In an interesting twist, the former Michelin Tire Corporation building is now owned by the Bulova Watch Company, whose former school and corporate center are both among the awarded structures, although neither is now owned by Bulova. The building is long and low with corporate offices at level with the parking lot and a warehousing area behind. The structure is oriented at a right angle to the street to protect from noise and sun exposure as the site sits astride a service road to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, which roars away in a sunken roadbed below. The color palette of the complex is subdued in browns and blacks, although the awards program states that it was originally highlighted with additional blue, orange and yellow accents at the entrance and interior.
Barkin, Levin & Co. Is a tour-de-force of mid-century design hiding in plain sight. The building is off the beaten track in a rather quiet corner of Long Island City, befitting its original role as a factory and offices for a coat manufacturer. The factory is a fairly standard steel frame with brick facade, but the administrative wing with its umbrella support system sheltering a glass box is very striking even with some minor modern alterations, like a low masonry wall breaking the openness of the glass pavilion. Unusually, the Queens Awards write-up states that the spaces of the building and equipment were jointly designed by the architect and the owner of Barkin, Levin. Franzen went on to design other significant modern structures but this “collaboration” is a definite highlight.
Bestform Foundations building sits in Woodside on the border of an industrial and residential zone. Because of this, the building originally used colored brickface and glass windows to give the impression of a school rather than an industrial facility. Today the building is readily visible in form, although completely covered in the orange and blue vinyl branding of a Storage Deluxe building. Most notable is the existing second floor penthouse, which originally housed executive offices above the first floor factory. This is also one of three award winners designed in part by a female architect. Here Irene Von Horvath was part of the team, in her early career before relocating to the Southwest.
The Universal Steel Equipment Corporation building is located in a largely intact industrial zone in Long Island City. These blocks, located approximately between Skillman Avenue, 39th Street, the Long Island Expressway and the beginning of Queens Boulevard, shelter a number of Queens Chamber Award winners. This building is an example of how moderne design was moving into modernism with a long, low, streamlined profile. The materials are basic and include brick, concrete and glass brick with limestone and aluminum trim. This remains one of the most intact and earliest Queens Chamber winners. It is now occupied by a vitamin distributor.