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The Ardsley

320 Central Park West

The Ardsley

The Ardsley

By Carter B. Horsley

It is interesting that a preliminary drawing for the Ardsley showed that architect Emery Roth contemplated topping its watertank enclosure with a lantern-like finial, somewhat similar to those atop the towers of the El Dorado, one block to the south, on which Roth was the architect along with Margon & Holder.  Roth also designed such famous Central Park West buildings as the Beresford and the San Remo.

The built structure, however, does not need the finial tower as the boxiness of the composition is very effective and the tower would have distracted from its visual impact.  The striped masonry patterning on this building is striking and very strong. The building's park frontage is almost symmetrical, but the strong accents of the patterning are quite remarkable and original.

Elliot Willensky and Norval White remarked, in their book, 'The A. I. A. Guide to New York City,' (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988), that "there is a quality almost like that of inlaid furniture in the ribbons of contrasting brick which enrich the surfaces of the upper facades."

The Ardsley is one of Manhattan's most important Art Deco-style residential buildings.

View from the southeast

View from the southeast

In his fine book, "The Skyscraper Palazzi of Emery Roth," Steve Ruttenberg provided the following commentary about this building:

"This 22-story structure is dramatically different from every other Roth building that came before it, for there is no trace of historical styling in its rectilinear lines.  The only precedent it recalls is the massing of a prehistoric Mayan temple.  The Ardsley is Central Park West's most elaborately detailed Art Deco work.  Contrasting with its buff brick wall surfaces are vertical bands of black brick that sweep up the facades, imparting an upward thrust to the composition.  These are balanced by horizontal bands of black brick that relate the building to its streetscape.  Further, the horizontal and vertical bands converge in the upper stories and in the tower to create bold geometric patterns.

"Above the fifteenth floor, multiple setbacks and cantilevered balconies culminate in the stepped-back water tower, resulting in an animated yet balanced profile....Adding even more visual delight to this composition is a zigzag cast-stone frieze, consisting of geometric patterns in four-color inlay, is applied to the base.  The lower portion of the building is embellished further with pink-tinted cast-stone door surrounds, executed in voluptuously curving geometric forms."

The building, which has 900 rooms and 198 apartments, contains mostly small apartments except for duplex and triplex penthouses that have terraces, 15-foot-high ceilings and circular staircases, as well as dens, libraries, dressing rooms and servants' quarters, but Mr. Ruttenbaum noted that "even though these were high-class amenities, the were not quite the same as in Roth's earlier buildings.  The spaces were smaller, and the finishes were less elegant."

Building extends far into sidestreet

Ardsley extends deeply on sidestreet

The building, now a cooperative, was completed in 1931 and Roth was one of its developers.


On June 6, 2010, Fred A. Bernstein wrote that “the lobby of the Ardsley, a co-op on Central Park West at 92nd Street, is ready for its close-up. The designer Scott Salvator spent about two years restoring the building’s Art Deco interior — a series of spaces totaling about 4,000 square feet — before declaring the job complete. Though the work was largely finished over a year ago, Mr. Salvator wasn’t happy until a mirrored wall constructed off-kilter was rebuilt and paint-splattered curtains were replaced."

"The main space now has as huge Art Deco chandelier and murals digitally printed on canvas," the article continued.

Ardsley entrance


"His biggest change was to the outer lobby — he calls it the anteroom — where he commissioned a monumental desk in the same black marble that Roth chose for the baseboards. He also filled a hole in the wall where there had been an old intercom panel with a handsome new clock. (Although it has Art Deco-style hands, it also has a high-tech movement that automatically adjusts for daylight time.) And he lacquered the ceiling to make it reflect people’s movements through the lobby.

Ms. Ollman is particularly pleased with one of Mr. Salvator’s moves. "He installed a mirror," she joked, "that makes everyone look 15 pounds lighter." Mr. Salvator said the mirror had been "intentionally distorted, to look old and more period, and by accident it makes people look thinner."

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