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Carter's View

Jose Roberto Antonio and Roy Stillman, president and co-president, of MCP 56 LLC, have commissioned I. M. Pei, who designed the Four Seasons Hotel on East 57th Street, and SCLE to design a 17-story residential condominium building at 33 West 56th Street.

The 172-foot-high, mid-block building, which will be clad in Burgundy limestone, has several setbacks and terraces and from the east and west its setbacks cascade at angles rather than the typical "wedding-cake" tiering.

The development replaces a 6-story building at 37 West 56th and three 5-story buildings at 31, 33 and 35 West 56th Street and it also uses air rights from 39 West 56th Street. The development is to the west of the handsome and trendy Chambers Hotel on the same block.

The project, which is known as the Centurion, will have 48 apartments ranging in size from one- to four-bedrooms and from 750 to 3,400 square feet. Prices are anticipated to range from about $1,900,000 to $10,000,000. Occupancy is expected late next year.

Several apartments will have living rooms with 17-foot-ceilings and these extend above the "tapered" setbacks with the result that the building will have 31 different apartment layouts.

The building will have a private courtyard with a waterfall and a 65-car garage. There will be two apartments on the second floor, and floors 3 through 6 will have 5 apartments, the seventh floor will have 4 apartments and the lower half of a duplex apartment, the eighth floor will have the upper half of a duplex and three apartments, the ninth floor will have 3 apartments, the tenth floor will have 4 apartments each, floors 11 through 14 will have 2 apartments each, and floors 15 and 16 will have one apartment each.

Donald L. Taffner and his wife, Eleanor B. Taffner, founded in 1955 the American Friends of the Glasgow School of Art, which was founded by Rennie Charles Mackintosh, and its headquarters were located at 31 West 56th Street, the handsomest of the four buildings in the assemblage. The five-story, beige-brick building, had a rusticated one-story limestone base. 33 and 35 West 56th Street had red-brick facades and 33 West 56th Street once was the location of Club Napoleon, a famous speakeasy operated by Larry Fay that was frequented by Mae West and George Raft and had been previously been the home of Charles Donohue whose brother wed an heir to the Woolworth fortune. Club Napoleon was later called Casa Blanca, according to LindaAnn Loshiavo, the author of "Courting Mae West," a play.

The 56th Street block between Fifth and Madison Avenue has numerous restaurants and its eastern end of the block is anchored by a new Abercrombie & Fitch store that is very unusual in that its large store windows on Fifth Avenue are shuttered on the inside.

The new building will be close to the office building at 40 West 57th Street, which has a through-block arcade and was recently given a new facade. To the west of that building is a long-vacant assemblage that goes through to 57th Street.
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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.
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