By Carter B. Horsley
This 35-story tower is one
of the most distinctive in the city with its curved corner and
continuous bands of balconies in its base.
Built by Bernard Spitzer
and Melvin Lipman and designed by Wechsler & Schimenti, this
beige-brick tower commands spectacular views of Central Park and
the curved facade of the 21-story base permits more apartments
to have park views. The setback tower, which occupies the top
14 floors is not curved, but has curved corner windows to maximize
views. The tower's facade has a horizontal fenestration pattern
that continues the banding motif of the base, albeit without balconies.
The building was erected
in 1963 and converted to a cooperative in 1984. It has 309 apartments
and is directly across Seventh Avenue from the very handsome New
York Athletic Club.
The building's entrance
is landscaped and spacious at the busy corner, which is an exit
for the Central Park Drive south road.
The building's location
is convenient both to midtown and the Lincoln Center district
and is close to many famous theme restaurants on 57th Street.
The building's design was
described by Robert A. M. Stern, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman
in their book, "New York 1960, Architecture And Urbanism
Between The Second World War And The Bicentennial," (The
Monacelli Press, 1995), as "a kind of aggressive, self-referential
Modernism that had hitherto been largely absent from Manhattan."
"To complement the sweeping curve..., a 'plazetta' was created
at the corner entrance - essentially a tiny landscaped taxi drop-off
of a type virtually unknown in New York apartment house design,
where corners had traditionally been filled with solid building.
Shocking though the building's shape was, so reminiscent of Morris
Lapidus's Fontainebleau Hotel (1954) in Miami, Florida, it had
its admirers. In 1979 Paul Goldberger praised its 'swooping curve,'
saying it was 'not a bad way at all for a large avenue to meet
Of course, it would help
to justify such a comment if both sides of the intersection were
similarly treated, which they are not.
Although the exterior finish is not magnificent,
the building's balconied base is impressive. This building has
more of a Miami- or Los Angeles-personality than the run-of-the-mill
New York apartment building, but then its location is certainly
not run-of-the-mill and the experimentation with form was unusual
and something to be applauded in the city when it was erected
and it more than four decades later it holds up well. The building
has a doorman, a driveway, a large lobby, a garage and many large
picture windows, but no health club and no sundeck.