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165 Charles Street: Review and Ratings

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Carter Horsley
Review of 165 Charles Street by Carter Horsley

This 2005 building at 165 Charles Street in the West Village is proof that imitation is “the sincerest form of flattery.”

It is very, very much like the two 15-story towers just to the north at 173 Perry Street and 176 Perry Street that were completed in 2002. 

All three buildings front on West Street and face the Hudson River and all three were designed by Richard Meier. They comprise an extremely attractive and elegant architecture group, but 165 Charles Street was not developed by the builders of the other two and, unlike them, it was delivered finished - down to the doorknobs custom-designed by Mr. Meier, himself.

Richard Born, Ira Drukier and Charles Blaichman were the developers of 173 and 176 Perry Street, but Izak Senbahar and Simon Elias, who built the Grand Beekman at East 51st Street and the Alex Hotel at East 45th Street, are the developers of 165 Charles Street.

Bottom Line

As the southernmost building of this very highly praised trio of modern condominium apartment buildings fronting on the Hudson River in the West Village, 165 Charles Street has the best views of Lower Manhattan. This group of buildings was responsible for kindling a new era of architecturally interesting residential projects in the city and this building is the only one where Richard Meier designed the interiors as well as the exteriors.


The third Meier tower at 165 Charles Street is a remarkable chapter in the city’s real estate one-up-man-ship history. 

The first two buildings of this group on Perry Street towers are not identical twins.

The north tower, which is the narrowest, has one apartment per floor while the south tower has two apartments. The west façade of the south tower is slightly broader than that of the north tower, and the south tower’s floors are about twice as large as those in the north tower.

Both buildings are set in minimalist dark gray granite plazas and have handsome entrance canopies. 

The third building in the group, the 16-story Charles Street tower by Meier, is even broader than the south Perry Street building and thereby creates an even more interesting ensemble of very closely related buildings.

The façades of these Meier buildings combine floor-to-ceiling windows encased in white steel with slim green spandrels and the southwest corners of the Perry Street towers have small green-glass balconies. The white-steel elements of the Perry Street towers protrude a bit, providing the buildings a handsome texture. 165 Charles Street does not have the inset balconies that are in the first two buildings.

The western façades have a white-steel "frame" that extends beyond the building at the southwest corner and is in front of the balconies that extend even further.


165 Charles Street offers great vistas of the Hudson River and Lower Manhattan and bragging rights to being in the best of the three modern residential towers designed by Richard Meier in the West Village.

While the Perry Street buildings were offered as “raw” space, 165 Charles Street was completely designed by Mr. Meier from kitchen space to bathroom fixtures.

The building has 24-hour concierge service, a professional screening room with 36 Meier-designed leather seats, private storage, a 50-foot-long, infinity-edge swimming pool with a cascading waterfall and clerestory window, a fitness center and a wine cellar for each apartment that can accommodate 360 bottles.

This building is closest to the entrance to the Hudson River Park, which opened about the same time and is extremely attractive with broad lawns and plentiful seating for watching sunsets and gazing at both the Lower Manhattan and Jersey City skylines to the south.


Apartments have 11-foot-high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows and luxury finishes.

With the exception of the lower three floors and the penthouse, 165 Charles Street is divided by a central spine into a pair of 2-bedroom apartments. 

A 2-bedroom apartment has a 28-foot-long great room with two large walls of windows overlooking the Hudson River, while a studio facing east has a “living area” that is almost 19 square feet and a kitchen longer than 10 feet.

A 2-bedroom with a 27-foot-long living/dining room has a 20-foot-long balcony.

The river-facing end of the apartments is organized about an island kitchen unit that allows the living room space to flow into an adjacent study space that can be used as a dining area. 

On the second floor there are four 1-bedroom apartments, each with a double-height living/dining room. The third floor has a pair of 1-bedroom apartments facing north and south, respectively, and two studio apartments at the eastern end of the building.


An article by Lincoln Anderson in the October 8-14, 2003 issue of The Villager, reported that the third Meier tower at 165 Charles was being developed on a site that "was once home to Pathfinder, a socialist publishing company, and at another point, to a succession of gay bars." "Glenn Bristow, a former Community Board 2 member,” the article continued, “recalled a mural of revolutionary leaders on the building’s south side, which, she said, was blocked from view by a yellow wall put up a few years ago because a neighbor didn’t want to see it." 

Mr. Anderson noted that the Charles Street project was in "an area unprotected by landmarking, west of the Greenwich Village Historic District and south of the newly designated Gansevoort Market Historic District," adding that "in between the new Meier site and his two existing towers is Charles Lane, a historic, cobblestone street ... The Greenwich Village Community Task Force has pushed for the landmarking of the area along the waterfront, which it calls the 'Maritime mile.' But so far the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has not bitten."

In an interview in Architectural Record magazine, Richard Meier said that first two buildings on Perry Street “create a gateway for the Village near the water" and make "Perry Street a symbol of the regeneration of this area."

The Perry Street buildings quickly became the talk of the town and were widely considered “a breath of fresh air.”

Moreover, the "twinness" of the Perry Street towers and their waterfront location conjured memories of the destroyed twin towers of the World Trade Center, which were demolished in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Meier’s design attracted celebrity buyers such as Calvin Klein, the designer, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the restaurateur, Ian Schrager, the hotelier, Martha Stewart, the lifestyle guru, NBC Universal president Michael Jackson and William Joy, the founder of Sun Microsystems.

A March 22, 2004 article by Gabriel Sherman in The New York Observer argued that the third Meier tower made the first two, "which drew such singular praise and attention, in part because of the scarcity of residential buildings by the world-renowned architect," look "a little less special.” 

“On March 12,” the article continued, “Mr. Meier and the developer, Izak Senbahar, formally unveiled the 165 Charles Street tower design at a fashionable party in the white-walled Charles Street gallery. There, guests (including novelist Salman Rushdie), nibbled sushi rolls and clinked champagne flutes as they mingled among clear acrylic models, artists’ renderings and architectural plans for the $80 million Charles Street tower.  Mr. Meier, wearing a midnight-blue pinstriped suit that contrasted with his flowing white mane, dismissed the notion that this new development will overshadow his Perry Street twins. 'It's like a cousin, not a brother or a sister.  So it's related, but it's different,’ the 69-year-old architect said.”

Another article by Gabriel Sherman in the June 14, 2004 issue of the New York Observer noted that Nicole Kidman, the actress who "joined the celebrity flotsam in her 4,000-square-foot loft at Perry Street," was "reportedly smarting over the pending construction of Mr. Meier’s third fishbowl tower at 165 Charles Street, as the building is set to steal the star’s coveted Hudson River views."

Views, of course, are very important to buyers but they are not protected by the city’s zoning and building regulations, but it was not surprising that some buyers in the southern Perry Street Meier tower were a bit annoyed to learn that their southern views would be blocked so quickly and, moreover, that the Richard Meier cachet of exclusive design would no longer be as exclusive. 

An April 27, 2004 article by Sam Lubell in Architectural Record magazine quoted Mr. Meier, who won the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 1984, as saying that the third tower on Charles Street "gives us the opportunity to further develop and evolve the design of my first two towers," adding that "It's like music.  One note is nice, but as you add notes you can create something different."

The design of all three towers was not remarkable given the contemporary state of architecture, but for New York it was very classy, a sort of mini-Seagram Building aesthetic in white with sharp lines and nicely proportioned grids.

Richard Meier was one of the "New York Five" architects who came to prominence in the late 1960s and early 1970's for their adoption of the clean and bright lines of Le Corbusier. The other four architects of the "New York Five" were Charles Gwathmey, Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves and John Hedjuk.  

Richard Meier is best known for his 1970 renovation of Westbeth, a former Bell Labs building at West and Bethune Streets in the West Village, his design of the huge Getty Center in Los Angeles, the High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, the Athenaeum in New Harmony, Indiana, and the former Bronx Developmental Center, which was erected in 1978 and had been operated by the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

This modern residential landmark at 165 Charles Street was the winner of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects 2005 Housing Design Award.


Out of 44

Architecture Rating: 35 / 44

Out of 36

Location Rating: 25 / 36

Out of 39

Features Rating: 25 / 39


CityRealty Rating Reference

  • 30+ remarkable
  • 20-29 distinguished
  • 11-19 average
  • < 11 below average
  • 27+ remarkable
  • 18-26 distinguished
  • 9-17 average
  • < 9 below average
  • 22+ remarkable
  • 16-21 distinguished
  • 9-15 average
  • < 9 below average
  • #16 Rated condo in Manhattan
  • #6 Rated condo - Downtown
  • #1 Rated condo - West Village
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