Carter B. Horsley
The 19-story rental apartment
building at 945
Fifth Avenue on the southeast corner at 76th Street was erected
by the Rudin family in 1949 on the former site of Temple Beth-El,
an 1891 structure designed by Brunner & Tyron. The temple
had merged in 1927 with Temple Emanu-El and two years later the
merged congregation moved into a new structure on the northeast
corner of Fifth Avenue and 65th Street designed by Kohn, Butler
& Stein with Goodhue Associates (see The
City Review article).
In their fine book, "New York
and Urbanism Between The Second World War and the Bicentennial,"
Robert A. M. Stern, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman wrote that
"because there was no demand for Temple Beth-El's grandly
domed building or its site, the structure stood unused until it
was demolished in 1947, when the economy was at last robust enough
to support a new building."
The new building, which also
has an address
of 2-4 East 76th Street, was designed by Emery Roth & Sons
and was described by the authors as a "straightforward composition
rendered in beige brick above a two-story limestone base."
"Its principal facade was distinguished primarily by a centrally
located vertical row of recessed balconies and culminated in a
series of upper-story setbacks, some with chamfered corners. At
the top, the elevator machinery and the building's water tower
were house in a spectacularly massed octagon."
The watertank enclosure is the
on Fifth Avenue as it rises in two setbacks with oculi on the
first and it conjures to a certain extent the aesthetics of Mayan
temples or battleship leviathans.
The building has a canopied
entrance, a doorman,
windowed kitchens, windowed baths, and protruding air-conditioning
units, but no roofdeck and no sidewalk landscaping. The entrance
is contained in a two-story recess.