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.
The Terry Building is an industrial building in Astoria that features a prominent wall of blue ceramic panels alongside the corner entrance. The rest of the building is covered in a pale brick. The entrance was originally recessed but has since be filled in. The building also features its original configuration of ribbon style windows.
Aviation High School is a specialized trade high school purpose built for its somewhat unusual focus. Taking up an entire city block on Queens Boulevard in Woodside and accommodating 2,500 students, the school includes normal educational facilities like classrooms and a cafeteria but also a hangar and shops where students work on donated aircraft. The complex is of a Miesian design, largely unaltered, and includes a curtain wall design with aluminum framed windows and enamel panels in a green-blue hue. A light colored brick is also employed. The main entrance, actually on 36th Street, features a large stainless steel sculpture running up the side of the building and according to the Queens Awards program is an abstraction of aircraft vapor.
While the main architects of The Highlander were the Kesslers, the lobby was designed by none other than architect Morris Lapidus, most well known for his exuberant Miami modern hotels. Lapidus was a prolific interior designer as well, creating high-style lobbies and lounges for his hotels as well as commercial establishments in New York City. Not much is known about what the lobby originally looked like here. The Highlander’s entrance is down a set of rambling stairs and originally had meandering paths and rock gardens flanking it. The apartments themselves were open plan to accommodate modern living. Fred Trump was the developer of the property.
The Sadler Realty Corporation building is a one-story industrial building with a corner office space and truck bays on 48th Avenue and at the other end of the building facing a lot on Van Dam Street. The materials are beige brick and metal trim, now painted blue. It is unclear what Sadler Realty Corp. was or what the building was built for originally. Today it is vacant but most recently was used by Van Wagner Communications.