By Carter B. Horsley
One of the anchors of the "new" residential
Third Avenue on the Upper East Side, the Phoenix was one of the
first of the many tall towers that would transform the avenue
in the 60's into one of the city's most attractive enclaves.
Built in 1969, the 31-story tower, which occupies
the west avenue frontage between 64th and 65th Streets, rises
without setbacks above its one one-story commercial base. That
base was distinguished by its handsome and unusual angularity
that was set back from the building line providing more sidewalk
space. By setting the retail base in a distinctly different architecture
style from the tower, this building established a trend that would
be followed by many of its neighboring towers. The treatment here
remains the best as it is open, inviting, and markedly different.
In the 1960s, many urban planners were concerned that too many
new buildings, especially in midtown, had blank walls along the
street that they felt were deadening and unattractive. The angled
bays here are pedestrian-friendly but they also are store friendly
because it is not a continuous straight wall of shopwindows.
The building's center, containing the elevator
core, along the avenue was recessed considerably to give the building
a more interesting form. Its north and south facades are enlivened
considerably by the asymmetrical placing of the windows.
The 179-unit tower has no balconies, but most
apartments have corner windows and superb views.
Although later towers in the area would have
a bit more gloss, this helped set the standard with its spacious
lobby and landscaped entrance and unusual plaza. A small garden
designed by M. Paul Friedberg is behind the lobby. Its location
is superb and relatively quiet for this neighborhood.
It was converted to a cooperative in 1984.
View from the northeast
The building was designed by Emery Roth &
Sons, who also designed the somewhat similar Tower East (see The City Review article) further up the
avenue at 72nd Street in 1962.