This 17-story building had
the distinction of being the only light blue-brick, high-rise,
residential building in Manhattan.
Like much in the city, however,
that distinction was short-lived for in 2001 it was reported that
the building would change the color of its brick façade.
The Museum Tower on West
53rd Street adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art has some blue
glass on its facades, and the Mondrian on East 53rd Street also
has some deep blue glass on its facades, and there are numerous
pre-war buildings that have some blue in their terra-cotta decorative
façade elements, but only this building was bold enough
to experiment extensively with blue masonry above the first floor.
It was erected in 1963 and
converted to a cooperative in 1984. It has 83 apartments.
The light blue color is
not unattractive, and somewhat of a relief from the more commonplace
white- and gray-brick buildings that proliferated in the late
1950's after the success of Manhattan House, the large white-brick,
full-block residential complex between Third and Second Avenues
and 65th and 66th Streets. White became popular because it signified
modernity and because it "lightened" the urban palette.
For about a generation, most new "luxury" residential
high-rise construction in the city imitated Manhattan House's
light-colored facades, although few matched its lush landscaping
and extensive, transparent lobbies and strong massing. In time,
such construction, which was generally devoid of pre-war detailing,
fell out of favor because of its architectural blandness and the
emerging popularity of Post-Modern designs, first, and new modern
There is no reason that
urban architecture should not have a full palette of colors, but
developers and lenders tend to be conservative and not surprisingly
have concerns about the effect of exotic colors on their marketing.
There are a few "dark" buildings and one might argue
that a deep blue façade might be quite interesting. It
could be argued that light-blue buildings "fade" into
the sky, often, but a more important concern, especially in recent
years with heightened interest in historic preservation, is the
nature of the neighborhood context. Does a chosen façade
color clash with or compliment its neighbors? A couple of white-brick
apartment houses on the Upper East Side - 35 East 85th Street
and 7 East 86th Street - opted to replace their facades with red
bricks at the start of the millennium, an indication of disenchantment
with such facades, part of which is also explained by the fact
that many of the older "white" and "gray"
brick facades had significant "spalling" problems in
the city's freeze-thaw cycles that caused major façade
This building has a prime
Upper East Side location that is very convenient to the Midtown
office district as well as the fashionable boutiques, restaurants
and art galleries on Madison Avenue. Central Park is only a block
away to the east and because it is across from the low-rise Giorgio
Armani store on Madison Avenue, this building has considerable
"light and air" as well as many good views. The side-streets
in this vicinity are among the finest in the city and a subway
station is not far away at 67th Street and Lexington Avenue.
This building has a one-story,
polished black granite base and a taxi lamp at the corner. It
has a curved red canopy and high-end retail spaces. Ferrier, a
restaurant, occupies part of its sidestreet frontage. It has a
garage, a doorman, discrete air-conditioners, sidewalk landscaping,
consistent fenestration and some terraces. There is considerable
traffic on Madison Avenue and the building has no balconies.
A July 2, 2004 article
in The New York Times reported that "After a two-year
court battle, workers are moving ahead to strip the signature
blue bricks off the facade of the co-op apartment house at 27
East 65th Street, at the corner of Madison Avenue."
"A panel of the
Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court ruled this
month in favor of the co-op board in its long-running dispute
with Elliott E. Sutton, 62, a real estate investor who controls
the building's ground-floor commercial space as an equal partner
with the co-op board."
the article continued, "cleared the way for the co-op board
to get a $6.8 million mortgage that will refinance an existing
loan and provide some $3 million to replace the blue bricks with
ordinary red ones, according to Gil Feder, a lawyer for the firm
Reed Smith, which represents the board. The wrangling began in
early 2002, when city inspectors said the facade of the 17-story
building, which was built in 1963, was in danger of crumbling
and ordered a scaffold erected....Mr. Sutton worried that his
ground-floor restaurant, Ferrier, and other tenants including
a Citibank branch, would lose business the longer the project
took and he argued for a quick job that would merely replace bad
bricks in patchwork fashion. The two sides landed in court, and
both the blue bricks and the scaffold stayed, and stayed and stayed.
The co-op applied for a mortgage to finance the brickwork, but
Mr. Sutton, as joint owner of the property, refused to sign the
loan papers. After a series of arbitration and court decisions,
a judge finally ruled that the co-op could sign on behalf of its
unwilling partner. That decision was upheld by the appellate panel.
Mr. Sutton, however, says he will ask the New York State Court
of Appeals in Albany, the state's highest court, to take up the
case. In a court hearing last January, Justice Jane S. Solomon
of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan wondered aloud about the
long-running feud. 'Does your client have an emotional connection
to blue brick?' she asked one of Mr. Sutton's lawyers. The judge's
question was repeated to Mr. Sutton last week. 'I don't care if
it's blue, black, green or orange,' he said. 'I only own the ground
floor. I don't look up.' (7/5/04)