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Staten Island, New York, United States

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Musings on the Puck Building in NYC

I have been working at a temp job in the Puck Building and have a few observations to share. First - I love this neighborhood. It's been the neighborhood (and for the record, I'm considering this Soho, because the building is on the SOUTH side of Houston St., but there are those who argue it as Noho) where I have worked and played  happily for many years. When I first moved to NYC, it was the eighties and Soho was the center of the art universe.

One of my first jobs was at a boutique, no longer in existence, where I did alterations on clothing. With a master's degree in art, thank goodness I had sewing skills. While there, I made contact with a gallery owner and went to work for her at the gallery (also no longer in existence). At that gallery I met Miriam Shapiro, a feminist heroine of mine whom I had studied about in college, and became her studio assistant at her Soho loft.

Fast forward a decade and I was taking dance lessons at the Sandra Cameron Dance Center  in this neighborhood, for years.  There were many Sundays when I would have a tango class and then go hang out at Puck Fair, one of my very favorite Irish bars in the city, and have an Irish breakfast (including a Guinness) before going back to the dance studio for a practice session. Often I would sit in the window and look out at the beautiful Puck Building across the street. Sometimes I would see couples in formalwear filing in and out for some sort of special event. I made note that the Outsider Art Fair took place there, too. I never went into the building, but often wondered what it was like inside.

 So, now I find myself working inside the Puck Building.  It's a bright cheerful place to work, with the gigantic windows letting in alot of natural light.
the iconic Puck figure, from behind

 When I look up from my computer, I notice some of the details around me. One of the things I love about old buildings is the decorative detail. It seems decoration used to be an assumption in building design, recognizing the human need for the eyes to rest on something interesting. I miss that in modern buildings.

The cast iron columns around me have some wacky flowers attached to them, way up high, under the classic egg and dart motif. I realized that these flowers have to have been bolted on.  They couldn't have been part of the casting because of their undercut edges. To think that someone would have considered this important enough to go to such effort!

column details at eye level

Just leaving the building is a feast for the eyes. Check out this elevator.

Or these flowers again - on the underside of the stairway! 

And just before leaving the building, there is this lacy iron curtain over the stairway. 
I'm happy to have been able to experience this building from the inside and satisfy some of my curiosity. I hope the current lobby renovations will be respectful of the building.