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Carter's View

Construction is nearing completion at La Casa Brava, a 6-story residential condominium building at 232 East 118th Street that is distinguished by its intensely colorful and unusual facade, one of the most dramatic in the city.

Designed by Peter L. Gluck, the facade is framed in a lapis lazuli blue glazed brick that wraps around the front of the building and "peters out" on its side facades, a nice deconstructivist touch.

The facade design is also unusual as it irregularly frames the inset windows that are all multipaned differently.

Mr. Gluck told today that the irregular framing on the front facade is meant to be "read" as a "tear" or "rent" at one scale while the different windows reflect the different apartments at another scale.

Mr. Gluck received a honor award from the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 2004 for his even more colorful five-story building for the Little Sisters of Assumption Family Services on 115th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues.

Stephen Kessner, the owner of the R.E. Group, is the developer. He began to develop residential properties in the East Village and the East Nineties and in 1983 he acquired his first properties in East Harlem where he now claims to be the largest "for profit" property owner with about 5,000 tenants in 60 buildings. His management company is R.E. Management Inc., and his construction company is R. E. Builders, Inc. His son, Michael, is director of operations for the R.E. Group.

Duplex apartments are on the first floor and basement and the penthouse apartments have spiral staircases up to bulkheads and patios on the roof. Kitchens have G.E. Profile stainless steel appliances and G.E. washers and dryers. Bathrooms have radiant floor heating.

Apartments range in size from 800 to 1,450 square feet and have individually controlled heating and air-conditioning and video intercom security. Prices initially ranged from about $465,000 to $695,000.

The building has an elevator and a common roof deck and because it is built almost full on the lot the upper rear apartments have sunset views.

The renovated building, which is between Second and Third Avenues, is two blocks from crosstown buses on 116th Street and four blocks from a subway.
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Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.