Architecture practice Foster + Partners may be known on this side of the Atlantic for its latticed landmarks, from The Gherkin, to City Hall to Crossrail Place in Canary Wharf.
But over the Pond, its architects are finishing up on a small collection of highly unusual residences in the heart of Manhattan.
Much like the City of London, Midtown is largely centred around work. But increasing inner city congestion is forcing more New Yorkers to consider buying a place in the centre of town again to avoid spending half their day stuck in traffic.
“We want to celebrate the concrete and enhance it to create this almost downtown gallery-like space.”
The 63-storey tower at 100 East 53rd Street
Located just off Park Avenue, this limited collection of lofts started life as a potential Shangri-La hotel. Then the 2008 recession hit and, like many developments at the time, it was put on hold. It wasnt picked up again until 2014, this time by German-born real estate tycoon Aby Rosen, and his firm RFR.
Rosens personal art collection now furnishes one of the residences, while the other masquerades as a sales gallery. Spread across five floors of the 63 storey tower, the lofts make very convincing art galleries with their neutral concrete walls, floor-to-ceiling windows and vast open spaces.
In fact, they were designed specifically for art collectors and to complement its iconic mid-century neighbours, namely the Museum of Modern Art, Lever House and the Seagram Building, which is also owned by RFR.
A CGI of the amenity pool, due to be completed this winter
“Theres a whole heritage of modernist tradition and we want to be complementary to that environment,” says Peter Han, a partner in Foster + Partners New York office. Thats also why the one and two bedroom homes, ranging from 1,140sqft to 4,607sqft, are packed with striking industrial features, such as fluted concrete flooring, exposed concrete columns, and diamond-polished high-grade concrete flooring.
“We thought, why hide it?”, Han says. “We want to celebrate the concrete and enhance it to create this almost downtown gallery-like space.”
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The architecture is softer than many of the harsh, glass office towers nearby, with an undulating facade that has seamless window vents. Reveals in the ceiling also feature customised lighting systems, that can be used to light art or create a specific ambience, “the options are pretty much unlimited, and thats a first in any residence Ive seen in New York City,” says Han.
Residents dont even need to leave the building to eat well in one of two Joel Rubuchon restaurants on site, work out in the wellbeing suite or relax in the grand library. Completions are expected later this year.
“Its refined, its elegant and the finish is absolutely beautiful,” Han adds.
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