March 22, 2009
By ALEC APPELBAUM
TWO pencil-thin towers are making their mark on the East 20s.
Construction will end in May at the very skinny 60-story One Madison Park at 23rd Street and Madison Avenue, which packs 65 apartments into a building that measures 50 feet across the front.
Farther up Madison Avenue is another tall drink of water, the 55-story Sky House at 11 East 29th Street, which also measures 50 feet across the entrance (and 37.5 feet in the rear). It opened in January 2008 and has 133 apartments.
Both projects started with tiny lots and grew when developers bought air rights from shorter neighbors. For Sky House, the Clarett Group bought air rights above the parish house of a neighboring church. The architects, FXFowle, then gave high-floor apartments a western view for sunsets.
For One Madison Park, the developer, Slazer Enterprises, bought abutting air rights as far south as a special height-limited district on East 22nd Street and as far west as a tower at the corner of Fifth Avenue, said Marc Jacobs, a Slazer partner. The architect of the free-standing building was Cetra/Ruddy.
Slazer then commissioned the architect Rem Koolhaas to design a midrise building on East 22nd whose distinctive shape will not block One Madison Park’s sight lines.
On One Madison Park’s upper floors, huge windows throughout mean that even bathroom sinks look out over water. Likewise, Sky House faces Chelsea, where zoning restricts building height.
So, the developers say, a guarantee that the views will last forever comes with reported sales prices at Sky House of an average $1,350 per square foot and at One Madison Park of $2,500.
Whether these views can buck the frozen credit market remains unclear. City tax records dated Feb. 27, 2009, show that Sky House closed on 83 of 133 apartments.
Alison Maiore, a spokeswoman for the developer, said that as of March 11, 119 Sky House apartments had closed and 116 owners had moved in.
Mr. Jacobs said that 64 of One Madison Park’s units had gone to contract and would begin closing as soon as May.
But Slazer could not address whether prospective buyers will get the mortgages they anticipated. Jonathan J. Miller, the president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, says that all new developments are struggling to close sales as lenders withhold credit.
Mr. Jacobs is confident that his views will do the trick. He said Slazer had spurned offers above $30 million for the penthouse triplex; the developers are asking $45 million for that one-of-a-kind setting. The penthouse unit’s 360-degree scenery includes planes taking off and landing at the airports in Queens.
Besides views, both buildings have many perks, including gyms and playrooms placed above the lobbies to emphasize the exposures.
The slimness of the buildings leaves sparse room for the structural features that most architects conceal in thick walls. So the shear wall that stabilizes a building, usually hidden in a thick core beside an elevator bank, becomes part of the design. One Madison Park’s shear wall stands between apartments on floors that contain two units and separates rooms in full-floor apartments.
At Sky House, the load-bearing wall becomes a room divider, providing balance to the heady view. “This nice strong column anchors it,” said Veronica Hackett, a managing partner of Clarett. “It doesn’t feel like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m going to fall over.’ ”
And One Madison Park’s engineer, the Cantor Seinuk Group, anchored the building without placing concrete columns around the perimeter. As John Cetra, a principal of Cetra/Ruddy, explained it, three enormous tubs of water on the roof function like an anvil. One holds 20,000 gallons; the other two hold 22,500 gallons each. When the wind blows in one direction, water moves the opposite way in the tubs, braking the building’s tendency to quiver.
“The weight is the water,” Mr. Cetra said. “We didn’t have to lug up steel plates or pour excessive concrete to anchor the building.”
And that meant more soaring glass.
What happens when the water dries up?
You fill it with champagne
Of course! (Silly me!)
The outside elevator on the south side has come down.
Cladding over the exposed concrete continues to go up ...
1 Madison Park
Any ideas as to why they didn't complete the demo to the East?
Curious about the status of the second tower in this development.
I've only found one document in the Department of Buildings data that even refers to it. And it shows the South tower going up to 24 floors (click "Amendment A" on the website below).
But that plan was just shown as "Disapproved" a week ago.
I leave it to greater minds to say what (if anything) this all means!
Last edited by RID; May 19th, 2009 at 03:13 PM. Reason: fix url
does anyone happen to have a shot from all the way down w23rd st near the chelsea piers? that's a real interesting view, it stands out quite a bit in the distance as you look east across 23rd. i was coming back from the frying pan yesterday afternoon and that view wowed me.
The Wendys has been closed since construction began. The west wall of this building was rebuilt. They are still doing work on the area just east of 1 Mad Pk and west of Wendys--a basement level with plumbing-it is not clear what it is.
No work on the 22nd Street site.
This building makes me want to rob a bank or win the lottery. Or rob someone who won the lottery.