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56 Leonard Street

Between Broadway & Church 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.
 

The stunning, 60-story residential condominium tower planned for 56 Leonard Street in TriBeCa has been designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the architects of the "Bird's Nest" stadium in Beijing and 40 Bond Street in NoHo.

It is a project that was co-developed by Hines and Alexico, which is headed by Ivan Senbahar and Simon Elias, who in 2009 were completing their conversion of part of the Mark Hotel on the northwest corner of Madison Avenue and 77th Street to residential condominiums. Alexico was also the developer of 165 Charles Street, a Richard Meier-designed apartment building on West Street.

56 Leonard Street is about five blocks south of Canal Street and four blocks north of City Hall in the midst of TriBeCa and is not far from another major project that was put on hold at about the same time by Larry Silverstein, a mixed-use tower at 30 Park Place just to the west of the Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway. The Silverstein tower, which is planned to contain a hotel and residential condominium apartments, has been designed in the Post-Modern style by Robert A. M. Stern.

Hines's other projects in the city include the undulating residential condominium at One Jackson Square in Greenwich Village designed by Kohn Pederson Fox; the "Lipstick" office building on Third Avenue in Midtown designed by Philip Johnson; and the Torre Verre just to the west of the Museum of Modern Art on West 54th Street designed by Jean Nouvel. The latter project is expected to be about 1,080 feet high.

Alexico acquired the 56 Leonard Street site from the New York Law School and the new tower will be on the 12,500-square-foot site of the Mendik Law Library building on the northeast corner of the block bounded by Church, Worth and Leonard Streets and West Broadway. The school's property was not included in a 1995 rezoning of the area.

Herzog & de Meuron's design for 40 Bond Street for Ian Schrager included huge green glass cylindrical elements and a graffiti-inspired gate.

Every floor in the new Herzog & de Meuron tower is different and rotated from the floors above and below. The press release for the project described it as "a thoughtful, daring and ultimately dazzling new alternative - the iconic American skyscraper re-envisioned as a pixilated vertical layering of individually sculpted, highly customized, graceful private residences opening to the atmosphere." In other words, every apartment in the shimmy-shimmy-shake form for the tower will have a balcony.

The press release also noted that the project "updates the relationship between private tower and public streetscape with an articulated base whose cantilevers generate a sense of movement and permeability," adding that "Here, the building's defining corner will be the site of a major commissioned sculpture by internationally celebrated London-based artist Anish Kapoor."

"Fully integrated into the architecture itself as if to say that culture and the city are indivisible," the press release continued, "Kapoor's massive, reflective stainless steel piece - an enigmatic balloon-like form that appears to be combating compression from above - will be a new cultural landmark in TriBeCa...."

The artist's dazzling and very impressive "Cloud Gate" sculpture in A. T. & T. Plaza in Millennium Park in Chicago is very similar but much, much larger and free-standing. Some have suggested that Kapoor's mercurial sculpture might be seen to better advantage atop the tower.

The tower's plans call for a double-height lobby sheathed in "gleaming" black granite with a concierge and doorman and seven elevators. Above the lobby will be several floors of "townhouse" residences and then two floors of amenities including a 75-foot "infinity edge" pool, a sundeck, a fitness center, a spa, a library lounge, a screening room, a conference room and a TriBeCa Tot Room.

Floors eight through forty-five contain the building's two- to five-bedroom apartments, each of which will have 12-foot-high glass doors leading to private outdoor spaces with travertine pavers. Fireplace "hearths" soar from floor to ceiling, crafted by the architects in high-gloss white-enameled steel, and kitchens will have a high-gloss black lacquer island with black granite countertop "accompanied by a custom hood either sculpted from the wall or descending from the ceiling."

The building will have 8 full-floor penthouses and two that occupy half floors, all with 14-foot-high ceilings.

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