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Thread: The Museum for African Art - Fifth Avenue @ 110th Street - by Robert A. M. Stern

  1. #181


    Well, the majority of the building isn't a museum, and that's what seems to resemble a hospital.

    Wonder what those luxury condos will sell for.

  2. #182
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    I was up there last Friday and looked around. The cast stone of the facade seems very "dead" in appearance. Even though it has some speckled reflective bits strewn throughout the wan buff color sucks up light.

    The museum portion of the building is the most interesting part. The large courtyard atop the low-rise north wing has what look to be criss-crossing wrought iron pieces set into the openings (the basket weave described in the article).

    No doubt the views from inside the west facing residential units are fantastic: The Haarlem Meer, The Conservatory Garden and the wooded northern reaches of Central Park.

  3. #183
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    A.M. Stern Building Pushes the Boundary of Luxe


    A rendering of the roof deck

    THE designers of 1280 Fifth Avenue — a condominium rising on East 109th Street at the northeast corner of Central Park — have strong connections to Manhattan’s famous patch of green. The beige limestone building is the work of Robert A.M. Stern Architects, whose 15 Central Park West, at the park’s southwest corner, has been setting condo price records. The airy interiors are by Andre Kikoski, who recently designed the Wright, an award-winning restaurant in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, at 89th and Fifth Avenue.

    So it’s no surprise that Mr. Kikoski decided to use the park as inspiration for the building’s public spaces. That meant, he said, that the interiors would include copious natural materials. In one case, he conceived a lobby wall of alabaster, but found that it was more practical to mount a giant photo of the stone (by Weil Studio) between sheets of glass, creating a translucent, wall-sized mural. The lobby ceiling is East Indian laurel wood.

    The condos, which are being marketed by Brown Harris Stevens, range in price from about $750,000, for a studio facing away from the park, to about $3.75 million for a three-bedroom Fifth Avenue unit. They are expected to be ready for occupancy in October. Amenities include a rooftop pool with views of the Robert F. Kennedy-Triborough Bridge.

    But if the 116 apartments in the building visually refer to Central Park, they are physically connected to the Museum for African Art, which will share the building (and have its own entrance north of the residential lobby).

    The museum, which has been hoping to move to the site for more than a decade, had originally planned a partnership with Edison Schools, the for-profit educator. In a 1999 competition Bernard Tschumi, then the dean of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, was chosen to design a building for the company and the museum. The critic Carter Horsley described its undulating wooden facade, set within a glass box, as “an intriguing complement to the curves of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum a mile and a half or so to the south on the avenue.” But Edison backed out in 2002.

    The museum retained its option to buy the land, part of which was owned by the city, and in 2005 it teamed with new partners: Brickman (a company known mostly for commercial real estate) and Sidney Fetner Associates (which later merged with the Durst Organization). The developers, after meetings with Mr. Tschumi, decided to turn to Mr. Stern for an entirely new plan.

    Roderick O’Connor, a founder and a principal of Brickman, said Mr. Stern had an understanding of what Manhattan buyers were looking for. The developer also brought in SLCE Architects, a large Manhattan firm, as the architect of record, which Mr. O’Connor said was “more efficient” than having the Stern office produce construction documents. “Some firms spend a lot of time on design, and some push the work through,” he said, “and you need a combination when you’re doing a building like ours.”

    SLCE worked with Mr. Kikoski on the apartment layouts, which required some squeezing to allow as many units as possible to share the building’s Fifth Avenue frontage. Unit 6A, for example, combines living and dining rooms, a kitchen, a foyer and a “gallery” in a single 50-foot-long space with just one large window facing Central Park.

    Mr. Kikoski also drew up plans for apartments that well-heeled buyers could create by combining units, horizontally or vertically. And he is responsible for the four model apartments, which in addition to showcasing a chair he designed, will have furniture from the French maker Ligne Roset.

    His firm chose everything from the bathroom countertops (Bianco Dolomiti) and floors (Jerusalem limestone) to the kitchen cabinets (teak) and appliances (Bosch, Thermador and Miele).

    The building will test the appeal of a neighborhood in which a penthouse (at 111 Central Park North) sold for $8 million in early 2008, before the current era of market uncertainty. Mr. O’Connor says he tells potential buyers they can look at apartments by Mr. Stern diagonally across Central Park, at 15 Central Park West, for $5,000 a square foot, or at 1280 Fifth Avenue, for less than half that much. Compared with Mr. Stern’s more famous building, he said, “we’re a steal.”

  4. #184
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Museum of African Art to Wait Even Longer for New Home

    September 8, 2010, by Sara

    The Robert A.M. Stern-designed Museum of African Art, the museum topped by condos at Fifth Avenue and 110th Street, was scheduled to open in April 2011. After failing to meet its 2009 completion date, that is. Now, the museum team tells Artinfo, that will be pushed back at least five more months, to a new opening date a year from now. The museum's director, Elsie McCabe Thompson, doesn't want to blame anyone, but says the developers are "months behind schedule" in their work on the building core and shell. To tide us over, Artinfo has a lobby construction shot and rendering. The museum itself, without a permanent home since 1984, probably doesn't even notice these delays anymore.

    First Quicksand, Now a "Complex Situation" Delay New York's African Art Museum [Artinfo]
    Museum of African Art coverage [Curbed]

  5. #185
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Robert A.M. Stern's 1280 Fifth Gets Dressed for All Seasons

    September 16, 2010, by Sara

    (click to enlarge)

    While the Museum for African Art practices its patience downstairs, 1280 Fifth Avenue, the museum-topping new development from architect Robert A.M. Stern, has already hit the market. The 115-unit building, with prices averaging $1,344/square foot, has four model units, designed by Andre Kikoski Architect to match the four seasons as seen in building neighbor Central Park. (The lobby ceiling, for example, takes its design from a dried leaf found by the Kikoski team.) We headed uptown this morning to nab some amateur photos of the models and get an update on sales. The stats: there are five in contract units (prices on currently available units go from $723,900 to $2,733,600), and most interest has come from families already living uptown and from international buyers. The broker tells us unit combos have been popular, not surprising given that the layouts were a little squeezed to spread those park views around.

    1280 FIfth Avenue coverage [Curbed]

  6. #186
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    How the Museum for African Art will change the uptown landscape

    By Jason Sheftell

    Set to open at the end of 2011 with condos for sale for now, the Museum for African Art at 1280 Fifth Ave. is a blessed building.

    Its exterior and museum interiors are designed by one of the world's leading firms, New York-based Robert A.M. Stern Architects. The marketing team for the 116 condominiums, led by Nancy Packes, has a history of selling unique residences that can transform neighborhoods. The developer, Brickman, understands that profit and community-building go hand in hand.

    But its leader, Museum for African Art president Elsie McCabe Thompson, is the person most responsible for the building's existence. She has heroically championed this project to ensure the 27-year old museum's first permanent home is a world-class building worthy of a world-class cultural institution.

    Taking over 40% of the block, the building with the museum and 1280 Fifth Ave.'s luxury condominiums is as important a cultural complex to come to New York City since the Time Warner Center at another corner of the park. It could do for this section of Harlem what the Standard Hotel did for the Meatpacking District - ensure the constant flow of people and positive energy that inspires locals, draws tourists and retail, and leads to area redevelopment and growth.

    Already, developers have improved nearby buildings. A new supermarket is expected on 110th St. Here's a look at all the components that gave life to Harlem's newest real estate poster child.

    The location

    Sitting at the northeast corner of Central Park, there might not be a better combination residential/cultural setting in the country. Capping off Museum Mile at Fifth Ave. and 110th St., the site was a former garage, three city-owned vacant lots and a post-production facility. Across the street from Duke Ellington Circle and Harlem Meer, the museum and condo will become a gateway to Harlem, a signal that its art and culture are as important to New York as 59th St., SoHo or Chelsea.

    "There's a reason I fought for this location," says Thompson, gesturing to the views of Central Park from a 14th-floor, three-bedroom model apartment in the condo tower. "People thought I was out of my mind for wanting to do this here. They don't say that anymore. It's like

    being in Narnia with the park. I could not have imagined a better place."

    When Thompson first saw the site more than 10 years ago, the area was dreary. The Central Park Conservancy refurbished this section of the park, but the general condition of 110th St. was considered unsafe by some locals. Today, after successful condominiums such as 111 Central Park and a new plaza for entering the 2,3 subway station at 110th St. and Lenox Ave., the area is seeing revitalization spearheaded by Central Park, the museum building and new ownership at Heritage Towers, a 1970s-era two-tower, three-building rental project (market rate and affordable) on 111th St. between Fifth and Madison.

    "We want our tenants - new and old - to participate in the excitement of the museum and all the good things happening at this end of the park," says Josh Eisenberg, a principal at Urban American, the developer who purchased Heritage Towers in 2007 and upgraded the apartments and common spaces. "110th St. is not that far uptown anymore."

    The Museum for African Art

    Elsie McCabe Thompson fought 13 years for the museum to find a home. Financing, land assemblage and potential development partners, one promising an educational facility, came and went and came again. So did the real estate market. Through it all, Thompson remained focused, putting together the forces to create a successful museum and give it as formidable a home as other local museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, which was also financed expansion by building condominiums.

    "When I took this job, I didn't know bupkis about art, running a museum or real estate," says Thompson, former chief of staff to Mayor David Dinkins and married to 2009 mayoral candidate Bill Thompson. "But the vision remained the same — to find a permanent home and build a museum that would bridge cultures.

    This building, accessible to Fifth Ave., East Harlem, and Central Harlem, does that. I want local children to grow up in this museum. I want people who don't come to museums to come here. I want something iconic and inviting."

    She got it. The museum contains gallery spaces, a theater, a café/restaurant with outdoor seating, a third-floor event space with outside plaza, space for the Nelson Mandela Center, a gift shop and educational facilities. While the condo portion is 95% complete with early buyers living in the building, the museum will open late this year.

    The building

    Thompson and the museum staff were so inspired by Robert A.M. Stern Architects' building design, they took elements of it for their logo. Made of precast concrete panels, the building shines in sunlight and casts shadows at sunset. Trapezoidal panels identify the museum facade. Another panel with angles relating to the trapezoids is used in the condo façade.

    "That was one of the great things we achieved, making the building a seamless connection between the museum and apartment house," says Stern. "The tower does not swamp the museum, it gives it presence, which was important considering the museum has only four floors."

    Stern and company designed an open 45-foot floor-to-ceiling museum lobby that could become one of the city's great public spaces. Inside, it feels huge, a cavern of shape, light and sound. You envision great things happening here. Spacious galleries for exhibitions will overlook the entrance.

    An outdoor/indoor public space for concerts, corporate events and private dinners on the building's third floor has an adjacent roof terrace with Central Park and Fifth Ave. views. Properly landscaped, it could eventually feel like an elevated extension of the park below.
    "Architecture can only do so much, but it can create a setting for human action," Stern says. "A lot of museums are not in the action. We want to be in the action. The building will have cultural impact with marvelous programs, yes, but we hope the entrance invites people in and the design drives visitation.

    Fortunately, this museum is not a stimulus of development, but a reflection of Harlem's transformation as it evolves racially and economically. This gives Harlem its first great museum."

    The condominiums

    Architect Andre Kikoski designed the condo finishes at 1280 Fifth Ave. NEOSCAPE

    It also gives Harlem its first condominium selling at over an average of $1,265 per square foot. Ready for occupancy, the 18-story 1280 Fifth Ave. has formidable homes to go with its formidable address. Architect Andre Kikoski designed the building's common spaces, including the lobby, children's playroom, resident lounge and rooftop pool. Kikoski, who received accolades for his design of The Wright restaurant at the Guggenheim Museum, selected apartment finishes by taking cues from the colors, shades and textures of Central Park. Bamboo floors, Macassar ebony kitchens and limestone bathrooms give constant freshness.

    The design is so subtle on natural material it almost feels sunny inside all the time.

    Nine units have sold, with several more contracts under negotiation. Nancy Packes, president of Brown Harris Stevens Project Marketing, heads the team marketing the condos. She worked with the developer Brickman and SLCE Architects to shape layouts and unit mix. She has a history of understanding what makes a property unique.

    "This is Fifth Ave.," says Packes, who with the developer's permission shares exact selling prices with each new potential buyer. "This is the last new building site with views on the park. Simply put, these are one of-a-kind-homes offering unparalleled living experience with a direct connection to one of the city's great emerging cultural institutions. Buyers respond to that."

    Prices start in the $700,000 range for studios with home offices facing east with views of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. Ninety percent of the homes have park vistas. Three-bedroom three-bath apartments with full views of Central Park are priced just above $3 million. As part of the deal to purchase the land from the city, developer Brickman will build affordable housing nearby. Thompson selected Brickman, a midsize developer whose principals work on projects themselves, on the strength of their proposal. Her committee thought they could give the project detailed attention. They have.

    "The trend in Harlem and New York City in general is larger homes to accommodate the growing amount of families who want to be here," says Roderick O'Connor, a principal of Brickman. "From a developer's point of view, we looked at this project as extremely special because of its location and museum. It's still a push to get people to come up here, but we believe there is great value. We're patient and working hard to prove that value. I think 110th St. is the new 72nd St."

    Packes goes further to defend prices.

    "We are social animals," she says. "There are visionaries, and there are people who follow visionaries. One of our first buyers was a senior partner specializing in real estate at a major city law firm. He has vision. For the price, this is still the lowest you'll pay on Fifth Ave. facing Central Park."

    DUKE ELLINGTON CIRCLE: Is a facelift coming?

    View of Central Park from the courtyard event space, which is under construction (STEVEN SUNSHINE).

    Though he's been dead since 1974, Duke Ellington has resided at 110th St. and Fifth Ave. since 1995, when Robert Graham's statue immortalized Harlem's bandleader. It's time he had an upgrade. The city should treat Ellington Circle just as it did Columbus Circle, which has become one of the top public spaces in the city after a $20 million facelift. First, they need to close the circle and move the traffic around. Second, they need to landscape the circle and light it efficiently. Third, it needs to blend with the museum entrance and corner of the Central Park, ensuring that visitors can enjoy this important city space for generations.

  7. #187

  8. #188


    I hate this building! It has a million things going on and they're all ugly.

  9. #189


    excerpt -

    Mrs. Thompson said she expects to draw more than the approximately 225,000 yearly visitors who go to the Museum of the City of New York, several blocks south on Fifth Avenue. She also expects substantial revenue from a restaurant; the sale of African jewelry, textiles and other items; and from leasing an event space. ................

    .............. She had initially found a wooden spirit figure from Congo alien and frightening with its surface covered by nails. But she came to learn that each of the nails represented an oath or prayer — for example, a ritual prayer for the harvest or the resolution of a dispute between neighbors. “It represents the hopes and dreams, the fears, the prayers, the aspirations of a single community of people for generations,” she said of the sculpture. “For me that’s what resonated.”

    She hopes that the museum will bring Africa, long misunderstood as a “dark, distant place,” out of the shadows, she said. Its debut will certainly usher Mrs. Thompson further into the spotlight, a place she may one day inhabit even more prominently depending upon the political future.

  10. #190
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    East Midtown


    It's a train wreck. Just terrible!

  11. #191
    Jersey Patriot JCMAN320's Avatar
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    May 2003
    Jersey City


    I've passed it numerous times and the building itself does not stand out at all. It wasn't till I noticed the windows that it was what it is. Unremarkable and not a great addition to the neighborhood in terms of asthetics.

  12. #192


    nice street lamps-

  13. #193
    Fearless Photog RoldanTTLB's Avatar
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    May 2009
    Broomfield, CO


    For reference, it's about 1300/sqft.

    The floorplans are a little strange because of how they squeezed the hallway in, but they are, for the most part, pretty civilized. I've seen worse, that's for sure. All things considered, it's a pretty reasonable spot as well. No more remote than Yorkville, just a little further north. There's not so many new-build 5th avenue addresses either, so there's that too.

  14. #194


    Yeah, this is not working for me...

  15. #195
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    A Home for Art That's Outside the Box


    The decision by the Museum for African Art to hire Robert A.M. Stern to design its new home that's nearing completion on the northeast corner of Central Park was a bit of a head-scratcher.

    Mr. Stern's most noted recent contribution to the New York skyline was 15 Central Park West, a deluxe, retro-chic limestone condominium that was a perfect example of the "apartment house" notion that Mr. Stern has long championed. With its classic high ceilings and luxurious lobby, it became a big hit with the city's well-heeled set and rang up more than $2 billion in sales to buyers like Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and entertainer Sting.

    But Mr. Stern's apartment house concept is at its heart deeply elitist. In an interview recently at Yale's School of Architecture, of which he's the dean, Mr. Stern says the idea is based on the notion of Parisian buildings with the concierge on the first floor, the wealthy aristocracy on the next few floors, so they don't have to walk up too many stairs, the less well-off petit-bourgeois above them, and the servants on the top floors, which, in the pre-elevator era, required serious cardiovascular strain to access.

    Mr. Stern says he's proud of his track record of building marquee structures with steep price tags. "I'm not part of the Occupy Wall Street set," he said "Why should I be upset that Lloyd Blankfein lives in my building? There are a number of private people there who aren't as well known but who are also captains of industry. These are very hard-working, successful people. You can't always be popular."

    Still, the Museum for African Art, which is on the bottom floors of a $100 million building including gallery space and a 19-story luxury condo tower sought a structure that provides an inviting welcome to the lower-income communities of Harlem. The museum's directors didn't want a structure built "in the architectural vocabulary of elitism," according to Elsie McCabe Thompson, the museum's president.

    But while there are no doubt good intentions behind the design of the museum development, which is scheduled to be completed next year, they're being executed with considerable banality. The whole project resembles the condo towers being built near the Williamsburg waterfront these days: huge, contemporary boxes of glass, concrete panels and metal that have as little character as the chain retail stores that populate their ground floors.

    The design of the museum is even more concerning. The main distinction in Mr. Stern's design is the inclusion of dozens of what he calls "dancing mullions." They are V-shaped window dividers that crawl up and down the sides of the building in a pattern meant to evoke African weaving-work and a sense of motion that characterizes some African art.

    The main distinctions in the design are the window dividers.

    Mr. Stern explains this as a matter of populist consideration. "We wanted to make a museum that people feel comfortable coming to," he said. "We didn't want it to be a western, classical box. We believe it gives the sense of meaning and platform in some traditional African art."

    But it's easy to find this element of the building annoying and reductive: just as one might think, looking at the outside of the Met or the Philadelphia Museum of Art, that all Western art begins and ends with classical aesthetics and proportions, the new museum at the top of Central Park suggests that the entire continent of Africa's art never moved beyond quirky fabric patterns, or that it's all funky, rhythmic shapes that evoke dance and positivity.

    To be sure, the development when completed will add some flair to Duke Ellington Circle. Designs for the project show a grand, triple-height lobby that will open up the inside of the building northward toward Harlem. The project's L-shaped footprint interacts nicely with the circle and the openness of Central Park's northeast corner.

    But in the end, the project is a victim of trying to do too much. The museum's directors wanted Mr. Stern's name on the building to help sell high priced condominiums that helped, through a sale of air rights, to pay for the museum space. But Mr. Stern's strengths are far better suited to high-end apartment houses than a museum dedicated to the arts and cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora.

    The museum, which is now housed in an administrative office in Long Island City, will get a shiny new home. But its collection deserves a stronger architectural statement.

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