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733 Park Avenue

Southeast corner at 71st Street

733 Park Avenue

733 Park Avenue, at left, looms over Asia Society

By Carter B. Horsley

"Of the avenue's postwar buildings, only 733 Park Avenue…presumed to vie with the great luxury houses of earlier decades in the size of its apartments," noted James Trager in his excellent 1990 book, "Park Avenue, Street of Dreams" (Atheneum).

The 30-story tower was completed in 1971 on the site of a former English-Regency-style mansion of Elihu Root that had been built in 1905 and designed by Carrère & Hastings. The 30-room mansion had been put up for sale by Mrs. Carll Tucker who had lived in it since 1915 and the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission had tried, without success, to save it.

The dark brown brick building contains only 28 condominium apartments, served by one passenger elevator, and is set in its own small landscaped plaza.

Marquee and entrance to 733 Park Avenue

The building was designed by Kahn & Jacobs and Harry F. Green for Stephen Muss.

The apartment layouts are impressive and grand, although the 8-foot-11-inch-ceiling heights were a bit above average, but not extraordinary. Most apartments have nine-and-a-half rooms. The lobby is appropriately and elegantly awash with travertine.

The building's plaza ruptured the avenue's solid wall of buildings, but no more so than the setback building of Hunter College, or the Seventh Regiment Armory, both a few blocks away.

It caused more harm, however, to the avenue's line of cornices from which it bursts forth quite prominently, affording its residents, of course, spectacular vistas. A couple of older buildings had exceeded the average building height of about 15 stories by a few floors, but 733 and another tower at 79th Street, 900 Park Avenue, soared above the rest. Both of these buildings, of course, have their sheer towers set back a bit from the avenue so that their impact on the avenue's famous vistas was not too severe. Nonetheless, many architecture critics and planners correctly decried these breaches in the cornice line as disruptive of the avenue's celebrated continuity.

It should be noted, however, that its immediate neighbor to the south on the same block is the polished red granite Asia Society, designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, which only has 7 floors, and the two complement one another to a certain extent and therefore mitigate a bit their break with traditional building size on the avenue. On the other hand, it also has the merit of obscuring much of the view of the Viscaya, a "sliver" apartment tower that went up a few years later just to the east of it on 71st Street.

While the minimalist facades leave much to be desired, this building's great location and the exclusivity of large, full-floor apartments make it a choice residence.

For more information about this building check its entry at CityRealty.com

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