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295 Greenwich Street

Between Warren Street & Chambers Street

Carter Horsley
Reviewed 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.
 

Two virtually identical buildings that both occupy a full blockfront on Greenwich Street, these are noted for their rounded corners topped with domed piping.

Designed by Gruzen Samton Steinglass, one of the city's premier residential architectural firms, these buildings were developed by The Charles H. Shaw Company, which is based in Chicago, but active in New York.

The naked structure of the domes is rather startling. One almost expects a truck to arrive with the canvas or tarpaulin to cover them at any moment. The silo-like shape of the corners is also rather odd in such a rectilinear city, but one assumes that the architects modeled their dome tops on the similarly low dome of one of Cesar Pelli's huge office towers at the World Financial Center just a few blocks to the south and across the infamous and broad West Side Highway.

These 11-story structures have more than 130 condominium apartments in each building and are quite conservative in appearance so the exposed dome structures are not really precursors of the Deconstructionist movement that swept through architectural circles shortly after their construction in late 1986.

The buildings use an attractive large red brick and the large, recessed windows are handsomely set in green-framed sliding sash.

Although Elliot Willensky and Norval White were not overly amused by this pair in their book, "The A. I. A. Guide to New York City, Third Edition," (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988)—"curved greenhouse cornices suggest a receding hairline; pipe grids at the roof corners read as trivial pursuits"—the buildings actually are quite decent and recall some of the great Chicago architecture at the turn of the 20th Century, sans the domes, of course.

The domes may be trivial pursuits, but in a city desperate for follies they are most welcome. Indeed, these buildings were paid the highest form of flattery: the neighboring building on the north side of Chambers Street, Dalton on Greenwich at 303 Greenwich Street, rounded its corner also, albeit sans dome. The result is a nice three-block stretch of modest but robust new residential buildings that added significantly to the area's attractiveness.

Authors Willensky and White did praise, correctly, the buildings' rounded corners "that ease the turning of odd-angled streets."

It should be noted that apart from many public housing projects the erection of twin buildings on adjacent blockfronts is a great rarity in the city and praiseworthy.

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