Carter B. Horsley
When Gordon Bunshaft of
Skidmore Owings &
Merrill designed a sloping skyscraper at 9 West 57th Street its
façade design was rejected by developer Sheldon Solow but
it was taken over for the building at 1114 Avenue of the Americas.
Bunshaft designed a sleeker façade, albeit with pretty
much the same form, for Solow and it become one of the most famous
buildings in midtown.
Richard Gluckman of Gluckman Mayner Architects, who achieved fame
for designs for high-profile art galleries in Chelsea and retail
spaces for designers including Yves Saint Laurent, designed the
rippled façade for this project and it is likely to be
imitated for it adds a lyrical, if not poetic, element to the
urban fabric, particularly at this location on the eastern boundary
of SoHo and the fringes of NoHo.
The project's website provides the following commentary about
the exterior's design:
"The Lafayette Street façade is composed of alternating
horizontal bands of brick & glass on an undulating curve that
shifts at every floor. The banded brick is reminiscent of the
old warehouse buildings that are part of this part of the city.
The brick on the front facades is a textured iridescent gray.
At different times of day, the brick will appear to change color,
from a silvery sheen to purple gray, to black. The rough 'artisan'
texture is intended to animate the façade. The continuous
aluminum windows are eight feet high. The windows on the street
facades are triple-glazed with laminated glass to provide an acoustic
separation from the street. A vertical notch in the building's
north and south faces splits the building in two. While the front
half of the building is rendered in the gray brick described above,
the volume of building facing the rear courtyard is rendered in
a silvery red brick with a smooth velour finish. The rear/West
façade of the Lafayette St. building is composed of a seemingly
random mix of punched openings. The pattern however is the result
of a formula in which every living room has at least 3 windows
and every bedroom has at least two windows."
This project is several blocks south from One Astor Place, a sinuously
curved glass apartment tower designed by Gwathmey Siegel Architects
about the same time as this project. Because it is a free-standing
tower in a more prominent location, comparisons with One Astor
Place, however, are unfair.
This "undulating" façade is subtle rather than
flamboyant. It is not going to challenge the wild gyrations of
Frank Gehry's recent buildings such as the Guggenheim Museum in
Bilbao, Spain, which was, undoubtedly, a distant influence.
Although one might quibble that the brick façade is not
as inspiring as one done in stainless steel, it should be noted
that design here is more than façade-deep. Here's the website's
description of the lobby:
"The entrance to the building...is flanked on either side
by piers that are wrapped in textured gray 'Pompeii' lava stone.
A canopy clad in anodized aluminum runs the length of the lobby
and through the door. The lobby walls and floor are clad in the
textured gray 'Pompeii' stone, cut in long, thin planks. The same
stone comes in from the outside to the inside of the lobby on
the floor and the walls. In the center of this linear space two
volumes are shaped from the same material. One is a long and low
volume that can function as a bench and the other a tall and wider
volume that conceals the mailboxes behind. A twelve-foot-high
wave of pale blue resin runs along the length of the north wall
- mimicking the same curve at the front façade."
Elevator cabs will have rounded corners on all sides and ceiling
-"surrounded by a translucent red/orange plastic surface,
smooth to the touch," the website tantalizingly noted.
The building will have a 24-hour doorman/concierge and video
It will also have storage lockers in the cellar and a fitness
Kitchens are equipped with Miele, Thermador, Bosch and Sub Zero
appliances with stainless steel finishes and white carrera marble
countertops with gray veins. Kitchen cabinets are finished in
gray lacquer. All apartments have Bosch washer/dryers. On floors
2 to 8, ceilings of the main spaces of apartments are
high. On floors 9 and 10, ceilings of the main spaces at 10-feet-high.
In the penthouse apartments on the 11th floor, the ceilings are
Apartments range in size from 450-square-foot studios to
The original architect, Jean Nouvel, was replaced by Gluckman,
whose other notable projects include the Dia Center for the Arts
in New York, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the Mori Art
Center in Tokyo and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and Study Center
in Santa Fe.
Its location, overlooking a small triangular park, is convenient
to Little Italy and very close to the great former Police Headquarters
Building that was converted to apartments and to Café Roma,
which has memorable cannolis. Kenmare Street turns into Delancey
Street at Bowery and Delancey Street runs into the Williamsburg
This 11-story, blue-gray-brick building was developed by Cape
Advisors Inc. and André Balazs, whose other New York properties
include the Mercer Hotel and 40 Mercer Street, a residential project.
Balazs also owns the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles and the Raleigh
in South Beach, Miami. Craig Wood and Curtis Bashaw are partners
in Cape Advisors, a privately held real estate development, investment
and management firm whose projects include the Congress Hall Hotel
and the Virginia Hotel, both in Cape May, New Jersey, and the
residential conversion of the former Electric Circus nightclub
site at 19-23 St. Mark's Place in the East Village.
Part of this development includes a six-story building on Crosby
Street that has loft-type apartments, one to a floor, while the
larger Lafayette Street building has apartments of varying sizes.
This building is across Kenmare Square from the wonderful Storefront
for Architecture retail space that was designed by Steven Holl
and Vito Acconci in 1993.
The Kenmare Square building
obviously is chuck
full of good ideas that are a bit tarnished by the rather drab
color of the facade. In 2009, Kenmare Square underwent a
but the surrounding context here is less than dazzling.