View Full Version : A new crop of signature buildings

October 8th, 2002, 01:24 AM
From the September 08, 2002 issue of New York Magazine.
Gotham Real Estate
Outside the Box
Developers try a novel sales pitch: top-notch architects and good buildings.

By Aric Chen

Martha Stewart's biotech portfolio isn't paying off, but her eye for architecture still looks like a good thing. The unfinished penthouse she bought for $6 million in 2000 is back on the market -- at about $15 million. And it doesn't take insider knowledge to see why it's been such a good investment: The duplex is in the striking new Richard Meier buildings at 173–176 Perry Street.

Have developers finally figured out what Stewart built her empire on -- that design can sell? A new crop of signature buildings seems to say yes. "They're unique and special, so they can command a high price," explains developer Richard Born. Meier's glass-skinned towers have attracted not just Martha but fastidious types like Calvin Klein and Nicole Kidman, who've been willing to pay nearly $2,000 a square foot, easily twice the market rate.

New York, for all its design savvy and money, has for decades been a rotten place for architecture, thanks to developers who see beauty in terms of return-per-square-foot. Name architects often get the blahs here (witness Robert A. M. Stern's Chatham on East 65th Street, or Michael Graves's Impala on East 76th), and we won't discuss Philip "I am a whore" Johnson's gaudy extravaganzas. "You don't pass those buildings and say, 'Wow, look at that,' " says Born. (Except with a wince.)

This next wave of buildings seems to break the mold, and while developers are far from becoming tastemakers, they're making the city safe for better building. "If you've got a commodity everyone else has -- a brick box -- you can only compete by price," says first-time developer Jonathon Carroll, who, unshaken by market uncertainties, broke ground on an eleven-story condo at 497 Greenwich Street in January. "Ours will be so differentiated that I don't think we'll have to do that." The building, with an arresting façade of undulating glass (pictured), is by the local firm Archi-Tectonics, whose Dutch-born principal, Winka Dubbeldam, is a rising star. "We haven't even really begun to market it," says broker Richard Cantor of Cantor & Pecorella. As units go for $1.2 million to $7.1 million, "it's literally selling itself because of the quality of the design."

Others hope to follow. Developer Stephen Touhey's plan for a residential tower in the meatpacking district is controversial for its size and location, but its catchy design by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel has also earned it fans. And even the nonagenarian Johnson's plan for 328 Spring Street (killed off by community opposition) was surprisingly handsome. "There's so much garbage being built," says one entrepreneur who's itching to buy into the Greenwich Street building. "But this is great architecture. Very little would tempt me to move right now. Except maybe the Richard Meier buildings."

October 13th, 2002, 08:19 PM
Do you know if the is a website for the Richard Meire Building on Perry St? Also do you know which brokerage firm is selling the units? Thanks so much in advance.

- Batfish

October 15th, 2002, 08:14 PM
Excellent. This is obviously very heartening.

October 15th, 2002, 09:00 PM
New York, for all its design savvy and money, has for decades been a rotten place for architecture, thanks to developers who see beauty in terms of return-per-square-foot.

Even if this is true about developers, how can they say that architecture in NYC is rotten? *I think there are some really awesome sites to see, far better than any other major city!

October 17th, 2002, 05:06 AM
This is related and discusses the new Meier buildings in particular: http://www.architectureweek.com/2002/1016/design_1-1.html

January 10th, 2003, 01:01 PM
here is the site that *marketed the buildings:

March 7th, 2003, 08:44 PM
Good news on the Nouvel buiding. It seems more likely to be built now.

848 Washington Street
Washington & West 18th Streets
31/32 stories *433/489 ft
Jean Nouvel

From the Villager:

Market tower now planned to be a hotel

By: Albert Amateau March 07, 2003

Stephen Touhey, who proposed to build a slender 32-story residential tower designed by Jean Nouvel in the Meat Market, this week withdrew his application for a zoning variance for the site zoned for manufacturing and commercial use. *
Instead, Touhey intends to put a hotel of the same size and design, which is allowed by existing zoning, on the site at 848 Washington St. according to a March 3 letter from his lawyer, Howard Hornstein, to the Board of Standards and Appeals.

Preservation advocates and Community Board 2 who had opposed the residential variance were pleased but remained concerned that a 450-ft.-tall hotel is to be built in the low-rise neighborhood, which is likely to be designated as the Gansevoort Market Historic District.

"This is a tremendous victory for the community," said Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. "It's a case where a tremendous outpouring from the community has made a developer say, 'Hey, I've lost,' and change his plans. It shows we can win sometimes."

The variance, under consideration for more than a year, was scheduled for a March 25 B.S.A. decision, and March 4 was the last day for written submissions to the appeals board concerning the project.

Touhey was quoted in the March 4 issue of Crain's New York Business as saying the B.S.A. would probably turn him down, so he had decided to build the slender Nouvel-designed tower as a 200-room hotel. Touhey told The Villager the hotel will have between 170 and 220 hotel rooms. Under the original residential plan, the building was to have 34 apartments, planned to market for more than $1 million each.

Touhey's hotel would be the third in the neighborhood. The Hotel Gansevoort, 14 stories with 188 rooms, is under construction on the irregular-shaped lot between Little W. 12th St., Hudson St. and W. 13th St. A British operator is proposing Soho House, a hotel with 24 units, for the former Hanover Moving and Storage Company, an eight-story building on Ninth Ave at 13th St.

Opponents of Touhey's residential tower said the upscale apartments would have had a devastating impact on the gritty character of the neighborhood, eventually forcing out the remaining meat wholesalers as well as the bars, restaurants and clubs that have moved into the district.

Opponents also were - and still are - concerned about the size of the project in the midst of a low-rise area. But the height and the floor-to-area ratio coverage of the Nouvel design are allowed as-of-right and were not under consideration by the B.S.A.

"We've won the battle but we recognize the war isn't over," said Berman. "We're concerned with anything Mr. Touhey develops; he has an eye for very large, outstanding structures. While a hotel would not have the same devastating impact of a residence, it might still create significant problems for the existing businesses."

Although Touhey is determined to find an operator for the proposed hotel, real estate sources noted that prospects for a third hotel in the district are problematic in a down economy and a decline in tourism.

Touhey, however, said the construction of the Hotel Gansevoort has created new confidence in the market. "We began negotiating with hotel operators last year, with W Hotel for one, but nothing came out of it. Now, with the Gansevoort going into the ground, there is more interest and we're re-opening talks with several operators."

The Nouvel project, which incorporates a section of the High Line, the long-unused elevated railroad that runs from Horatio St. to W. 33rd St., is just outside the boundary of the proposed Gansevoort Market Historic District, which will be the subject of a hearing by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The hearing will be at 9:30 a.m. hearing on March 18 on the ninth floor of One Centre St.

The G.V.S.H.P. and the affiliated Save the Gansevoort Market Task Force had originally called for designation of the entire Meat Market district between Ninth Ave. and West St., from 15th St. to Horatio St.

But the Landmarks Commission omitted the area along Washington St. and to the west of where the High Line runs because the eventual fate of the High Line has not yet been determined.

©The Villager 2003 *


March 7th, 2003, 09:07 PM
Not to bad yet not to good. This building is unique

March 8th, 2003, 12:51 PM
It looks weird. I'm skeptical about its very dark color.

March 8th, 2003, 02:24 PM
Does anybody else here think the idea of a "meat market historic district" is a little absurd? *Put up plaques if you want, but the drab warehouses have little value once the meat-packing is gone. *Sometimes I think people aren't going to stop until the Museum of the City of New York = Manhattan Island.

Jean Nouvel is a cool architect. *I like the proposal, and I hope they do something cool with the High-Line. *It's potentially a fantastic link to the City's plans for the west Side, because it connects to the site where the Jets stadium is proposed.

(Edited by dbhstockton at 2:25 pm on Mar. 8, 2003)

March 8th, 2003, 02:56 PM
Also by Jean Nouvel, the well-known Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, with the *aperatures that can narrow or widen:




March 8th, 2003, 02:58 PM
I think that historic preservation is one of the most imprtant factors in making cities desireable and healthy. *I also think that big buildings belong in spaces that have other big buildings. *This district might need revitalization but not by these means.

March 8th, 2003, 06:39 PM
Quote: from dbhstockton on 2:24 pm on Mar. 8, 2003
Does anybody else here think the idea of a "meat market historic district" is a little absurd? *

Yeah, I do. It's just like when people complained about the closing of the Fulton Fish Market.

March 8th, 2003, 10:02 PM
I have always liked this building and I think it will be a real success in that neighborhood. *This building will really stand out in the skyline since there is nothing else near it.

(Edited by Zoe at 10:02 pm on Mar. 8, 2003)

March 9th, 2003, 05:35 AM
Another well-known, unbuilt project by Nouvel :


March 9th, 2003, 09:22 AM
It looks weird. I'm skeptical about its very dark color.

It is weird, its contextual in that its industrial, but its largely modernist.

March 9th, 2003, 10:52 AM
Wow I realy like the building design he did for La Defense. *Does a building like this that is proposed for one site/city ever get built in another city after being rejected?

March 9th, 2003, 11:36 AM
Nice. This guy is a great architect. This building is really amazing and out of the norm, yet not extremly abnormal.

March 9th, 2003, 12:57 PM
Quote: from Zoe on 10:52 am on Mar. 9, 2003
Wow I realy like the building design he did for La Defense. *Does a building like this that is proposed for one site/city ever get built in another city after being rejected?

We'll see if the Grollo Tower that was rejected in Melbourne is finally built in Dubai. (I vaguely think it's Dubai, but I'm not sure...)

March 9th, 2003, 01:15 PM
Nouvel's got kind of a Dr. Evil thing going on:


Another view:

March 9th, 2003, 01:36 PM
Yes. And he often wears a black hat too.
I met the man in person a couple of years ago.
He was more interested in his pretty japanese admirers than in me.

March 9th, 2003, 01:48 PM
I love this building. It will have such a prominent location. For those that know the site, it will fit with its surroundings without being drearily contextual. The site is currently a large parking lot.

dbhstockton- I couldn't agree more re. the silliness of the landmarking crowd- a bunch of anti-everythings. The neighborhood is primarily parking lots and low- slung industrial buildings. It’s hardly appropriate for landmarking. *No one cared about landmarking the district until developers became interested in the parking lots. Once the Meat Market began gentrifying, Villagers started waxing poetic on the beauty of the area. Whatever. I like the neighborhood’s current edginess, but these new hotels will only improve the area. Both new hotels (Nouvel and the Gansevoort) are bring built on parking lots. No harm done. The area will never be mistaken for Midtown.

OKoranjes- I think your idea that “big buildings only belong in areas with other big buildings” is frankly silly. If this were the case, New York would have the exact same streetscape as in the 19th century. Certainly no Empire State Building- NY would be a minor east coast city instead of the capital of the world.

March 10th, 2003, 10:05 AM
Not sure about the market, but they do need to keep out the residential development.

This area is still a meatpacking area, but now with bars, clubs, etc thrown in. The minute a building is made residential, is the minute the complaints start pouring in about smells, noise, etc. *

March 10th, 2003, 08:05 PM
So what? Neighborhoods change roles with the times. To attempt to freeze them is absurd, and when the fading role is far from glorious it becomes ridiculous. That they are actually considering it shows how morbid the mentality of many New Yorkers has become. The laws should be changed; the preservation movement has been perverted.

The developer canceled the lowrise buildings hoping that a reduction in size would help his project's approval. Now that it is as-of-right perhaps they will be built. They would help integrate the section of the High Line in a dramatic way.

March 11th, 2003, 10:27 AM
True, but b/c of the NIMBYism of many NYers, if people bagan living here in droves, then the nightlife factor of this area will be greatly compromised, as it has been almost everywhere else in the city.

People live/come in/to NY for many reasons, one of them being a vibrant, diverse, pentiful nightlife. *NYC has already seen it's danceclubs getting trashed to the point that it's losing it's world-class status. *We don't need one of the few bastions of nightlife promise to be compromised by cranky million dollar loft owners.

I love development just like anyone else on this board and I am NOT for stiffling new building, but certain uses fit certain areas. *It's like going into LIC and getting rid of ALL the factories, etc, and telling the thousands *of workers "bye." *The city needs jobs and it needs nightlife. *The hotel sounds great, maybe throw in some office space for fashion, design, etc.

March 11th, 2003, 03:49 PM
What will these NIMBY's do next, call for the entire city to turn back into its 19th century cityscape? No wait, they want to turn it into another 19th-century Beacon Hill, where there is neither skscrapers nor nightlife nor even large loft buildings.

The Brain
March 14th, 2003, 08:15 PM

March 14th, 2003, 08:16 PM
Yes, there are several threads here about it.

March 14th, 2003, 08:22 PM
Grow a brain, do a search then read the forum rules of conduct in Forum Issues.

The Brain
March 15th, 2003, 08:26 AM
Get a life I guess your the local cop heh

March 15th, 2003, 08:35 AM
Way to go to get kicked out, moron.

The Brain
March 15th, 2003, 09:37 AM
Lucky for you, your protected behind your computer, and probobly an invalid or wheelchair bound. Otherwise youd get smacked

March 15th, 2003, 09:47 AM
The administrator will be back from his cruise in about a week, which is also the amount of time you get to stay with us. Enjoy.

March 16th, 2003, 03:48 AM
ROFL! * :)

March 16th, 2003, 06:43 AM
March 16, 2003
A High-Rise Falls Before It's Built

Butchers and nightclub owners may dress differently. But in the meatpacking district they keep similar hours (the wee ones), and they have had a shared goal: to keep a 450-foot apartment tower from going up at 848 Washington Street.

On March 4 they won a major battle when Landmark Development decided to drop a request to the Board of Standards and Appeals to build the residence in this manufacturing area. The developer is now considering a hotel, which some see as a lesser threat to the area's character.

Opponents feared the tower would threaten local businesses.

"It was going to be surrounded on three sides by meatpacking companies," said Florent Morellet, who owns the nearby restaurant Florent. "Once you have residents living among industrial, the residents immediately start complaining that it's too loud. That's why we have zoning."

Pat Pacifico, executive director of the board, said that, although it rendered no decision, opponents had made an energetic case against the building, which was planned for 32 stories. "A developer's decision to withdraw is usually based on how hard is it to get this variance,'' he said, "and I really do believe that they saw that this community was going to fight them to the end."

Stephen Touhey, a managing partner for Landmark Development, said community opposition was the main reason for the withdrawal. He said that the hotel that his company was now considering might have 175 to 200 rooms as well as a similar tower, but would not require a variance.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

March 16th, 2003, 06:51 AM
Map of the proposed district:

March 16th, 2003, 07:19 PM
I took some photos earlier today of the area around the proposed Nouvel building. Remember, this area has a markedly different atmosphere during the week.

View north on Washington St at Little W 12. The tower portion would be on the left of the high line.

View west on W 13 St.

One block north on Washington St. This is an active meat packing facility.

Across the street from the above building, this one has been converted. The entire ground floor is small retail. Only a few are open, but all storefronts having work permits in the windows.

Another building being renovated on 9th Ave and W 13 St.

Hudson St and 9th Ave looking south. These buildings occupy a prominent spot. If this area is landmarked, will these buildings be preserved? IMO, no architectural value.

Intersection of Ganesvoort, Little W 12, 9th Ave, and Greenwich. I think this spot should get some special consideration. Many restaurants here, and a gateway to the Village (to the left).

Same area as above

Retail on W 13, complete with historic pork.

I don't think landmarking is the answer, but a large resident base may not be desirable either. The area may not look busy, but there are restaurants, shops, galleries, and clubs, and taxis looking for fares. The area is ideally located between Chelsea and the Village.

The hotels are a good idea. City planning and the BSA should
decide what they want this area to evolve into, and help it along.

March 17th, 2003, 08:33 PM
Charming. I find it attractive, but should it retain the same character forever? You can't preserve grit anyway. Does the city need its meat packed in the center? I doubt it. It may need nightclub districts, but they don't require exclusive zoning. Residents should be aware of the inconveniences and be forced to either accept them or move out.

March 17th, 2003, 09:27 PM
Quote: from Kris on 8:33 pm on Mar. 17, 2003
Charming. I find it attractive, but should it retain the same character forever? You can't preserve grit anyway. Does the city need its meat packed in the center? I doubt it. It may need nightclub districts, but they don't require exclusive zoning. Residents should be aware of the inconveniences and be forced to either accept them or move out.That's my point. The character of the area is changing. The meat packing industry is slowly being moved out. Right now, the residential presence is small, but increasing it will create conflict between residents and the commercial/entertainment element.

I fear that historical zoning will curtail the area's development.

June 24th, 2003, 09:29 AM
Thanks for linking in my photograph....

More information on the Institut du Monde Arabe here:

Another Jean Nouvel building in Tours