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353 Central Park West

Northwest corner at 95th Street

353 Central Park West

Building is tall tower in center

By Carter B. Horsley

One of the newer apartment houses on Central Park West, this 19-story building was erected as a condominium in 1992 and is one of the few residential buildings in the city whose top is illuminated at night. It thus joins an illustrious and exclusive group of such buildings on Central Park West as the San Remo, the Beresford and the Eldorado.

This building presents an interesting contrast with a similar tower, which has no illuminated top, at 279 Central Park West (see The City Review article) at 88th Street. Both were erected under special "contextual" zoning that mandated multiple setbacks above the boulevard's traditional building wall height of about 15 stories and both have similar silhouettes. The building at 279 is notable for its curved-glass corner windows while this one has traditional non-curved corner windows, but they are floor-to-ceiling with white reveals while the rest of the building is red-brick.

In her book, "New York, A Guide to Recent Architecture," (Ellipsis London Limited, 1998), Susanna Sirefman commented on the elaborate planning process that this building went through and remarked that "a major topic of discussion was the setbacks occurring on buildings along the street." "To create this popular cascading effect, 353 meets the street wall at ground plane, rising to a 150-foot cornice level. A series of stepped-back terraces then recedes from both the avenue and the street elevations, resulting in a turret-topped penthouse and watertower," Sirefman wrote. The "cascading" terraces may be popular for the residents, but are not necessarily popular with architecture critics unless they help create a nice composition. Here they do, but in some other "contextual" and terraced buildings of the same "generation, they are not.

Building's entrance

Building's entrance

"The condominium floorplans are as conservative as the building exterior. One apartment per floor (there are only 16 in total) allows reiterative elements to be expressed on the facades. Inside, marble entryways, maid's quarters, rosewood floors and woodburning fireplaces set the tone. The views over Central Park are stunning."

Although smaller than 279, 353 Central Park West is a far more attractive building. On the other hand, it is seven blocks further north.

A subway station and excellent cross-town bus service is half a block away to the north at 96th Street.

While low key, this is a very fine building and one of the city's best postwar residential buildings. The building was erected by Kiska Developers and was designed by Yorancioglu Architects and The Vilkas Group. It has no garage and no sundeck.

 

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