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Paul Whalen & Robert A.M. Stern Paul Whalen & Robert A.M. Stern
Paul Whalen is a partner at the world-renowned architecture firm Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA). Whalen is a master at infusing the best of 20th-century traditional co-op design with the conveniences and necessities of 21st-century modern lifestyles. CityRealty caught up with Whalen to talk about some of the firm's successful buildings, how architecture is like music, and why he swoons over traditional floor plans.

In this article:

The Bellemont, 1165 Madison Avenue
The Bellemont, 1165 Madison Avenue Carnegie Hill
The Cortland, 555 West 22nd Street
The Cortland, 555 West 22nd Street Chelsea
The Henry Residences, 215 West 84th Street
The Henry Residences, 215 West 84th Street Broadway Corridor
255 East 77th Street
255 East 77th Street Lenox Hill
Claremont Hall, 100 Claremont Avenue
Claremont Hall, 100 Claremont Avenue Morningside Heights

RAMSA's buildings always have a stately elegance that is firmly rooted in tradition. Why do you think that appeals to people?

I'm not sure that our aim is always to create stately elegance, but perhaps that is sometimes the result of working within the many varieties of classicism. Traditions are in essence the DNA of the best ideas that have withstood the test of time. And the reason these ideas survive is that they work well and appeal to a large number of people. With that kind of history behind architectural traditions, it's little wonder that they remain popular. We may be using iPhones and flying on jet planes these days, but what appeals to us as human beings hasn’t changed that much in the last couple of hundred years; it's only been a few generations after all. So the classic proportions of a square room or a room with a 1:2 ratio are naturally appealing in their simplicity and sense of order.

Architecture has been referred to as frozen music. The comparison is apt because, just as in a great piece of music, in architecture, there are themes that are repeated in different ways; there is often a narrative; and the proportional system is best when it incorporates all aspects of the building, in the way that most traditional music works within a tonal system.
20 East End Avenue, #Maisonette
Stately implies a formality that we may wish to use on some of our projects, but not on all of them. Elegance, on the other hand, is about timeless appeal and simplicity. Particularly in a residence, most people don’t want to be challenged. People may want to be challenged in a restaurant, a bar, or a store, but when they get home to their primary residence they're looking for an oasis from the cacophony of life outside.

How do RAMSA's upscale NYC condos compare to prestigious prewar buildings designed by Emery Roth and Candela?

Although many think of our firm as one that designs traditional New York apartment buildings, there are large differences between what we do and what someone such as Candela might have done in the 1920s. First, our windows are much bigger, so there is more light no matter what type of floor plans are developed inside. Then the designs we use for baseboards and ceiling trim may have roots in tradition but are much more abstract and less fussy than traditional historic detailing. We like to provide cased openings between entertaining rooms that can be fitted with swinging or pocket doors. This strategy makes for a clearer and bolder connection between rooms, while still maintaining the flexibility for privacy if desired.

We occasionally take a page from traditional French planning and use enfilades: the alignment of multiple doorways along an axis. Importantly, these enfilades were typically located near the windows of an outside wall, allowing for expansive diagonal views from one room through to the windows of the next room, doubling the amount of light and view. So where possible I like to locate connecting doors close to an outside wall. Finally, many of our new buildings have ceiling heights that are as tall or taller than prewar buildings, adding to the sense of openness.
20 East End Avenue, #MAISONETTE 20 East End Avenue, #MAISONETTE (Corcoran)

What are your general feelings about open versus traditional floor plans?

They are both viable from an architectural point of view if done well, but they each follow different rules, like French and English. I personally like more traditional plans because I like clearly defined rooms that allow for different worlds to coexist within the boundaries of one home. If more than one person lives in an apartment, defined rooms give more options for private time, and they offer the possibility of separating noisy activities from quiet ones. At the same time, I like to be able to throw open doors and connect rooms, giving me longer vistas and a way of seeing the different worlds at once.

Frankly, I'm also a bit of a romantic, so I’m drawn to the great room-making traditions of classic New York apartment buildings such as 740 Park Avenue.
20 East End Avenue, #MAISONETTE 20 East End Avenue, #MAISONETTE

Do you think the pendulum has shifted back to traditional layouts and away from the open plan?

It really depends on what part of the country you're building in and the size of the apartment. In small apartments, a more open plan makes sense so that various functions such as a living room, dining room, kitchen, and even an entry hall can share the same space. There is a lot of personal preference as to how different living spaces should interact in larger residences, but on the East Coast, we find there is a large market for more discrete rooms. In the West and Midwest, the preference is definitely for more open plans, often with the kitchen completely open to the living room.

The open arrangement can be beautiful if the kitchen is carefully designed to look like a great piece of furniture. I prefer a separate kitchen even in a smaller apartment, so I don’t have to clean everything every time a friend comes over. I like the idea that an apartment can have some spaces that are more "front-of-house" and others that are more "back-of-house", as they say in the hotel business.

However, when I design an apartment, I don’t design it for myself—I do the best job I can designing it for a particular market. Sometimes in a less developed market, an architect needs to get together with a developer and educate the local market to get them to understand that there are better ways to live than what they have been exposed to. That’s what separates a visionary developer from someone who just wants to reproduce the last successful building in their market.
The Cortland, 555 West 22nd Street, #PH25 Rendering of open plan living at The Cortland, #PH25 (CORE)

Robert A.M. Stern Architects' growing collection of NYC condo buildings

The Chatham, 181 East 65th Street

Upper East Side
Developer: The Related Companies | Finished in 2000

34 Floors | 94 Units

Photography credit: ESTO
Built 18 years ago, The Chatham, located in Lenox Hill, was Robert A.M. Stern's first residential condominium project and was inspired by the neighborhood's 1920s buildings. It features a brick and limestone facade punctuated by French balconies and bay windows. Architecture critic Carter Horsley describes it as, "The most elegant Post-Modern apartment tower along the redeveloped stretch of Third Avenue on the Upper East Side." The building offers a concierge, a full-time doorman, garage parking, bike room, and a residents-only Equinox spa and fitness center.

The Chatham, #23B (Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales LLC)

15 Central Park West

Upper West Side
Developer: Zeckendorf Development | Finished in 2008

43 Floors | 201 Units

The renowned 15 Central Park West is composed of two limestone towers built in a "faux-prewar style." Finished in 2008, the parkside complex steered by the legendary firm Zeckednorf Development remains one of the most prestigious residential buildings in the world today. According to Bloomberg, it's style is exactly what developers want Robert A.M. Stern to replicate with his newer buildings. And it makes sense - 15 CPW had set sales records for years and numerous celebs, including Robert De Niro, Alex Rodriguez, and Sting, who sold his penthouse there for $50M in 2018, have all called it home at some point.

It features 202 apartments ranging from one- to four-bedroom homes and amenities that include a restaurant with in-home private dining service, a 14,000-square-foot fitness center with a 75-foot sky-lit lap pool, wine rooms, a private screening room, a game room, a full staff, and more.

15 Central Park West, #14B (Corcoran Group)

The Brompton, 205 East 85th Street

Yorkville, Upper East Side
Developer: The Related Companies | Finished in 2009

23 Floors | 166 Units

Completed in 2009, The Brompton is an LEED-Certified Silver red-brick condominium that Carter Horsley says looks like an "impressive and very solid transplant from England" with its cast stone window bays, piers, and finials. The main entrance is townhouse-scaled and amenities include a full-time doorman, resident's lounge, patio, children's playroom, two landscaped courtyards, and a cardio fitness room as well as an Equinox within the building. Apartment layouts range from a 550-square-foot studio to a five-bedroom measuring just over 4,500 square feet.

The Brompton, #5J (Evergreen 88 Real Estate LLC)

The Harrison, 205 West 76th Street

Upper West Side
Developer: The Related Companies | Finished in 2009

19 Floors | 132 Units

The Harrison is a LEED Silver building with 132 condominiums ranging from studios to five bedrooms. This distinguished, mid-block building is a wonderful example of contextual architecture comprised of two mid-rise buildings that complement its neighbors rather than one disruptive very tall building. The two towers rise to 13 floors and 19 floors, and are connected by a large residential lobby. The design features pale orange façades, slanting ground-floor columns, angled ends, large windows, a grand entrance with arched windows, a fireplace and a large entrance marquee that is emblazoned on its edge with the building’s name.

The building has a concierge and a doorman, an entertainment lounge with a landscaped outdoor courtyard, a "dinosaur-themed children's playroom" (in honor, no doubt, of the large bones nearby at the American Museum of Natural History), a rooftop sun terrace, a garage, a health club, and an event room.

The Harrison, #1101 (The Agency Brokerage)

Superior Ink, 400 West 12th Street

West Village
Developer: The Related Companies | Built in 2010

17 Floors | 62 Units

Superior Ink in the West Village consists of a tower development and adjacent townhouse units. The LEED-certified development, which is just across the street from Hudson River Park, was finished in fall 2010. The building was fashioned by Robert A.M. Stern with a nod to early 20th-century industrial construction and features a facade with light orange brick and over-sized arched windows.

Celeb buyers include actress Hilary Swank and fashion designer Marc Jacobs. The many amenities at Superior Ink include a doorman, concierge, garage, gym, yoga room, screening room, resident’s lounge, and a children’s playroom.

Superior Ink, #16A (Corcoran Group)

One Museum Mile, 1280 Fifth Avenue

East Harlem
Developer: Parkview Fifth Ave. Associates, headed by Bruce Brickman and Sidney Fetner. | Finished in 2011

19 Floors | 116 Units

On the northernmost stretch of Central Park, One Museum Mile stands out for its white facade and bulky design. The low-rise portion of the building houses The Africa Center and West African restaurant Teranga, and the apartments are located on top to make the most of the views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline.

In addition to open exposures, all apartments at One Museum Mile have interiors by Andre Kikoski. Amenities include a 24-hour doorman and concierge service, a spectacular health club, a lounge, a kid's playroom, a teen game room, and an impressive roof deck with a heated swimming pool.

One Museum Mile, #8BC (Corcoran Group)

18 Gramercy Park South

Developer: Zeckendorf Development | Built in 1927, Converted in 2012

18 Floors | 16 Units

(Robert A.M. Stern Architects)
Built in 1927, the former hotel and Salvation Army Property at 18 Gramercy Park South was converted by the Zeckendorfs in 2012, with Robert A.M. Stern as the architect. All units in the building come with the most coveted of Gramercy amenities, a key to Gramercy Park. Amenities include a concierge, a fitness center, and key-locked elevator access.

The 16 condos in 18 Gramercy Park South are largely full-floor units, with the exception of a duplex penthouse, which Leslie Alexander, owner of the Houston Rockets, bought for $42 million in 2012. At the time, the apartment was the most expensive ever sold south of 57th Street.

18 Gramercy Park South, #M1 (Nest Seekers LLC)

The Four Seasons Private Residences, 30 Park Place

Developer: Silverstein Properties | Finished in 2016

82 Floors | 157 Units

Soaring 926 feet above the streets of lower Manhattan, 30 Park Place is the tallest finished building by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. Situated behind the beautiful Woolworth Building and near the World Trade Center, the 82-story development was developed by Silverstein Properties with the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) and finished in 2016.

The retro-chic building's first 24 floors house a Four Seasons Hotel whose 5-star services are extended to the residents of its 157 condos. The homes come in a mix of one- to six-bedrooms and offer stunning views of the city. Residents can enjoy nearly 40,000 square feet of amenities, that include a concierge and a doorman, a gym with a pool, a media room, and a children’s playroom. Residents also have exclusive access to the restaurant CUT NYC, Wolfgang Puck's first and only New York flagship.

The Four Seasons Private Residences, #59A (Compass)

20 East End Avenue

Yorkville, Upper East Side
Developer: Corigin Real Estate Group | Built in 2017

17 Floors | 41 Units

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The highly successful and attractive 20 East End Avenue recalls the style of NYC's residential buildings of the 1920s and 1930s with its Juliet balconies, setback terraces, bay windows, and Cunningham grey brick facade. It is comprised of 41 two- to six-bedroom residences that include two duplex homes, a maisonette, and two penthouses. It's generously-sized, pre-war-style apartments feature 11' to 14' ceiling heights, Appalachian oak flooring, custom casings, and base and crown moldings.

Three floors of amenities offer residents a library, billiard room, wine cellar, wine-tasting room, 3,000-square-foot gym, spa, and more. Closings at the luxury building began in late 2016.

20 East End Avenue, #MAISONETTE (Corcoran Group)

70 Vestry Street

Developer: The Related Companies | Finished in 2018

14 Floors | 46 Units

70 Vestry Street (Tim Fisher)
70 Vestry is a 14-floor condominium anchoring TriBeCa's Hudson River waterfront. The building is faced in a dapper skin of Beaumaniere limestone accented with industrial detailing.

Counting Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen among its purchasers, the building's first closings came in earlier this summer at an average price/ft2 of $3,471 and an average sales price of $9.6M. The homes are designed in collaboration with AD100 designer Daniel Romualdez and have just three residences per elevator landing. Many homes also have a dedicated service entry and private terraces.

Aside from its enviable waterfront location, other bells and whistles include a gated porte-cochere, automated parking garage, a library, a children’s playroom, a pet spa, and a wellness center.

70 Vestry Street, #4A (Compass)

520 Park Avenue

Upper East Side Gold Coast
Developer: Zeckendorf Development | Finished in 2018

54 Floors | 34 Units

Clad in Indiana limestone, 520 Park Avenue is a very elegant, 54-story, mid-block tower between Park and Madison avenues that is 779 feet 6 ½ inches feet high and contains 34 luxury condominium apartments. There are 29 floor-through simplexes, four duplexes, and one triplex. This is the Upper East Side’s answer to the Upper West Side's 15 Central Park West, though this is one block further away from Central Park but taller and with significantly fewer apartments: another stunning winner from architect Robert A. M. Stern and Zeckendorf.

The building has a doorman, a concierge, a 25-foot-high lobby with coffered ceilings and two limestone fireplaces, a two-story, 8,000-square-foot health club with a swimming pool with coffered ceilings and trellised walls, bicycle storage, wine storage, resident storage, a library. Current listings have an average price of $5,641 per square foot.

520 Park Avenue, #18 (Modlin Group LLC)

220 Central Park South

Billionaire's Row, Midtown West
Developer: Vornado Realty Trust | Finished in 2018

70 Floors | 118 Units

Limestone-clad 220 Central Park South combines cutting-edge living with rarified pre-war opulence. Architect Robert A. M. Stern brought his unmatched expertise in crafting an apartment building that ranks not only among the city’s tallest, but also the city’s finest, priciest, and most prestigious. Both the 952-foot tall, 70-story tower and the 18-story “Villa” at Central Park South overlook Central Park.

Traditional design distinguishes the building’s many amenity spaces, which include a double-height lobby, gated indoor motor reception with private parking, state-of-the-art gym, basketball court, squash court, rock climbing wall, indoor pool, athletic club and spa, game room, screening room, and private restaurant, bar, and roof garden. Private storage is available.

220 Central Park South, #39A (Corcoran Group)

Two Fifty West 81st, 250 West 81st Street

Upper West Side
Alchemy Properties | Finished in 2019

18 Floors | 31 Units

Located at the corner of Broadway and 81st Street in the Upper West Side, 250 West 81st Street boasts "timeless architecture" through its pre-war inspired details that include a limestone and marble grey brick facade punctuated by setbacks and decorative window openings. Residences range from two- to five-bedroom layouts and offer tall ceiling heights, oversized windows, oak herringbone flooring, and kitchens by Robert A.M. Stern Architects and Smallbone of Devizes. Carefully-considered window placements ensure perfect views of the Manhattan skyline.

The extensive amenity package focuses on wellness and socializing with a multi-purpose sports court with a basketball hoop, an imagination forest in the children’s playroom, a fitness center featuring Technogym and Peloton cardio, a golf simulator room, a rooftop sky terrace with an outdoor grill and views of Midtown and the Hudson River, the music recording and practice studio including a recording booth, and a library lounge.

Two Fifty West 81st, #8B (Compass)

200 East 83rd Street

Lenox Hill, Upper East Side
Naftali Group | Finished in 2022

35 Floors | 86 Units

With its soaring height, striking silhouette, and grand arched windows, 200 East 83rd Street has utterly transformed its local skyline and the Yorkville residential market as a whole. Upon arrival through a gracious entrance, residents are greeted by a sophisticated lobby with a doorman and concierge. Amenity offerings include a fitness center and yoga studio, a 70-foot indoor pool with double-height vaulted ceilings and loggia access, spa with steam room and sauna, wood and leather-paneled library, a children’s playroom, a screening room, Winter Garden with a double-height loggia and terrace access, and a vaulted porte-cochere with automated parking and a private courtyard.

200 East 83rd Street, #26A (Modlin Group LLC)

Tribeca Green

Battery Park City
Developer: Related Companies
Finished in 2004 and converted to condop in 2023

24 Floors | 272 Units

In Lower Manhattan, the LEED Gold-certified Tribeca Green was one of Robert A.M. Stern Architects’ earliest projects. They drew inspiration from the 1930s Art Moderne-style ocean liners that used to frequent the water.

Amidst Tribeca Green’s recent conversion from rental to sales units, the apartments were spruced up with high-end finishes and appliances, and indoor/outdoor amenities spread across two floors were introduced. What has not changed, though, are the facade’s design or environmentally friendly features like healthcare-grade filtered air, solar panels, and ultra-efficient mechanical systems.

Tribeca Green, #3P (Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group)

Amid the cutting edge new architecture that has cropped up along Eleventh Avenue and the West Side Highway, The Cortland's red brick facade and rusticated limestone base pays tribute to the area's blue-collar roots. The studio through five-bedroom homes feature "a refined West Coast aesthetic," high-quality natural materials, open-plan living and dining areas, and high ceilings.

The top three floors house penthouse residences and many apartments have private terraces overlooking the Hudson River. Amenities include a private motor court, fitness center, sports court, yoga room, spa with hot tub and cold plunge, music room, screening room, children's playroom, pet spa, event lounge, and common roof terrace.

The Cortland, #PH25 (CORE Group Marketing LLC)

In the heart of Union Theological Seminary’s Morningside Heights campus, Claremont Hall’s design by Robert A.M. Stern Architects features classical influences. The apartments start on top of the classrooms, academic offices, and faculty housing in the tower, and all interiors feature high ceilings, oversized windows, sweeping views, and state-of-the-art kitchens.

Claremont Hall’s amenities include a gracious lobby, a walnut-paneled library, a grand dining room, a children's playroom, a creative maker's room, a fitness center, and a residents' lounge with a terrace. The former refectory has been transformed into an indoor pool with Gothic ceilings and original chandeliers and ceiling beams.

Claremont Hall, #14F (Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group)

The Bellemont at 1165 Madison Avenue, designed by Robert A.M. Stern with acclaimed designer Achille Salvagni, embodies timeless luxury and elegance. Its exterior features a hand-laid Indiana limestone façade and intricate metalwork. With just 12 residences, the building offers lavish amenities, including a 24-hour doorman and concierge, a holistic fitness center, a state-of-the-art screening room, a children's playroom, a squash court with a basketball hoop, and a rooftop terrace with spectacular Central Park views.

Located one block from Museum Mile and Central Park, The Bellemont is surrounded by New York City's finest cultural institutions, restaurants, entertainment, and shopping.

While 16 Fifth Avenue is no longer poised to outstrip the nearby 1 Fifth Avenue as Greenwich Village’s tallest building – Landmarks put the kibosh on that and called for a shorter building to rise on the site – the approved building, with its prewar design influences and limestone facade, is not to be ignored. However, it may take some time before we can see it: Work on the site has undermined the structure of the nearby 10 Fifth Avenue to a point where it is still not safe for residents to stay there.

Nearly two centuries after Edgar Allan Poe wrote “The Raven” in an Upper West Side farmhouse, the first renderings have been released for a new 18-story building taking shape on the site. Developer Naftali Group reteamed with Robert A.M. Stern Architects, fresh off their success at The Bellemont and 200 East 83rd Street, and the first renderings depict a light-colored building with floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, arched windows on select levels, and massing that provides for many private terraces.

Details are not yet available about the apartments’ interiors. Early amenity renderings indicate that the building will have indoor pickleball and basketball courts, a bowling alley, a screening room, a lounge with fireplace and access to an outdoor courtyard, and a roof terrace with a fire pit, outdoor kitchen and dining, and open city views.

Construction is still in extremely early stages at 255 East 77th Street, a new condominium tower planned just off Second Avenue. However, renderings submitted to the Department of Buildings suggest a design rooted in classical traditions with a limestone facade and arched windows on select floors. Residents of the 55 condos are set to enjoy amenities like a swimming pool, fitness center, yoga studio, sauna, roof deck, lounge, and enclosed parking garage.

Would you like to tour any of these properties?
Just complete the info below.
  1. Select which properties are of interest to you:

Or call us at (212) 755-5544
Would you like to tour any of these properties?