The Epic

The Epic is controversial for its height and glass curtain wall construction amid a neighborhood of predominantly 1900s low-rise masonry. But its innovative design is the answer to many prayers: The 59-floor tower contains a friary, a lodge for cancer patients, a garage, and 459 apartments – including 92 reserved for low-income tenants. The friars and the American Cancer Society own their portions of the building, and the friars also have part-ownership of the apartments, which provides the church with regular income. To top it all, the building is certified “green.”

The Epic dwarfs its next-door-neighbor, the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. But that’s OK with the church – in fact, the tower was their idea.

The existing friary needed expensive repairs; the church opted to replace rather than repair the building. The friars bought adjoining land and invited developers to come up with plans. The winning proposal seemed to have something for everyone. has an excellent feature describing the project’s challenges and solutions.

In its website, architects FXFOWLE explains: “As the design architects, FXFOWLE have elegantly resolved varying programs and identities for The Epic, a residential tower. The project uses the air rights of the St. Francis of Assisi Friary to create a mixed-use tower, with an extension of offices, a chapel, a library, and housing for the Friars at the base. The building also includes a new headquarters for the American Cancer Society and the Hope Lodge treatment center and hospice. The four story façade on 32nd Street incorporates an expansive glass and shadow box curtain wall to give the Society its own strong identity. Above the base, the tower consists of 460 units of luxury housing. The varying façade layers respond to the program elements on the interior, rationalizing the irregular footprint with a gradation from a solid inner armature to a perforated colonnade and a transparent, flared outer layer. A terrace, with an open brick colonnade that frames the iconic Manhattan views, creates a unique amenity for the building’s residents.”

The Epic Vital Statistics
  • Location: 125 W 31st Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues
  • Year completed: 2007
  • Architects: Schuman, Lichtenstein, Clamon & Efron; FXFOWLE Architects
  • Floors: 59
  • Style: Postmodern
The Epic Suggested Reading

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