Helpern Architects

An Accidental History

In 1982, when we were still known as David Paul Helpern, PC, we sent out our first holiday greeting card derived from a rendering of that year’s most interesting project. Originally meant to have our good wishes stand out from others’ ordinary year-end messages, that now-annual effort has become both a collection and something of a signature. It has also unintentionally created a history of our office.

The first card was the renovation of a faded century-old commercial building, 122 Fifth Avenue, to acknowledge Bromley Development’s pioneering start to the resurgence of lower Fifth Avenue. Next was a new public high school gymnasium and playing fields, and then came the historic preservation of Con Edison’s clock tower at its headquarters building. By that point, the year-ending cards had become a tradition of sorts and started to gain their own following. Along the way, they took on a life of their own.

Of course, the cards show only a fraction of our work – close to 1500 projects over 45 years, a good-sized portfolio. However you shuffle the deck, though, they reflect the focus and achievements of the Helpern office. As you scroll through the collection, click on the projects that match your interest; the link will connect with more information about them on our website.

We salute the owners and developers of these properties. Their commitment to quality and stewardship, their imagination and courage to invest in structures and transform districts … make them significant, even visionary clients. Being known as their architect has built our reputation and client list.

The holiday cards have had three graphic designers: Carla Hall originated the series, father and son Roger and Ben Whitehouse carried it for the next 30 years, and Jared Weinberger created 2016’s glamorous depiction of the new AC Hotel by Marriott for OTO Development.

Our Holiday Cards as a Profile of the Firm

Here are some quick facts about the cards – and Helpern Architects – tallied after we created the 35th card:

  • All projects – like our work – are in the New York region.
  • 16 are tall buildings.
  • 14 are mainly new construction.
  • 20 involved preservation or renovation. Several places gained an entirely new purpose. Two were resuscitated after major fires.
  • 19 are institutional buildings for learning, research, or worship.
  • 13 are commercial structures, designed for hospitality or business.
  • 4 are structures for fun, like gyms or the Bronx Zoo’s incomparable Congo Gorilla Forest.
  • Many are historic or designated, but five are iconic: Columbia’s Low Library, the Con Edison Clock Tower, Marble Collegiate Church (“America’s Hometown Church”), Pratt Institute’s Main Building, and the Nave, or entry pavilion, of Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library.
  • 4 were never built. It happens.

1982

122 Fifth Avenue, Bromley Development

1983

Eastchester (NY) High School

1984

Con Edison Clock Tower

1985

667 Madison Avenue, Hartz Mountain

1986

St. George Branch, New York Public Library

1987

Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House, New York University

1988

Casa Italiana, New York University

1989

Bank of East Asia

1990

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

1991

Penn Club of New York, University of Pennsylvania

1992

PS 102, Bronx

1993

Sunset Park Courthouse, NYC Police Department

1994

The Dalton School

1995

Soho Grand Hotel, Hartz Mountain

1996

Congo Gorilla Forest, Bronx Zoo, Wildlife Conservation Society

1997

Collegiate School

1998

Homestead Village

1999

1550 Broadway at Times Square, Rubenstein Family

2000

Bowling Green Office Building, Braun Realty

2001

Low Memorial Library, Columbia University

2002

Genovesi Center, St. Francis College

2003

School of Management, Yale University

2004

Student Commons, CUNY-Borough of Manhattan Community College

2005

Academic Center, St. Francis College

2006

Center III, CUNY–LaGuardia Community College

2007

Marble Collegiate Church, Collegiate Church Corporation

2008

Cambria Suites

2009

Knox Hall, Columbia University

2010

St. Agnes Branch, New York Public Library

2011

Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites, OTO Development

2012

Fort Washington Collegiate Church, Collegiate Church Corporation

2013

Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University

2014

Main Building, Pratt Institute

2015

212 Fifth Avenue, Madison Equities

2016

AC Hotel by Marriott, OTO Development