and the original Tammany Hall."
The blessing ceremony continued inside the glass dome addition with closing remarks from BKSK Architects' Partner in charge of the project, Todd Poisson. Mr. Poisson shared, "We thank the Lenape Center for their guidance and support of the use of Lenape imagery of a rising turtle to inspire Tammany Hall's new crowning dome. We hope Tammany's new glass dome appears forever frozen at the very moment that the turtle is breaking through the surface of the sea, shedding water from its shell. Because it is at this moment that anything is possible."
The original 1928 building has a storied past as the former home of the corrupt political organization that came to be known as Tammany Hall. In 2015, The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved BKSK Architects' design to reimagine this landmark into a 72,000sf commercial and retail building with two preserved facades and a new 3-story glass and steel dome. The dome's undulating design is inspired by the Lenape creation story of a turtle rising from the sea to form land and hints at Tammany Hall's original namesake, the legendary Lenape turtle clan leader Chief Tamanend, whose terra cotta portrait still presides over the north façade.
Bringing together Architect, Owner, and design inspiration through the members of the Lenape Community to mark the occasion of the project's completion was a symbolic, joyful event for all of those involved and present. Guests included Reading International, Inc. executives, members of the design and construction teams, representatives from the Union Square BID, Newmark (the current leasing agent), a documentary film crew, members of The Greene Space who streamed the event and select press. Accounting for occupancy restrictions and to maximize physical distance among guests and participants the event was open to a small group of selected invitees. "Union Square is a true 24/7 mixed-use neighborhood with a robust network of transportation options, our world-class Greenmarket, and an existing retail and culinary mix that continues to drive foot traffic to the area," said Jennifer Falk, executive director of Union Square Partnership. "44 Union Square's spectacular new office and retail spaces are iconic new additions to our thriving community, showcasing the history and promise of the neighborhood."
SOURCE BKSK Architects