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Liberty Terrace, 380 Rector Place

79
Carter Horsley
Review by Carter Horsley
Carter Horsley Carter B. Horsley, a former journalist for The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Post. Mr. Horsley is also the editorial director of CityRealty.com.
 

One of the larger and more desirable Battery Park City apartment towers, this 26-story building was erected in 1986.

The building has 247 condominium apartments most of which face on the Esplanade and the Hudson River. It was designed by Ulrich Franzen and The Vilkas Group and is similar in massing to Liberty House directly across Rector Place that was designed by James Stewart Polshek & Partners.

While not quite as handsome as Liberty House, which has more views of the Statue of Liberty, the two buildings, whose main façades are angled, complement one another very nicely and are among the best at Battery Park City.

Like Liberty House, this red-brick tower steps down in setbacks on either side on the central, angled shaft, but unlike Liberty House this building has balconies. The balconies are recessed in the center of the main shaft and also along the side wings and create a textural composition that while not dramatic is pleasant and very contextual with its neighbors. The massing is well detailed and maximizes views for this fabulous location.

The city originally considered very grandiose "megastructure" plans for the development of this enormous landfill project created with earth excavated from the World Trade Center Site. These plans, which were abandoned as too monumental and expensive, called for hexagonal towers all connected at their base in a very bold design.

The first phase of housing at Battery Park City, Gateway Plaza, a large three-building complex on the south side of the North Cove, was not very exciting, but the second phase, of which this is a part, was far more successful in large part due to design guidelines written by Cooper Eckstut Associates whose esplanade is one of the greatest in the world. The second residential phase sought to combine the park ambiance of a Gramercy Park with a diversity of building types.

This building also fronts on Rector Park which was designed by Innocenti-Webel with Vollmer Associates and has sculpture by R. M. Fischer. "As befits the surrounding architecture, centrally placed Rector Park is veddy, veddy propuh, using the finest of materials very carefully detailed. Meant to be looked at, not played in," observed Elliot Willensky and Norval White in their excellent book, "The A.I.A. Guide to New York City, Third Edition," (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988).

While the Cooper Eckstut plan has been slightly criticized by some for its Post-Modern style as opposed to more modernistic and stylistically radical approaches it has received virtually unanimous high praise. Despite such acclaim, much of Battery Park remains a great secret from, and surprise for, many New Yorkers.

With the completion of the enormous World Financial Center, designed by Cesar Pelli for Olympia & York, in the center of Battery Park City the project is undoubtedly one of the world's most spectacular urban environments. Although it has taken many years, the project is finally getting more stores and entertainment facilities and when completed may well be the city's most impressive community.

Battery Park City is huge and the distance between Stuyvesant High School at the north end and the South Cove Park at the south end, near the new Holocaust Museum, is considerable and as the project fills up with new housing some residents may lose some views but not those in buildings, such as this, along the landscaped Esplanade.

Although it was planned mostly to serve people who worked in Lower Manhattan, Battery Park City is extremely appealing to anyone who loves the waterfront, great architecture and the history of Manhattan. In pleasant weather, outdoor concerts outside the spectacular Wintergarden at the World Financial Center and in front of the extensive outdoor cafes around the North Cove marina, which caters to large yachts, is without peer. Even Rockefeller Center seems puny in comparison.

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