The building designed to look like a punchcard

4NewYorkPlazaemporisDeep in the Financial District at the corner of Broad and Pearl Streets is a 22-story brick citidel known by its mailing address, 4 New York Plaza.

Fortress-like and impenetrable at the tip of Manhatan, it’s not the loveliest building downtown by any means.

But architectural firm Carson Lundin & Shaw, which designed it in 1969 for banking giant Manufacturers Hanover Trust, was apparently inspired by the data processing tool of the era: the punchcard.

You can see the resemblance in the the small windows along the facade, irregularly placed and slot-like.

Supposedly this punchcard design won awards.


The punchcard era is long over, but 4 New York Plaza remains, surviving massive flooding and damage thanks to Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Here’s a more inspiring view of 4 New York Plaza, taken by Lucia M. in 2008, with the walkups on Pearl Street lending it some of their beauty and charm.

[Top photo: Emporis]

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5 Responses to “The building designed to look like a punchcard”

  1. Judith Redfern Says:

    What memories you’ve brought back, not of the building but my first job! Punch card op, outting cards in a machine to sort under co-ordinates given by the computer programmers.
    The building does have a sort of charm of its own.

  2. voluntariopr Says:

    I suppose it’s all a matter of taste but I find this massive wall passing as building, totally lacking in any sort of “charm.” I also seem to remember IBM punch cards as having a more irregular pattern of holes and buff colored.

  3. RLewis Says:

    hey, i’m inside it right now. yikes! thanks for doing my building, but it’s not any better on the inside. ugh.

  4. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I know, it’s like a tomb!

  5. Weird things done to New York brownstones | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Yorkers—like this one on East 51st Street (top photo), swathed in glass with what looks like a giant punch card over the […]

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