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15 Union Square West

Between East 15th Street & East 16th Street

Carter Horsley
Reviewed 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.
 

15 Union Square West is a very handsome, modern, mid-rise, residential building on the southwest corner at 15th Street that replaced a bland bank building that had previously covered up a fine and very handsome, cast-iron building designed by John Kellum in 1870 for Tiffany, the jewelry concern that was founded in Lower Manhattan in 1837.

The transformation, which was completed in 2008, stripped away the bank’s façade to reveal many of the original cast-iron façade elements that are now behind the new dark-glass façades.

The conversion, which created 36 condominium apartments, was done by Brack Capital Real Estate USA.

Eran Chen of Perkins & Will was the architect.  He subsequently left that firm to become a partner at ODA (Office for Design & Architecture).

Vincent Wolfe was the interior designer.

Bottom Line

The transformation of this building from a fine, small, cast-iron headquarters for Tiffany & Company to a bland bank building to an enlarged, modern, dark-glass luxury residential condominium structure significantly enlivened its Union Square environment.

Description

The original building was only five stories tall.  The 2010 conversion added seven floors and all floors were clad in dark glass with asymmetrical frame elements.  On Union Square West, the added floors are setback but some jut back out a bit creating interesting overhangs and shadows.  On 15th Street, the center of the building rises up two stories above the original height and then has two setbacks.  The frame elements on the sidestreet are also asymmetrical.

The lobby has replicas of bank vault door in solid wood flanking the large dark brown tufted leather concierge station. The lobby also has a patterned marble floor.

Amenities

The building has a fitness center with a two-lane, 50-foot lap pool of Aqua blue Bisazza stone, full-time doorman, Abigail Michaels Concierge Service, valet parking, central air-conditioning, and a live-in resident manager.

 

Apartments

The apartments have high ceilings, large windows and wide plank oak floor in mahogany finish.

Apartments on upper floors have gas-burning fireplaces.

To ensure the residents’ privacy, there are window shades that rise from the floor and are quite opaque and those that come down from top are thinner.

Kitchens have large island with stainless-steel bases and mahogany legs, lime-rubbed oak cabinetry, Viking ranges, Sub-Zero refrigerators and Miele dishwashers.

Bathrooms have cast-iron, free-standing tubs with stainless-steel claw feet, double-sink vanities with stainless-steel cabinetry and Pietra Bedonia sandstone countertops, Verde Andeer granite and Thassos DaVinci floors and walls.

Apartment 2A is a one-bedroom unit that has a foyer that leads past an open kitchen to a 20-foot-long living/dining room.

Apartment 7C is a two-bedroom unit with a very large living/dining room with an pass-through kitchen and a fireplace and two very long terraces.

Apartment 3D is a two-bedroom duplex unit that has a 29-foot-long, double-height, living/dining room with an open kitchen with an island on the lower level.

Penthouse 12 is a three-bedroom duplex unit with a very wide entrance gallery that leads past an open kitchen with an island to a very large living/dining room with a fireplace and a large terrace on the lower level and a master suite on the upper level with a very large terrace with a fireplace and an “endless pool.”

 

History

Tiffany moved out of the building in 1905 for 401 Fifth Avenue at 37th Street and later to its present location on the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street.  Its original Union Square West building sported a statue of a youth supported a large clock on its second story that now adorns its pink granite building at 57th Street.

The Union Square West building was primarily used as a warehouse after Tiffany relocated until 1925 when it was taken over by Amalgamated Bank.

In 1952, a falling piece of cast iron killed a pedestrian and the face was stripped and reclad in brick.

In 2008, the brick recladding was removed to reveal the building’s original steel structure.

In his July 2, 2006 “Streetscapes” column in The New York Times, Christopher Gray wrote that “the politest thing to say about the blocky white blob of a building at the south corner of 15th Street and Union Square West is that it is homely.”

In an August 7, 2008 article in The New York Daily News, Jason Sheftell wrote that the building was “the finest, most complex and maybe even magical new condominium project currently for sale in New York City.”

A January 28, 2012 article by Katherine Clark at therealdeal.com that that Penthouse 11 and Apartment 10B were being sold to be combined into a single residential unit for a total price of between $16 million and $17 million, which would “shatter records for the sale of a single-family home on the square.”  The combined apartment has six bedrooms and 5,311 square feet of space.

 

 

 

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