Since construction completed on AT&T’s windowless, 30-story tower at 33 Thomas Street in 1975, the building has embodied its original design intention: an impenetrable granite-clad fortress bolstered to support nuclear fallout and keep those privileged within safe from the city.
The first act was simple – to remove the façade, expose the building’s over-sized, regularized structure (necessary for the telephone infrastructure housed within), invert it as an active participant in the city, and re-program it by sandwiching affordable housing units to the north and south and inserting a robust social infrastructural program (including theater, library, art studios, gymnasium, rooftop pool, etc.) in between. Taking advantage of the building’s deep floor plates allows space for new vertical circulation cores clinging to the east and west faces and a light, tensile and operable ETFE skin re-wrapping the building’s exposed frame.
While providing essential climatic performance and rendering the building as a ghost of its former self, the plastic wrapper façade inverts the building radically from solid, granite sculpture to green, translucent monolith.