Tag Archives: Gwathmey Siegel & Associates

U.S. Mission to the United Nations

The fortress-like Ronald H. Brown U.S. Mission to the United Nations replaces a 12-story glass-and-cast-stone slab on the same site. The stark white tower contrasts with the taller blue-green glass of UN Plaza, which wraps around the mission and adjacent Uganda House. Ronald H. Brown served as Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton, and died in a plane crash while on a trade mission to Croatia.

While the need for more space dictated a new building, the need for security dictated the concrete construction, unflatteringly likened to a bunker. Inside the tower, staff and visitors even have separate elevators.

U.S. Mission to the United Nations Vital Statistics
U.S. Mission to the United Nations Recommended Reading

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Langham Place

Langham Place (formerly Setai Fifth Avenue) is a towering grid of limestone, concrete and glass with emphatic vertical lines that mimic the nearby Empire State Building.

The 57-story building is a mix of retail (floors 1-3), 214-room hotel (4-26), and 164 condominium apartments (28-56). The 10-story limestone base has a rounded corner; a 46-story sheer concrete tower sits atop that. Unusual floor-to-ceiling windows – two panes angled with the bottom pane facing down, top pane facing up – are paired in columns all around. On the residential floors, corner apartments have wrap-around windows. The windows give Langham Place’s facade a unique faceted texture – quite striking from nearby.

The two-story flared stainless steel crown hides water tanks and other mechanical details, and elevator machinery. The crown is illuminated at night.

Among other notable projects in New York City, Gwathmey Siegel & Associates designed the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, W New York Downtown, and Astor Place Tower.

Langham Place Vital Statistics
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Astor Place

Astor Place, a blue-green glass exclamation point in NoHo, leaps up from the center of an architecture-rich neighborhood.* New York critics’ opinions seem as varied as the surrounding buildings.

The New York Times‘ review asked, All That Curvy Glass: Is It Worth It? Suzanne Slesin noted a disconnect “between the grittiness of the neighborhood and the shiny newness of Mr. Gwathmey’s design,” but focused on interiors. She loved the views from within all that wraparound floor-to-ceiling glass, but bemoaned the paucity of solid wall space for paintings and other essentials. (You can peruse floor plans at the Street Easy NY listing.)

The New Yorker called it the Green Monster. Paul Goldberger acidly remarked, “Its shape is fussy, and the glass fa├žade is garishly reflective: Mies van der Rohe as filtered through Donald Trump.”

City Realty’s extensive review is more neutral and academic. Among other things, Carter Horsley reveals that the Gwathmey, Siegel & Associates design is actually the third proposal for that site. (Mr. Horsley previously wrote about real estate and architecture for The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, and New York Post.)

The developer, Related Companies, calls the design “Sculpture For Living.” And whether you like the building or not, the 39 multi-million-dollar condominium units are all sold.

* See Astor Place and Vicinity for a quick neighborhood tour.

Astor Place Vital Statistics
Astor Place Recommended Reading

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