By Carter B. Horsley
One of the first major projects designed by
Richard Roth Jr., one of the "sons" in the famous architectural
firm of Emery Roth & Sons, Tower East was a radical departure
from traditional high-rise apartment building design in New York.
Initiated just before the 1961 Zoning Resolution
that promoted the use of plazas to provide more public space and
also permit taller buildings that did not fully occupy their sites,
this tower became a prototype for many others, especially to the
south on Third Avenue: a tall tower set on a low-rise base. Unlike
the Seagram Building on Park Avenue that actually created a large
public plaza and was highly influential in the rationale for much
of the new zoning in 1961, this handsome tower does not provide
street-level public space, but its freestanding tower, setback
from the base on all sides, does provide considerably more "light
and air" to its surroundings (as well as casting a longer
The 34-story, 132-unit cooperative apartment
tower is quite distinguished and far more attractive than the
previous generation's minimal "white brick monstrosities."
With its bronze-color window sashes and dark-tinted picture windows
and its exposed-concrete piers on the east and west facades, it
conjures up pin-strip suit snazziness. Interestingly, the north
and south facades are treated differently with inset exposed-concrete
walls that do not extend to the building's corners. These facades
make the building appear somewhat less "commercial"
than the east and west facades that could be mistaken for an office
"Richard Jr. created this building in
a conscious effort to break way from the past and delineate a
new, modern image for apartment houses. Following the passage
of the new zoning ordinance, this type of sheer tower became commonplace
all over the city," noted Steven Ruttenbaum in his book,
"Mansions in The Clouds, the Skyscraper Palazzi of Emery
Roth," (Balsam Press Inc., 1986).
Tower East was built by Tishman Realty &
Construction Company. It replaced the Loew's Seventy-Second Street
movie palace that had been designed by Thomas Lamb and John Eberson
in 1932. The new building has a 500-seat movie theater with an
entrance on Third Avenue.
There are four apartments per floor and all
have quite spacious L-shaped living rooms with two exposures,
entrance gallery and a maid's room that doubles as a den off the
kitchen. The bathrooms have no windows.