Old buildings, new sights – The New York Times
As the New York City skyline is ever-changing, some recent construction and additions to the city’s historic buildings have revealed once-hidden, yet spectacular, views of the world.
These views range from close-ups of architectural details that previously were only visible to a privileged few, to bird’s-eye views of towers and cupolas that, until recently, could only be seen from the street. They offer a new way to see parts of Manhattan and highlight design elements that have largely been hidden from view.
The structures include office buildings that created new residential spaces, such as the Woolworth Building in Lower Manhattan; historic buildings that have had towers added or converted to create luxury accommodation, such as Steinway Hall on West 57th Street and the Waldorf Astoria New York; and brand new condo towers that allow for exciting new benefits of nearby landmarks.
“During the first decades of the 20th century, architects generally believed that the whole building had to be designed, from the sidewalk to the top,” said Carol Willis, architectural historian and founder and director of the Skyscraper Museum. “The elaborate ornaments were an integral part of both the architectural design and the practice of the building industry.”
In the examples we share with you below, some of this noble decoration is now visible thanks to new residential developments recently brought to the market.
The neoclassical centerpiece Steinway Room was completed in 1925 by famous architects Whitney Warren and Charles Delevan Wetmore, of Warren and Wetmore. New Yorkers have long admired the views of 57th Street on the ornamental Indiana limestone facade of the pre-war structure, which features music-themed carvings by the Italian sculptor. Leo lentelli and a frieze with inset portraits of musical figures such as Mozart.
The development known as 111 West 57th Street combines the 16-story Steinway Hall with an attached supertall condo tower, and was designed by SHoP Architects. The tower – one of the tallest and slimmest buildings in the United States – gives some residents direct sight lines of the intricate stones of the adjacent 1925 building and the copper-roofed structures that crown the building before the war, right outside their windows.
“To add visibility and recognition to the skyline for their client Steinway & Sons, Warren & Wetmore accentuated the required lapels with decorative urns and Ionic columns, culminating the rhythmic two-crown structure at the roof of copper, ”said architectural historian Marci Clark, Managing Director at JDS Development Group, who oversaw the construction of 111 West 57th Street.
Sales of the 60-unit project – which includes 46 units in the condo tower and 14 inside Steinway Hall – kicked off in 2018, but the building is still under construction. Only a number of residences are listed at any given time, and currently range from a two-bedroom condo priced at $ 8,750,000 to a four-bedroom penthouse for $ 66 million.
The Waldorf Astoria New York
In Midtown East, two of the city’s most renowned Art Deco buildings, the Waldorf Astoria New York (conceived by Schultze and Weaver) and the General Electric Building (by architects Cross and cross), stand within a block of each other. Both buildings were completed in 1931 and both bear enviable exterior elements typical of the era, such as geometric details and distinctive crowns that dramatically shape the silhouettes of the buildings.
“The dance between these two great Art Deco buildings was immediately noticed by those interested in the New York skyline,” said Andrew Dolkart, architectural historian and professor of historical preservation at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. “Although the tops of the buildings are different, they have a similar aesthetic, so they work well together.”
However, it was not until construction began Waldorf Astoria towers, a luxury condominium tower that spans the 33 upper levels of the historic 52-story building, including two new top-floor penthouses nestled within its crowning domes, this eye-level view of the stylized Gothic crown of the General Electric building has been fully revealed. (The hotel on the lower floors remains closed for renovation.)
In addition to stunning views of this crown, the majority of the north-facing residences in the entire block building also offer protected aerial views of the recently restored terracotta dome of Saint-Barthélemy Episcopal Church the next door.
By individually marking the Waldorf, the General Electric building and Saint-Barthélemy, the Monuments Preservation Commission “preserved a unique urban composition with an upward spiraling thrust,” said architect Frank Mahan, associate director of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the firm which oversees the restoration of the Waldorf Astoria New York hotel, as well as the construction of the new residences.
Condo sales started early last year, and available units range from a $ 1.825 million studio to a four-bedroom unit for $ 18.5 million.
The 69th regiment’s armory
In Kips Bay, a new 100-unit condominium building called VU New York spans 36 floors, well above many of its surrounding structures. Its height offers views of the rooftops of upscale neighborhoods, the East River, and many architectural gems hidden in between.
Residents of some of VU New York’s lower floors will have direct sight lines of the two-story mansard roof crowning the historic Armory of the 69th regiment on Lexington Avenue, which has hosted all of the legendary Armory exhibition of 1913 in the early 1950s NBA Finals Games. (Today the structure serves as Headquarter New York National Guard 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment.)
Upper floor units with western exposures will have an aerial view of the distinct architectural structure, New York’s first armory (built after the Armory of the seventh regiment) which was not modeled on a medieval fortress.
Built in 1906 by Hunting and hunting, the slate-covered mansard roof of the armory was originally a single story with circular dormers. In 1926 the roof was raised by architect George M. McCabe to create more storage for the armory. Rectilinear, round-headed windows with classic copper surrounds have been added. The end result is a French Beaux-Arts inspired structure with architectural details that can be appreciated from afar, but which have the most impact at eye level.
“The design of the 69th Regiment’s armory building is completely different from other armory buildings found in Manhattan, which generally have a medieval style,” said Yehuda Mor, of Minrav Development, who developed VU New York. “When the inhabitants look out the window and see the armory, they have the impression of looking out of a window in Paris.
Construction is still underway at VU New York, although sales kicked off in January 2021. The available condo units range from a studio for $ 829,000 to a three bedroom for $ 3.95 million.
The Woolworth Building
At 792 feet, the Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway was the highest in the world from 1913 to 1930. Commissioned by the “five and ten cents” store mogul Frank Winfield Woolworth, the large neo-Gothic skyscraper was designed by the architect Cass Gilbert to resemble a medieval European cathedral, and is often referred to as that of New York “Cathedral of Commerce. “
With elaborate ornamental stonework, all but the lower four floors of the Woolworth Building feature a terracotta facade that from a distance reads like limestone, but on closer inspection it is a polychromatic scheme of vibrant blue, green and yellow glazes.
“The intention was to use the color in a nuanced way that blends into the sky,” said Ms. Willis, of the Skyscraper Museum. “Woolworth and Gilbert were serious about the building’s stature as a work of art, or ‘Architecture’ with a capital ‘A’.
More than a century later, Alchemy properties transformed the top floors of the 58-story building into 32 condominiums known as the Woolworth Tower Residences, where some residents can get a close, personal view of the building’s meticulously detailed exterior, including its gargoyles, ogee arches, copper roof, and windows framed in brightly colored glazed terracotta panels.
“There aren’t too many buildings in New York City where you can look out the window and see the building you live in,” said Ken Horn, president and founder of Alchemy Properties.
The Woolworth Tower Apartments first hit the market in 2015, including the penthouse at the top of the building, named Pinnacle. Alchemy began marketing the property in earnest in 2017, listing it at what would be a record $ 110 million, but is currently offering the penthouse as a “white box,” or gross space, for $ 79 million after giving him a reduction in 2019. Other units available include a five bedroom apartment listed at $ 29.95 million and a two rooms condo for $ 5.45 million.
The Park Row building
Across from City Hall Park (and a stone’s throw from the Woolworth Building) at 15 Park Row sits the architect RH Robertson’s iconic Park Row Building. When completed in 1899, the 391-foot-tall, historic building was the the biggest around the world, and once housed the offices of the Associated Press news agency.
The exterior of 15 Park Row is marked by classic architectural elements, including columns and pilasters, ornamental projected balconies and, most importantly, a pair of four-story cupola towers with copper domes that cap the building and help to distinguish it in the horizon.
“One reviewer called them rabbit ears,” Mr. Dolkart said of the cupolas. “They were designed to draw attention to the building.”
Today, some residents of 25 Park Row, a newly constructed 50 story luxury condominium with 110 units located right next to the Park Row Building, can enjoy a front row view with popcorn over the cupolas. In addition, each residence in the building offers a northwest view of Town Hall grounds and the Woolworth Building, a consideration architect Rick Cook of CookFox Said played an important role in the architectural design of the building.
“We think these buildings are talking to each other around the urban hall of City Hall Park,” Cook said. “Light, shadow and depth are their common language, but they each have their own character, their own personality and their place in the urban experience.”
The building was put on the market for the first time in spring 2019. Fourteen units are still available, from $ 2.815 million for a two-bedroom and up to $ 12.5 million for a four-bedroom penthouse on the 42nd floor.
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