Size ...............................  147,305 gross sq. feet

Construction Cost ............. $16.0 million

Residential Design Award .. American Institute of Architects

The former Pythian Temple at 135 West 70th Street in Manhattan was designed in 1926 by architect Thomas Lamb. The building was intended to be the regional meeting facility for the lodges of the Knights of Pythias and as such, it housed several stacks of windowless lodge halls, each one complete with ancillary rooms and an organ loft. This pile of meeting rooms was suspended above the columnless auditorium which occupied the entire third floor by two enormous steel plate trusses, two stories tall, that spanned between the western and eastern party walls deep within the building. Covering the ziggurat-like stepped mass, more than 170 feet high, was exuberant terra-cotta decoration, including four ten-foot-tall pharaohs in full color, of various Assyrian, Egyptian and Babylonian revival styles that represented the symbols of the Knights of Pythias rite.

In its transformation to the PYTHIAN CONDOMINIUMS, most of the ornamentation was retained. Eighty-four condominium apartments plus four professional office suites on the ground floor were inserted into the former lodge floors. The existing structural frame, different on every floor, has for all intents and purposes been retained unchanged. New duplex apartments were threaded throughout the old trusses and inserted between the existing floor slabs. New floor slabs trisect the old auditorium space. New windows were added in a manner that reveals both the original construction and new renovation. Gold reflective curtain wall with deep red-colored framing members are split at the fifth floor, providing terraces for bedrooms on that level and showing both how the mass above is suspended on trusses and how the original five-bay architectural facade was overlaid on a six-bay structural frame. All code requirements were met with a sophisticated water-to-air heat pump system for climate control and double-glazing for all windows, including the eighth and ninth floor solaria. Decorative elements on the southern facade were either retained in place and restored or salvaged for use elsewhere within the building.

The aim of the project thus achieved provides modern, comfortable living quarters within an old structure in such a way that the essence of the original building was not only retained but also enriched.

As completed, the PYTHIAN CONDOMINIUMS received a Residential Design Award from the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The individual layouts of the apartments, each one different, and the sensitivity with which the older building elements have been combined with the new, were the subject of several articles prepared for major publications.