Tag Archives: 1988

279 Central Park West

279 Central Park West, completed in 1988, is among the youngest buildings on the avenue, yet it is part of New York’s Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District. I suspect that it’s included because it was easier for the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to leave the building in the district than to specifically exclude it.

The architect, Constantine Kondylis, is often associated with Donald Trump projects (including Trump International Hotel and Tower at the foot of Central Park West). But 279 Central Park West is a far cry from the black or gold glass boxes that The Donald is fond of.

As a modern building, it lacks the ornate facades typical of the district, but 279 is still pleasing for its three-story limestone base, inset bay windows, curved corner windows, and eight terraced setbacks. Thanks to luxury amenities and location (or in spite of location, if one doesn’t want to be so far uptown), apartments in this condo have million-dollar price tags. Or you can rent. At this writing, there’s a three-bedroom, 2,855 sq. ft. duplex available for just $22,000 a month.

279 Central Park West Vital Statistics
279 Central Park West Recommended Reading

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The Corinthian

The Corinthian condominiums on East 38th Street isn’t a landmark structure – yet – but it is certainly one of New York’s most distinctive buildings, residential or otherwise. The 57-story* “bundled tubes” design creates enormous semi-circular bay windows on all five (yes, five) asymmetrical sides arranged to maximize everyone’s view; private balconies are nestled between the tubes. (Google’s satellite view reveals The Corinthian’s unique shape.)

The full-block site is lavishly landscaped – even the roof has gardens; a fountain cascades in front of the grand entry; a public plaza forms the First Avenue border. The park-like setting isn’t mere decoration – The Corinthian sits at the entrance to the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and the greenery minimizes the sights and sounds of traffic. (The East Side Airlines Terminal stood here prior to 1987: the location was ideal for quick exits to La Guardia and JFK airports.)

The development’s other amenities include an indoor swimming pool, underground garage, fitness club with running track and outdoor sun deck.

The amenities, location, views and luxurious design come at a price, naturally. According to City Realty’s listing, apartments cost from $545,000 (studio) to $5.85 million (5BR), depending on floor and exposure.

The Corinthian was designed by Michael Schimenti and Der Scutt Architects, built in 1987 and opened in 1988.

* Depending on the source, the height of The Corinthian is 54, 55 or 57 stories; we’re using the height reported in the owner’s website.

The Corinthian Vital Statistics
  • Location: 330 E 38th Street (off First Avenue)
  • Year completed: 1988
  • Architect: Michael Schimenti and Der Scutt Architects
  • Floors: 57
  • Style: Postmodern
The Corinthian Suggested Reading

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International Plaza

International Plaza (aka 750 Lexington Avenue) brings striking colors and shapes to upper midtown Manhattan – though not without a puzzle or two.

The 30-story office tower was designed by Helmut Jahn and completed in 1988. The conical-stepped crown – visible only from a distance – is the structure’s most distinctive feature; it caps a cobalt blue glass cylinder buttressed by glass and granite wings above a 13-floor granite and glass base. From certain angles the tower reminds one of a satellite with its solar arrays unfurled. The glass and steel of the building’s granite base are tinted blue-green; along Lexington Avenue, the street-level stores have two-floor bowed display windows. The base is set back generously along East 59th and East 60th Streets and Lexington Avenue – not quite the plaza that the building’s name claims, but more than twice the average sidewalk width for the neighborhood.

Two puzzles erupt from International Plaza’s side facades. The main entrance on East 59th Street is under a boxy three-story portico that doesn’t seem to fit. And on the East 60th Street side, a four-story grey box juts out into the sidewalk, with no apparent purpose. Further, the box is pierced by windows and doors of another era, as though torn from the face of a brownstone. A memorial to a former occupant of the site?

As it turns out, that is what remains of 134 E 60th Street, a townhouse whose last tenant refused to move. The stubborn holdout died in the 1990s, but the townhouse remains. (Untapped Cities blog).

Chicago-based Helmut Jahn designed five other distinctive buildings in New York – three of which were completed in 1987: 425 Lexington Avenue (31 floors, across E43rd Street from the Chrysler building); CitySpire Center (75 floors); Park Avenue Tower (36 floors); America Apartments (37 floors). The fifth (and most recent – 1989) structure is the 12-story Metropolitan Transportation Authority building in downtown Brooklyn.

International Plaza Vital Statistics
  • Location: 750 Lexington Avenue between E 59th and E 60th Streets
  • Year completed: 1988
  • Architect: Helmut Jahn
  • Floors: 30
  • Style: Postmodern
International Plaza Suggested Reading

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135 East 57th Street

135 East 57th Street breaks the mold by breaking the building line – biting off the sacred corner to create a plaza backed by a concave tower.

Coincidentally, the 31-story tower complements 30-story International Plaza two blocks north – which has similar coloration and was also completed in 1988. The New York Times observed, “…together the buildings engage in a wonderful, even witty, piece of inadvertent dialogue on the cityscape.”

135 East 57th Street Vital Statistics
135 East 57th Street Recommended Reading

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17 State Street

17 State Street is a stunning curved mirror-glass tower opposite Battery Park, framed in aluminum. The curved facade is not just for theatrics: that’s the shape of the lot, where State Street decides to switch from running north-south to east-west. The building floor plan resembles a quarter of a pie. Up close, you’ll also notice that there is no real first floor – just a glass-enclosed lobby (much like the Lever Building) and elevators; the building rests on cross-braced aluminum-clad columns.

The site has some history: it was the site of the Seaman’s Church Institute, and also the site of the house where Herman Melville was born, in 1819.

17 State Street Vital Statistics
17 State Street Recommended Reading

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74 E 79th Street

74 E 79th Street is an oddity of New York architecture: Three landmark row houses gave their lives to let this 19-story tower rise.

The result was jeered by the “AIA Guide to New York City” as “A strange tower looms over Victorian town houses: Parisian Left Bank studios at the top, boredom at the waist, and a rich row of brick and brownstone along the street-front (all part of a zoning package).”

According to The New York Times’ account, the original developer got a Buildings Department permit to erect an 18-story apartment tower at 72 and 74 E 79th Street in 1980 – but demolition of the old buildings was delayed. In 1981 the Landmarks Preservation Commission created the Upper East Side Historic District, which includes those buildings. Meanwhile, new owners applied to change their plans; Department of Buildings agreed to the changes. Preservationists, including the LPC, cried foul and sued to stop work.

The plot thickens: City Council passed the “sliver law” prohibiting ultra-narrow buildings. The proposed structure didn’t meet “sliver law” standards, so the project came to a screeching halt. By the time that the Department of Buildings was able to green-light the project – but back with the original plans – the partner with the financing lost interest.

The owner of 76 E 79th Street then swooped in, buying the unbuildable lots next door. The new three-lot site was now wide enough to satisfy the “sliver law” and a new tower plan was devised to incorporate the historic row house facades.

74 E 79th Street Vital Statistics
74 E 79th Street Recommended Reading

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