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Enclave At The Cathedral, 400 West 113th street: Review and Ratings

between Amsterdam Avenue & Morningside Drive View Full Building Profile

Carter Horsley
Review of 400 West 113th street by Carter Horsley

This development of two mid-rise apartment towers just to the north of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine at 400 West 113th Street in Morningside Heights between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive is a project of The Brodsky Organization.

One of the buildings is 15 stories and the other is 13. The east building is the taller one but its floors are somewhat smaller than the west building.  The two buildings will contain a total of 428 rental apartments of which 87 will be affordable when the project opens in 2016.

Handel Architects designed the new apartment buildings.

The Brodsky Organization will pay the church $5 million a year under the terms of its 99-year ground lease.

Bottom Line

Snugly alongside the north side of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, this very large apartment development is startling and controversial not only because of such proximity to this huge but unfinished Gothic landmark but also because of its bold “exoskeleton” piers with slight angles near the top conjuring flying buttresses.


This 2016 development robs the cathedral of its free-standing on its large park-like property on Morningside Heights.

The two buildings have thick concrete piers that bulge outward slightly on the north façade of the the buildings’ bases and then bend backwards slight at the top three floors and even a bit above the roofline.  A more dramatic but similar “exoskeleton” design was employed by Gary Handel, the architect, for an apartment building at 170 Amsterdam Avenue that was completed shortly before this project.

Here the overall design is rather ungainly with the east façade, just to the north of the main entrance to the cathedral on Amsterdam Avenue, only partially glazed.  The west façade of the west building, however, is much more fully glazed.

A few years previously, of course, the cathedral had leased to Avalon Bay Communities the southeast corner of its property on a lower portion of the site for a 20-story apartment tower, but that tower was quite a bit removed from the very famous cathedral structure.

The towers were originally planned to be taller, but to address community concerns they were lowered.  They are also separated to not block the north entrance to the great nave of the cathedral, which is the fourth largest in the world.  The cathedral, which was erected for the Episcopal Diocese of New York, was begun in 1891.

According to, the plan for the new towers was first proposed in 2005 to be erected by Columbia University and then by Equity Residential Group, whose plans were upset by the financial crisis.  The article said that “despite some renewed local opposition that is expected, clearly this time the Diocese hopes the project will proceed,” adding that “Stephen Facey, a spokesman for the Diocese said simply to The Real Deal that the Cathedral could have built a much large development as of right, but slimmed it down considerably: “This is really about stabilizing the cathedral’s finances.”

The Brodsky Organization also entered building agreements with the General Theological Seminary, which is also Episcopalian, at its full-block campus in Chelsea.   

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