Manhattan House


Manhattan House was designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1950 and stands as one of the premier landmark buildings in New York City’s (NYC) Upper East Side. Several notable residents have called this residential tower home: actress Grace Kelly, clarinetist Benny Goodman and former governor Hugh Carey. Manhattan House is considered one of the first apartment buildings in the city to achieve an “indoor-outdoor synthesis” by incorporating large windows and far-extruding balconies — a popular design feature in new construction all over the world today. Renowned Cuban-born interior designer Vicente Wolf was tasked with redesigning this landmark’s luxury penthouses, along with its 20-year-old elevator system and the interiors of all 10 passenger cars.

To date, Manhattan House is one of the largest projects undertaken by United Cabs, Inc., a small New York company in an ever-growing industry. From long and detailed meetings with building executives to various design meetings with Wolf’s team, nothing about this project was ever placed on the back burner. From a logistical and manufacturing standpoint, the team ensured every panel, wall, ceiling and floor was created, handled and delivered with care and craftsmanship.

Manhattan House switched from an SER Drive DC machine to a TW permanent-magnet gearless machine, which lowered energy consumption and gave the building a higher efficiency rating. For the cab interiors, United Cabs utilized a melody of materials, including “grey oak” veneer by Tree Frog, stainless steel and “black absolute” granite.

The project presented a series of difficulties. Wolf’s design team had designed the cab so that the crossgrain on the veneer laminates (featured on the upper panels) would all point toward the center; however, there were limitations to the laminate’s dimensions. United Cabs’ craftsmen had done such a thorough job with the seam joint that, when a sample was submitted for board approval, the board called to verify where or even if there was a seam at all.

Both contractor Centennial Elevator and United Cabs were working on an accelerated schedule. There were major renovations and construction going on in the building simultaneously, so the modernization was expedited into phases to minimally affect residents and other construction crews.

Manhattan House’s sophistication, modern and minimalistic design is one United Cabs believes match the building’s once-innovative architectural design. All 10 elevators are the result of a dedicated team of highly talented individuals looking to constantly be at the forefront of the elevator industry.


  • Top Ceiling: 12-ga. cold-rolled steel (CRS) painted black and one new two-speed exhaust fan
  • Drop Ceiling: Wood-core drop ceiling faced with stainless-steel #4 satin finish
  • Lighting: Six light fixtures, Man-D-Tec solar-beam lighting system with square bezel
  • Shell Walls: 16-ga. CRS shell walls with two coats of sound-deadening rubberized material
  • Upper Panels: Three wood-core raised removable panels, panels self-edged faced with specialty Tree Frog “grey oak” veneer; panels have 3/16-in. stainless-steel brushed inlays in an “X” pattern. The veneer grain all converges toward the center. The panels are hung with aluminum Z clips.
  • Bottom Panels: Three granite “black absolute” granite stone panels backed with an aluminum honeycomb substrate, framed with 1/8-in.-thick X 1-in. X 1-in. stainless-steel #4 satin-finish angles. The panels are hung with aluminum Z clips.
  • Fronts: New transom, strike post and return, all faced in 14-ga. stainless-steel #4 finish
  • Doors: One new 16-ga. single-speed CRS core door faced in 20-ga. stainless-steel #4 satin finish
  • Floors: “Black Absolute” granite
  • Miscellaneous: A corner mirror, certificate frame, nickel silver single-speed sill and hardware package, and four steady plates
Related Tags

Elevator World | March 2017 Cover