“Pre-war” buildings by architects such as Rosario Candela, J.E.R. Carpenter and Charles Platt are greatly loved and admired by Manhattanites. These top of the line residential buildings represent the crème de la crème of 1920s-era residential design. They were New York City’s first true luxury apartment buildings, designed to show affluent city dwellers that multi-family dwellings could be superior to the town home.
Hundreds of these buildings can be found in Manhattan today, some even on New York’s famed Park Avenue which remains as sought-after an address as ever. In this context, a new residential building rising up in the neighborhood has to meet a high standard for aesthetics, amenities and marketability.
Designing the facade for 1110 Park Avenue, a new residential development from luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers, was a special opportunity to rise to that standard. Due for a summer 2015 completion, the luxury dwelling may be the last new building of its kind and size in this neighborhood on Park Avenue. The area was recently designated a historic district.
In designing 1110 Park Avenue a number of key considerations emerged that made this extraordinary building possible.
1. Respect the context, live up to the history of the neighborhood.
For 1110 Park Avenue, we created a “classical” building façade that could interact nicely with the buildings nearby. The style and the feel of those Candela and Carpenter buildings inspired us as we created the building. Ultimately, we designed a building that we felt lived up to the history of the neighborhood, both in quality and style of materials and design.
2. Give it presence.
We strove to create a building that would both fit with its neighborhood context, yet stand apart from its neighbors. Because it occupies a narrow site between two 100 ft wide brick corner buildings that wrap around our building, we needed to create a strong presence for 1110 Park Ave. The character of the building façade as well as the decision to use natural Indiana Limestone help achieve this presence.
3. Design for modern lifestyles of modern day buyers.
As beautiful and desirable as they are, pre-war buildings were not designed to respond to the modern lifestyle. Our contextual designs had to meet modern buyers’ needs and expectations. We gave the building higher floor-to-floor ceiling heights and bigger windows than you’d see in pre-war residences, and space to match.
Amenities, too, are laid-out to modern tastes. The building’s special units, such as the penthouse, are designed with terraces adjacent to indoor entertaining areas for example. The penthouse unit features an outdoor lap pool, an outdoor kitchen with range, and outdoor fireplace. The units below feature their own terraces and Juliette balconies.
4. Design for the brand.
Having worked with Toll Brothers in finishing the design for another luxury property in Manhattan, I was very familiar with the brand and understood the character the builder desired for this building. Knowing what the Toll Brothers were most enthusiastic about allowed us to achieve an appropriate standard for the brand at 1110 Park Ave.
5. Use NY zoning code to our advantage.
New York zoning code has a height requirement for new buildings as well as a set-back requirement. In the facades for 1110 Park, we promote the strong street wall line while paying respect to the neighboring buildings.We could have set the line ten feet lower, but we chose to make the line an extension of the buildings that are adjacent, resulting in visual harmony and continuity with the strong existing street wall.
6. Build to a high standard.
The client wanted top of the line everything and got it. This was a project in which corners were not cut. 1110 Park is built with high-grade materials, such as the finest limestone from an Indiana quarry, cut and shaped in Madison, WI. The fabricators, Quarra Stone Company, were selected for their dedication to high quality craftsmanship. They are known for their state-of-the-art manufacturing as well as their alliance with Germany’s master stone carving programs.
7. Design for the market.
It isn’t obvious at first, but the 16-story building is divided amongst just 9 units–triplexes, duplexes and a few simplex flats. The luxury appointments, the size of the units and the number of bedrooms in these units are designed to appeal to a family settling in the highly affluent Upper East Side neighborhood.