The onetime home of the Old Gray Lady will get some fancy new signage, thanks to a plan put forth by landlord Africa-Israel to erect a 32-foot-long and more than seven-foot-tall sign at the base of the clock tower toward the top of the old New York Times building and to replace the tower’s digital clock face with an analog clock.
The plan, which was unanimously approved by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission on Wednesday, would erect the sign in the same spot where the old one once hung, emblazoned with “Times.” The future tenant of the building at 229 West 43rd Street, now undergoing a $175 million renovation by Africa Israel (now known as AFIUSA and controlled by Israeli Lev Leviev), will likewise get its name in backlit lighting.
The New York Times occupied the building from 1913 to 2007, at which point it relocated to its new Renzo Piano-designed headquarters on Eighth Avenue. The paper’s former digs, totaling 767,000 square feet, are one of the few large chunks of office spaces available in midtown.
The Historic Districts Council, which describes the building as a “neo-Gothic-style skyscraper,” said in a statement that, while the building would forever be known as “The Times Building,” it approved of the proposal since “its style, size, placement and usage are all reminiscent of the old sign.”
The preservationists were less impressed with the clock face, suggesting the design was more appropriate for an upscale department store and encouraging AFIUSA to take “cues from the c.1945 photo that shows a square frame, illuminated Arabic numerals, and illuminated arms.”