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A blog from CityRealty (Links below will take you to the 6sqft site)

Irving Place, 57 Irving Place

Between East 17th Street & East 18th Street

85
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.
 

The most modern building in the Gramercy Park/Irving Place neighborhood and one of the most interesting new buildings in the city, 57 Irving Place is an 11-story residential condominium with 9 apartments. 

It was developed by Robert Gladstone and designed by Audrey Matlock. They were also the team behind Chelsea Modern at 447 West 18th Street, the very handsome, blue-glass residential condominium with an angled, basket-weave-like façade. Mr. Gladstone also developed the Galleria at 117 East 57th Street and the Waterford at 300 East 93rd Street and the office towers at 135 East 57th Street and 875 Third Avenue. 

David Helpern, who designed the office building at 667 Madison Avenue, the SoHo Grand Hotel, and the New York University Stern School of Business, was the executive architect for 57 Irving Place, which is a mid-block building between 17th and 18th streets that was completed in 2012.

Bottom Line

While the apartments may not have sensational views, the layouts are drop-dead, the immediate neighborhood abounds with wonderful restaurants such as Pure Food and Wine and Pete’s Tavern, and the developer arranged with the Players Club to pay annual dues for his residents for five years to have keys to Gramercy Park a few blocks to the north, a tremendous amenity.

Description

An asymmetrical building of considerable and intriguing complexity, 57 Irving Place looks like a white Le Corbusier structure on steroids with its protruding rails. If it were black, it would be scary. As it is, it is very contrapuntal with its alternating façade elements and different ceiling heights.

There are some interesting comments at webster-merriam.com under its definition of the word “contrapuntal”: 

Anna Maibaum of New York provided the following quotation from William Carlos Williams: "...we know nothing and can know nothing/ but/ the dance, to dance to a measure contrapuntally/satirically the tragic foot." 

Wilson Wood of Neenah High notes that scene seven of “A Streetcar Named Desire” Blanche “is singing in the bathroom a saccharine popular ballad which is used contrapuntally with Stanley’s speech." 

Heather Albrecht of Hamline University noted that in “The City of Tomorrow and Its Planning,” Le Corbusier “wrote about the contemporary city and its aesthetic and said that ‘no two streets are exactly like,’ adding that ‘This is where, in a magnificent contrapuntal symphony, the forces of geometry come into play.’’ 

And Jenny Lawson of Valley Christian School added the following quotation from Vladimir Nabokov’s “Pale Fire”: "This elaborate rhyme comes as an apotheosis crowning the entire canto and synthesizing the contrapuntal aspects of its 'accidents and possibilities.'" 

The alternating façade elements were originally intended to slide along the rails at the whimsy of the residents obsessed perhaps with variable transparency. 

Such thoughts are not irrelevant in an age in the city where Lindy Roy put cloud-like screens on the façade of High Line 519, Shigeru Ban has large, openable, garage-door-like screens on the façade of a building he designed at 524 West 19th Street in Chelsea, where Jean Nouvel designed vertically movable large windows for some of the apartments at 40 Mercer Street in SoHo, where the Standard Hotel on the High Line in Chelsea attracks voyeurs and where the Whitney Museum of American Art was too timid to build Norman Foster’s great plan for a skyscraper addition on Madison Avenue with interchangeable metal façade panels with different geometric cutouts for windows. 

The open/shut tension of 57 Irving Place façade is a frozen architectural moment that captivates the imagination. 

In July, 2008, renderings of the project were released describing the building as having 15-foot-wide screens that are “automatically controlled and can be moved along an external steel track to provide shading and separation.” The architect’s website at the time described the building’s front as “a living façade” that is “literally a kinetic sculpture reflecting the changing needs of its occupants.” 

When asked in September 2012 whether the alternating façade elements do ride the rails, Audrey Matlock, the architect, replied in e-mail to CityRealty.com “that the panels do not move now,” adding that “That feature was rejected by the client during the design process so they became stationary.” 

Clearly, the client, Robert Gladstone, however, was sufficiently taken with the façade elements not to chuck them and their rails, which invite passionate and romantic Irving Place songs about criss-crossed tight-rope walkers and new fangled fire-escapes. 

The building does have floor-to-ceiling automated “push-out” windows, similar to those employed at Chelsea Modern. The windows can be opened parallel to the façade.

Amenities

The building has a 24-hour doorman and residents are able to apply for membership at the Players Club, where the developer is a member, and if accepted that would entitled them to admission to the very exclusive, key-locked and lovely Gramercy Park. 

The building also has a package room with cold storage, private storage rooms with cedar closets, bicycle storage and a landscaped garden with a curved waterfall.

Apartments

Apartments have direct elevator entry.

The three-floor townhome has its own street entry as well as entry from the lobby, a garage, a 30-foot-long, saltwater swimming pool, four bedrooms, five bathrooms, a 23-foot-long media room, a 17-foot-long fitness space, a wine storage room, and a 113-foot-long laundry.  It also has an “art wall” that can be viewed from both its garden and its 28-foot-long great room that has a 20-foot-high atrium with a glass balustrade on all its sides on the upper level.  The apartment’s has a 734-square-foot private garden. 

The duplex apartment on the 9th and 10th floors has four bedrooms with a kitchen with honed bluestone floors, white satin lacquered cabinetry with granite countertops, a marble island with seating fro six and appliances by Gaggenau, Thermador, Miele and Viking.  Its master bath has a balcony, a free-standing Victoria & Albert Napoli elliptical tub, a spa shower for Two with Kohler Watertile overhead rain showers, an 8-foot-long steam room with benches, a bamboo wall with integrated cabinets, a Duravit by Starck toilet, a marble countertop with Duravit Vero wash basins, radiant heated floors and white back-painted glass tile walls. 

The six full-floor residences have 32-foot-long great rooms with 16-foot-long alcoves and open kitchens with six-seat islands and three bedrooms. 

The penthouse is on the 11th floor. 

History

The building’s site was formerly occupied by a four-story garage.

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