New York City’s Decoration and Design Building (DDB) is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a series of special events focused on the design center's rich history. To jump-start the anniversary celebration, Editor at Large has compiled a list of fun facts about the building such as who the first tenant was and why the area was considered a commercial wasteland before the 1950s.
The Decoration and Design Building
Did you know…
• David and Earl J. Levy were the original architects of the DDB.
• The building plans were filed in 1961 on a site that was about 100-by-230-feet, according to The New York Times.
• When the DDB opened its doors to the design community in 1965, it was literally “the first kid on the block”—the first to-the-trade building to move into the neighborhood. For the previous 100 years or so, Third Avenue—haunted by the specter of an elevated train, or “the El”—had been an architectural and commercial wasteland. When the El was demolished in the mid-1950s, development became hot.
• A year and a half after ground was broken, the DDB opened to almost full capacity.
• Samuel Sack, founder of Saxony Carpet Co. Inc., was the first tenant to physically occupy space at the DDB.
• The three original showrooms that still occupy space in the DDB today are Stark, Fortuny and Duralee.
Lobby of the Decoration and Design Building
• In 1993, Hinson & Company took over the entire north wing on the seventh floor, where it accommodated Hansen lighting and the Mrs. MacGougall Shop, as well as a number of fabric/wallcovering collections, including those from Sister Parish and Albert Hadley.
• The DDB is actually three buildings. The Third Avenue building was built first, followed by the 59th-Street addition and, finally, the annex.
• The annex opened in 2003 and was previously occupied by a movie house specializing in Indian cinema.
• Though Pollack has moved three times within the space, Pollack has remained loyal to “its” floor: 17.
• Over the years a number of showrooms have added to the prestige of their brands by inviting well-known interior designers to produce exclusive, to-the-trade collections of fabrics, rugs and furnishings. Among those fabric collections represented at the DDB are William Diamond and Anthony Baratta’s work at Lee Jofa, Barbara Barry’s contributions to Kravet, David Barrett work with Stark, and Victoria Hagan Home’s additions to Pollack. Furniture collections include Rose Tarlow-Melrose House at Holly Hunt and Ann Getty House at Watkins & Fonthill.
• Also in the DDB, clusters of intimate, boutique enterprises devote themselves with pride to their particular areas of expertise, including Liora Manne and Shelly Tile. Other specialists include picture-framers J. Pocker & Sons and British purveyor of high-quality paints Farrow & Ball.