778 Park Avenue
By Carter B. Horsley
One of the few pre-World War II apartment towers
to rise a bit above the 15-story height of most of the avenue's
apartment buildings, this 18-story apartment building was designed
by Rosario Candela for developer Charles Newmark.
The building, which has a four-story limestone
base, replaced an apartment house known as the Sunnyside and according
to James Trager's book, "Park Avenue, Street of Dreams,"
(Atheneum, 1990), "was sometimes itself called the Sunnyside."
Candela is widely considered to have been the
country’s greatest designer of luxury apartment buildings
and he collaborated with many of the city’s most famous architectural
Candela’s buildings, "it is said,
were the grandest of the decade that was itself the greatest,"
wrote Elizabeth Hawes in her book, "New York, New York, How
The Apartment House Transformed The Life Of The City (1869-1930)",
published by Henry Holt in 1993.
"He had a respect for privacy and an eye
for significant detail. He was a complete thinker. He added duplicate
water connections to street mains and multiple switches for ceiling
lights as well as beautifully turned staircases and separate wine
cellars. More significantly, he designed buildings from the inside
out. He placed windows where they received light, balanced a room,
or allowed a graceful arrangement of furniture…. Candela
also invested unusual energy in the entry hall. In a typical apartment,
he made it a full-sized room with rich views into the interior
because he thought it was important to greet a visitor with a
full sense of a home…. Candela liked puzzles. During the
Depression, he took up cryptography, and during World War II,
he broke the Japanese code," Hawes wrote.
Born in Sicily, Candela came to the United
States in 1909 and graduated from the Columbia school of architecture
in 1915. His other famous buildings include 834 and 960 Fifth
Avenue, 720, 740, 770 and 775 Park Avenue, and 19 East 72nd Street,
all considered among the most glamorous addresses in the city.
Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin and Thomas
Mellins devote considerable attention to Candela in their book,
"New York 1930, Architecture and Urbanism Between The Two
World Wars," Rizzoli, 1987:
"Candela's smaller English Renaissance
apartment house at 778 Park Avenue… entered into a remarkably
coherent and lively dialogue with his earlier work at 770 Park
Avenue; the pair of towered buildings formed a monumental gateway
west toward Central Park. At 778 Candela compensated for the regularity
of the facades with lavish concentrations of boldly modeled ornament
at the corners in the form of quoining and at the limestone base
where the second and third-floor windows were grouped together
between pilasters supporting fulsome swan’s neck pediments
to describe a piano nobile."
Completed in 1931, it has one of the avenue's
more distinctive watertank enclosures.
An August 2, 2007 article by Brandon Keil
in The New York Post stated that William Lauder, president and
CEO of Estee Lauder, was approved by the building's board to purchase
a 14-room apartment with 5 bedrooms, 7 1/2 baths, wood-burning
fireplaces and three terraces on the 14th floor for about $27.5
million. The seller was Sherman Cohen. The apartment is 11 floors
above an apartment that was being put on the market at about the
same time by Vera Wang, the designer, for $35 million. (8/4/07)
The asking price for the 14-room duplex
apartment on the 15th and 16th floors at 778 Park Avenue that
had been owned by the late Brooke Astor has been reduced from
about $34 million to $29 million.
It was originally offered last spring at
$46 million soon after the widow of the late Vincent Astor passed
away last year at the age of 105 by Leighton Candler, a broker
with the Corcoran Group.
A October 31, 2008 article in The New York
Times by Josh Barbanel reported that "when the great market
meltdown of 2008 is long over, and our profligate ways return,
the sale of the duplex apartment owned by the late Brooke Astor
at 778 Park Avenue may be remembered as the great co-op deal of
Well that meltdown is not long over yet
but the apartment is now being handled by Kirk Henckels, Margaret
Furniss and Philippa Ward of Stribling. In Mr. Barbanel's article,
Mr. Henckels had been quoted as stating that "to get it sold
quickly, they had to make it a bargain," adding "it
was a very smart move."
The building is a cooperative and was designed
by Rosario Candela and is located on the northwest corner of 73rd
Street and Park Avenue. According to Mr. Barbanel's article, the
building permits construction "only during regular working
hours from May 15 to Sept. 15," a period he described as
the "sawdust season." (2/6/09)
A Page Six article in the
February 14, 2011 edition of The New York Post said that "The
magnificent Park Avenue duplex where society icon Brooke Astor lived for decades is about to be sold
for a fire-sale price. The prospective buyer is Daniel Forcart,
47, a Swiss investment manager, reports The Post's Jennifer Gould
Keil. He's agreed to pay $19 million for the pad, which was listed in
2008 for $46 million. A real estate
source said the discount 'had nothing to do' with the notoriety of the
apartment, where Astor's son, Anthony Marshall, confined her as
he tried to steal her fortune before she died at 105 at her Westchester estate
in 2007. He's appealing his conviction. A source close to Forcart told Page Six
he was drawn to 778 Park Ave., designed by Rosario Candela, and could picture
himself spending 'the rest of his life' there. 'The architecture is fantastic,
the proportions of the rooms are magnificent - there is so much light and 360
degree views,' the source said. But the place needs a lot of work, say others.
Forcart has yet to receive board approval, but it's expected to come