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NYTimes: All Centuries Come to an End

”This is not the building to go into the next century with.”

So said Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher and chairman of The New York Times, referring to the Times Annex, located at 229 West 43rd Street, between 7th and 8th Avenue. He was explaining the reasons why the newspaper would be leaving it and building The New Times Tower.

Actually, The Times Annex was the building to go into the last century with. It opened on February 2, 1913, a few short years after The New York Times had moved into The Times Tower at 1 Times Square in 1905. The Tower, an homage to Giotto’s Campanile in Florence, had narrow floors and never provided an ideal physical plant for the paper. So the Annex at 229 West 43rd Street was conceived as more of a factory. Designed by Albert Buchman and Mortimer J. Fox, it had eleven stories above street level and a spacious pressroom and sub-basement below. It contained 144,000 square feet of space‒three times the space of the old building. It housed huge printing presses‒seven times the paper’s previous capacity. It featured 19 truck bays. Though it was built out of the same materials as the Times Tower at 1 Times Square and featured French Gothic flourishes borrowed from the Château de Chambord, it was not ostentatious. It was only 321 feet tall. The name of The New York Times chiseled over the entrance to 229 West 43rd Street was only six inches high. The Times boasted of the building’s workmanlike character, calling it “the greatest and completest newspaper workshop in the world.”

In this building, form anticipated function. It was engineered with future expansion in mind. In 1921, circulation reached 313,000, triggering the building’s first renovation. Architects Ludlow & Peabody created a 100-foot, 11-story extension on the west side, a four-story “attic,” and seven-story setback tower. They carefully designed and engineered the expansion to serve the daily flow of news and newspapers. Every floor, including the third floor designed for editors and reporters shown in this blueprint, was designed to serve the functions of the paper,.

Two more add-ons came later, one in 1932 by the prolific Detroit architect, Albert Kahn, and another in 1947 by Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, architects of the Empire State Building, to achieve the paper’s own manifest destiny, extending it to 44th Street and increasing its overall size by 61 percent.

Of course, all centuries come to an end. So did the Annex’s capacity for expansion. An elegant new building to house printing operations, designed by Polshek & Partners (now known as Ennead Architects), was built at College Point, Queens in 1997. The New York Times printed its last daily paper in the Annex on June 15 of that year. It wrote and edited the paper for the last time at the Annex on June 9, 2007.

— Carol Cofone