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An example of the German Rundbogenstil style of architecture, the building was designed by Albert Wagner, and was constructed in two parts. The north section was built in 1885-86, and the south addition in 1892-93. The front of the building – on Lafayette Street – was relocated in 1899 when the street – then called Elm Place – was widened, this was supervised by Herman Wagner. The building was rehabilitated in 1983-84 and further renovated in 1995 by Beyer Blinder Belle. The building sports two gilded statues by sculptor Henry Baerer of Shakespeare's character Puck, from A Midsummer Night's Dream, one on the northeast corner at Houston and Mulberry, and one over the main entrance on Lafayette.
The building was the longtime home of Puck magazine, which gave the building its name; Founded in St. Louis in 1871, the magazine moved into the building in 1887 and remained there until it ceased publication in 1918.
A June 1887 fire caused significant damage, estimated as high as $30,000, including water damage to Puck magazine's editorial rooms. A fire in November caused $50,000 in damage after a can of turpentine caught on fire inside a finishing room where workers were producing Christmas cards.
The building later housed numerous independent printing firms and related printing services such as typesetters and a printing ink company, Superior Printing Ink. The odor of printing ink permeated the building for many years. An office stationery company, S. Novick & Son, once occupied the second floor. Notable among that firm's salesmen was Alger Hiss, the former Assistant Secretary of State, who was brought down in a spy scandal in the 1950s.
The Serra family bought the building in 1978 and allowed the building to empty out as tenants left over the years as their leases expired. A proposed 1981 conversion of the building eliminated the inclusion of residential space based on the economics of paying displaced commercial tenants a fee of $9 per square foot. The building reopened in April 1983 after an $8 million renovation and restoration project that created condominium spaces for businesses primarily related to the arts.
On November 5, 1982, author and artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha was raped and killed by security guard and serial rapist Joey Sanza in The Puck Building. Cha had gone there to meet her husband, photographer Patrick Barnes, who was documenting the renovation of the building. Cha died a week after the publication of her book Dictee. Sanza was convicted after five years and three trials.
Owner Jared Kushner sought approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission to erect six penthouse apartments at the top of the red-brick building. After initially being turned down in October 2011, Kushner made two modifications and his plans were approved. The first of the six units closed in May 2014, selling for $28 million.
The building contains both office and retail space as well as ballrooms for large events on both the top and ground floors. The Skylight Ballroom can accommodate 250 guests, while the Grand Ballroom can fit up to 1,000.
The retail space was added when the building underwent a large-scale renovation beginning in October 2011.
In 2011, REI opened a 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) store spanning the building's first three levels. The renovation was designed by architects Callison and includes an area that showcases the history of the Puck Building.
Thrive Capital, the venture capital firm run by Charles Kushner's son and Jared Kushner's younger brother Josh, has its office in the building. Several portfolio companies that Thrive invested in are also headquartered in the Puck Building, including Cadre and Oscar.
Houston and Mulberry, 1893
In popular culture
During Little Italy's annual Feast of San Gennaro, which takes place on Mulberry Street, strings of lights are strung from the building's Mulberry Street walls.
An exterior shot of the Puck Building is seen in the American television sitcomWill & Grace, as the building where the title character Grace Adler (played by Debra Messing) works.
An exterior shot of the Puck Building was seen on the American television Seinfeld in the episode "The Little Kicks", when Elaine hosts a company party there.
Maps published in 1894 (top) and 1905 show the Puck Building, lower right, before and after Lafayette Street (formerly Marion Street) was cut through the block, necessitating the relocation of the western wall.
^ abcGaiter, Dorothy J. "Restored Puck Building Opens Today", The New York Times, April 20, 1983. Accessed May 9, 2016. "The landmark Puck Building in SoHo that was once the largest in the world devoted to lithography and publishing will reopen today after three years of restoration as a condominium for arts and industry."
^Haden-Guest, Anthony. "The Magazine That Made--and Unmade--Politicians", The Daily Beast, November 2, 2014. Accessed May 9, 2016. "Puck, a humor magazine that was known for its cartoons of pointed political satire, was launched in St. Louis in 1871, but moved to New York a few years later to begin publishing out of the splendid steel-frame building in 1887.... Puck was a waning force by then. It went to black and white in 1916, died in 1918."
^Oser, Alan S. "Real Estate; SoHo Loft For Use as Galleries", The New York Times, November 25, 1981. Accessed May 9, 2016. "The Puck building was at first going to be a mixed-use building. But the higher costs of residential development, and the new loftlaw requirement that would have forced the sponsor to pay relocated commercial tenants $9 a square foot, have changed the economic balance, said Aaron Gelbwaks, the sponsor's attorney."
^"NYU Inks Deal for 'Dream Space' in Puck Building", New York University, June 21, 2013. Accessed May 8, 2016. "New York University and Kushner Companies announced that the University has signed a 15-year lease for three floors, comprising 75,000 square feet of contiguous space, in the historic Puck Building, 295 Lafayette Street in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood."
^"The Puck Building", New York (magazine). Accessed May 9, 2016. "This landmark Soho building boasts more than 14,000 square feet of event space. The high-ceilinged Grand Ballroom is vast--it can hold 1,000 guests--with white walls and columns, two chandeliers, and white curtains that can be parted to yield an incredible amount of natural light. The seventh-floor Skylight Ballroom seats up to 250 guests."
^"On Set in the Village", Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, September 30, 2011. Accessed May 8, 2016. "Let's start with Will & Grace. Where was Grace Adler Designs located? Why, in the Puck Building of course."