An Icon

Luxury Apartments, Penthouse, and Office SpaceWoolworth Building, Manhattan, New York City

Front Facade of Woolworth Building, Manhattan, New York City

The iconic, Neo-Gothic Woolworth building in New York was the tallest building in the world in 1913. It was owned by F.W. Woolworth, one of the original pioneers of the five-and-dime store.

Originally designed by Cass Gilbert, the Woolworth building rises 60 stories over the southern tip of Manhattan. The top 30 stories, known as The Woolworth Tower Residences, have recently been converted into 33 one-of-a-kind condominiums that include Geberit in-wall systems.

The Challenge

When it came time to renovate, the building’s owners, designers, and architects selected premium polished Italian marble for the interior walls and countertops; custom Italian millwork for the vanities; and top-of-the-line plumbing fixtures and fittings throughout. Joanna Stephens, Project Manager, CNY Group needed to meet the requirements for a luxurious interior that also extended to the numerous bathrooms and powder rooms.

Extensive structural reinforcement as well as MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) replacement was essential, and the challenge was to do so without disturbing the existing lower-level tenants or jeopardizing the building’s landmark status. The Woolworth Building has been a National Historic Landmark since 1996 and a New York City Landmark since 1983. In New York City it is illegal for the owner of a designated landmark to alter, reconstruct, or demolish any portion of the structure without first obtaining the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission which the residences received approval for.

Closeup of renovated bathroom with Geberit toilet system in Woolworth Building, Manhattan (© Geberit)

The Solution

“We installed Geberit in-wall toilet systems in all of the building’s 100 bathrooms, saving an average of nine inches of space per bathroom. Nine inches doesn’t seem like much until one considers that the cost per average square foot in the building can exceed $3300,” Stephens says. “The Geberit system combines the luxury the owners wanted with the practicality that renovators, maintenance professionals, and homeowners demand.”

The Geberit in-wall system opens up more space in the bathroom by enclosing the unsightly toilet tank and other plumbing hardware inside the building’s walls. The sound-insulated tank helps deaden the flushing noise, which can reach 75 dBA on a standard toilet, especially important in luxury apartment buildings. The owners chose Sigma20 actuators to enhance the feeling of elegance in the bathroom. The combination of dual-flush plate and advanced Geberit flush valve will save thousands of gallons of water every year. Residents will also benefit from the Geberit system’s rock-solid dependability, improved accessibility, and extreme durability.

Nothing about the renovation was left to chance. Prior to installation, CNY Group produced a full-scale mockup of a bathroom with Geberit in-wall system to verify the strength of the system. The Geberit Duofix Carrier for wall-hung toilets supports up to 880 lbs, exceeding American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) A112.62 strength requirements. During a standard ASME test, a 500 lb (225 kg) weight is put on the edge of the fixture for 5 minutes and then tested to deflect not greater than 0.250 inches (6.3 mm). The standard establishes minimum performance requirements for framing-affixed supports for off-floor water closets with concealed tanks.

The Geberit system is designed to be practically maintenance free. Should maintenance ever become necessary, the system offers easy and quick tool-free access to all internal components, including the fill and flush valves, through the decorative actuator flush panel.

The Geberit in-wall tank and carrier system allowed sleek design to be carried throughout the building without interrupting the full-height vertical marble wall panels. With a little help from Geberit, the designers achieved their vision, giving the historic building a contemporary feel.