By Carter B. Horsley
This sumptuous, 14-story apartment building
was designed by Rosario Candela and is widely considered one of
his greatest luxury apartment designs and one of the city's most
His original design for developer Anthony Campagna,
however, was for a narrower structure.
In his fine book, "The New York Apartment
Houses of Rosario Candela and James Carpenter" (Acanthus
Press, 2001), Andrew Alpern provides the following commentary
about this building:
"Of the six houses on the block front
between 64th and 65th Street, Campagna had been able to acquire
only the four central ones after two years of negotiation. As
a result, the plans he originally filed were for a symmetrical,
120-foot-wide structure on the mid-block site of those houses.
After construction work was well along using the first design
, the holdout house of the 64th Street corner was acquired from
owner Margaret V. Haggin. In April 1930, the plans were changed
to accommodate the larger site and the building was asymmetrically
extended southward. Mrs. Haggin was the second wife and widow
of James Ben Ali Haggin, who had died in his 90s about 1915. She
moved in to a duplex apartment in the new completed 834 Fifth
Avenue, and remained there until her own death in 1965."
Mr. Alpern's book reproduces the rendering for the original smaller
builder as well as a photograph of the Haggin mansion on the corner
with the steel work for Campagna's building rising above it just
to the north. Mr. Alpern also noted that Laurance Rockefeller
commissioned Harrison & Abramovitz in 1948 to design a triplex
penthouse apartment in the building that he occupied for many
The building was completed in 1931 and is directly
across from the entrance to the Central Park Zoo.
The limestone-clad façade is rusticated
at its base and has some Art Deco-style cartouches. The building
has many duplex apartments with grand living spaces facing Central
Park and one tenant once had a chinchilla rug in the den.
One of the world's most desirable and expensive
addresses, the 24-unit building has a concierge, a doorman, an
elevator person, an attractive, canopied entrance, and sidewalk
landscaping. Although it is a large building, it only has about
two apartments per floor.
In his book, "The City Observed, New York,
A Guide To The Architecture of Manhattan," (Vintage Books,
1979), Paul Goldberger, then architecture critic of The New
York Times, noted that Candela's buildings "were always
understated," adding that "The windows are vast, not
so much out of a desire to bring light in as because the rooms
themselves are immense and the windows are scaled to them."
"This is architecture that represents not aspiration, but
arrival, a self-assuredness that earlier, more ornate buildings
could only strive toward. It is a bit reserved but…it brings
admiration rather than irritation. You know that this is strong
enough so that the whole image of elegance would not fall apart
if the doorman forgot to wear white gloves one day."
The building has a doorman, a concierge, and
sidewalk landscaping. It has some terraces, but no balconies and
no garage and no health club.
The triplex penthouse that for
many years was owned by Laurance Spellman Rockefeller and, according
to a story on the front page of The New York Times was
bought for $44 million by Rupert Murdoch, the publisher of The
New York Post and the head of News Corp, in mid-December,
2004. The reported sales price is allegedly the highest paid for
a cooperative apartment in the city's history. Laurance Rockefeller
was the middle brother of five prominent grandsons of John D.
Rockefeller. He died July 11, 2004 at the age of 94. He was well
known as a venture capitalist and environmentalist. (12/21/06)
An article by Josh Barbanel in the August
26, 2007 edition of The New York Times indicated that a
couple purchased a duplex apartment in the building for $35 million
from "Loida Lewis, the widow of Reginald F. Lewis, the billionaire
chief executive of Beatrice Foods" and that the apartment
had previously been owned by "the widow of Harry Payne Bingham,
the sportsman and philanthropist, members of the Dodge automotive
family, and John Z. DeLorean, the automobile executive."
An article in the November 12, 2007 edition
of The New York Observer reported that Mark Rachesky, chairman
of Leap Wireless, paid $33,444,500 for a ninth-floor duplex that
had been owned by Loida Lewis, whose late husband, Reginald Lewis,
was the chief executive officer of Beatrice Foods. (11/15/07)
A December 30, 2007 article by Christopher
Gray in The New York Times noted that the building's "only
hint of extravagance is on the 64th Street side, where a double-height
opening on the 11th and 12th floors lights the stair hall of the
duplex there." The article also contained details about the
apartment bought by Mr. Murdoch, noting that in September, 1929,
Hugh B. Baker, a banker and stockbroker, bought the building's
top three floors," adding that "A sweeping stairway
connected all three levels." "The 15th floor was for
entertaining, with a 21-by-33-foot living room on the north side
and a 19-by-27-foot dining room on the south. The living room
had a small conservatory designed by Howard & Frenaye, and
the plans for the dining room indicate a niche, perhaps for a
fountain or large piece of sculpture. The 16th floor, on the roof,
was drawn with a high square observatory, perhaps 20 feet on a
side, flanked by terraces north and south, each one double the
size of the room itself," the article continued.