Banking Room walls and ceiling Banner ?>

One Wall Street, Irving Trust Company

New York, NY

Banking Room walls and ceiling

Abstract design, 1931

Commissioned by: Voorhees, Gmelin & WalkerArtistic Collaborator: Perry Coke SmithMedium: glass mosaicFabricated by: Pühl & WagnerInstalled by: Ravenna Mosaics

Banking Room in glass mosaic

Banking Room in glass mosaic

The one exception to Hildreth Meière’s characteristic figurative designs can be seen in the abstract, Art Deco-style Banking Room at One Wall Street, where the Irving Trust Company asked Voorhees, Gmelin & Walker to provide “an inviting and friendly” reception area for their clients. Perry Coke Smith, a design assistant at the firm, created an abstract pattern for the walls and ceiling to be executed in glass mosaic. Meière was hired to provide scale and gradations of color for the faceted design.1

She and her assistant, Lynn Fausett, painted a range of colors first onto three-inch scale and later onto full-scale photostats of the angular design. Her warm colors shift from a deep oxblood at the floor to orange with gold higher on the walls, to gold with orange on the ceiling. The gold-leafed tesserae forming the jagged lines of the abstract pattern get closer as they rise. Meière’s gradations are so subtle that it appears as if the torcheres in the room were responsible for the gradually changing hues from dark to light.2

Meière’s colorful design was fabricated in large tesserae, or pieces of glass mosaic, by Pühl & Wagner in Berlin and shipped to New York to be installed by their American affiliate, Ravenna Mosaics.3 The same firm had recently installed Meière’s designs at St. Bartholomew’s Church and Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan.

Sample wall panel for Banking Room in glass mosaic at the Pühl & Wagner factory

Sample wall panel for Banking Room in glass mosaic at the Pühl & Wagner factory

The irregular shape of the room makes it difficult to see a repeat in the abstract design, but the patterns are actually repeated on opposite walls. Equally difficult to find are the letters and numbers A1 to H3, with which segments of the design are coded to correspond with the cartoons for each wall section.4

Full-scale and three-inch-scale cartoons with code 1B

Full-scale and three-inch-scale cartoons with code 1B

Tessera stamped E2 to correspond with cartoon

Tessera stamped E2 to correspond with cartoon

The striking Banking Room demonstrates how even without allegorical or religious imagery, Meière was able to combine color and scale imaginatively to create an extraordinary Art Deco space.

1

See Catherine Coleman Brawer and Kathleen Murphy Skolnik, The Art Deco Murals of Hildreth Meière (New York: Andrea Monfried Editions, 2104): 137-45.

2

See Eugene Clute, “Glass Mosaic Architecture 65 (September 1931): 142.

3

A photograph of a sample wall panel is in the collection of Saint Louis University Archives. DOC REC 50 (Ravenna Mosaic Company Records).

4

The full-scale and three-inch cartoons are in the collection of HLW International, New York.

Additional Resources

Commission Location

Emblem

One Wall Street
New York, NY 10005

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