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Thread: Proposed - 980 Madison Avenue - by Norman Foster

  1. #46

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    Reading my first post in this thread, I note that all of my fears came to fruition.

    Quote Originally Posted by londonlawyer View Post
    This news was reported in the April 19th edition of the New York Post, and the following article appeared on cityrealty.com on April 20th.

    I hope that the tower will not be tall because, notwithstanding The Carlyle, this part of the UES is not suited for a tall tower. I also hope that it will not be glass because a shiny tower would look absurd in this area. If a shiny 20 story (or more) glass tower rises on this stretch of Madison, I will be more firmly convinced that Abby Rosenfeld, like Gershon Barnett, is intent upon ruining NY's classic areas....

    While the current structure is hardly worth keeping, it would be nice if someone would develop the two shoddy buildings located on the east side of Madison between 77th and 78th (one of which is a Bellmarc Realty office). These two, along with the small diner on the southwest corner of 79th and Madison, are practically the only mierda on Madison that needs a date with the wrecking ball.

    Anyway, here's the article:

    The five-story, limestone-clad building at 980 Madison Avenue that occupies the west blockfront between 76th and 77th Streets may be replaced by a residential condominium tower designed by Sir Norman Foster for RFR Holdings, Inc.
    Sources in the real estate industry told CityRealty.com yesterday they were aware that such a plan was afoot, but did not know any specific details.

    RFR Holdings Inc., acquired the building in late 2004 for about $120 million from the Peter Sharp Foundation, which last year also sold its interest in the 249-room Carlyle Hotel across the avenue to Maritz, Wolff & Company, an investment group that owns a major interest in Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, which operates the hotel, for about $130 million.

    An article by Lois Weiss in yesterday’s edition of The New York Post noted that Foster is designing an office building at 200 Greenwich Street at Ground Zero and “is planning two towers for RFR Holdings – one at 610 Lexington and 53rd Street by the Seagram Building, and the other on the old Sotheby’s building at 77th Street and Madison Avenue.”

    The latter building is 980 Madison Avenue and is known as the Carlyle Galleries Building, whose tenants include the Gagosian Gallery and the East Side office of Prudential Douglas Elliman, the real estate firm. It was built in 1950 as the Parke-Bernet Building and designed by Walker & Poor and is notable for a large sculpture over the entrance by Wheeler Williams. The building, which is in the Upper East Side Historic District, was expanded in 1987.

    Parke-Bernet was the leading art auction house in the United States and was later acquired by Sotheby’s.

    In their fine book, “The A.I.A. Guide to New York City, Fourth Edition” (Three Rivers Press, 2000), Elliot Willensky and Norval White observed that “Unfortunately, Parke-Bernet’s ‘house’ is an insipid box unrelated to any cultural values.”

    Despite such criticism, the building was the elegant backdrop for many years for the brilliant auctioneering of John Marion, widely considered the best auctioneer of the 20th Century. For many years, French & Co., one of the city’s most prestigious art dealers, also had quarters in the building.

    In an October 28, 2001 article in The New York Times, Christopher Gray noted that the 40-story Carlyle Hotel on 76th Street and adjoining 14-story apartment building on 77th Street comprised “the signature project of Moses Ginsberg,” who had built the impressive apartment building at 133 East 80th Street in 1929. The following year he began construction of the hotel to designs by Sylvan Bien and Harry M. Prince.

    Mr. Ginsberg subsequently lost the Madison Avenue blockfront in the early days of the Depression and it was acquired by Robert Dowling who, Mr. Gray wrote, “put up the old Parke-Bernet building across the street…to protect the Carlyle’s west light.”

    Since its construction, the hotel has been the most prominent skyline landmark above 61st Street on the Upper East Side west of Third Avenue.

    A new tower, whose design would have to be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, would likely partially obstruct many views of the Carlyle Hotel from Central Park as well as many views to the south from the Mark Hotel, directly across 77th Street from 980 Madison Avenue and shown to the right of 980 Madison Avenue in the accompanying photograph. The Alexico Group recently acquired the Mark Hotel to convert it to residential condominiums.

    Foster is one of the world’s most famous architects and is known for his high-tech designs, which include the Hearst Tower now nearing completion on the southwest corner of Eighth Avenue and 57th Street.

    One of the principals of RFR Holdings is Aby J. Rosen, an active art collector whose other properties include two of the most famous post-war buildings in the city: the Seagram Building and Lever House, both on Park Avenue in midtown.

  2. #47

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    I read an article in Sunday's NY Times about St. Bart's on Park. The original church, pictured below, was on Madison and 44th. In my opinion, "progress" has not really been the best of friend when it comes to NYC's architecture.


  3. #48
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    Putting the tower aside for a second, could somebody explain what Foster was thinking with regard to the base? It doesn't appear to have any historic or aesthetic value. Why preserve it? I know it is located in an historic district, but since the building itself is not that old, it would seem that a context-sensitive design for the base could win approval from the city. Would this be impossible, or are the developers simply risk-adverse? This seems like a very different situation from the Hearst Tower, where this base did have historical and architectural value.

  4. #49

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    Another Foster tower in NY? We should consider ourselves lucky. It looks incredible!

    I'm very worried that the LPC will water it down though.

  5. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by londonlawyer View Post
    PS: Just because the Carlyle is tall does not mean that there should be carte blanche to build highrises in the rest of this area and certainly not ones made of reflective glass.
    I've got news for you: just because the Carlyle is tall doesn't mean that there shouldn't be carte blanche to build highrises in the rest of the area. If it did, then everyone over in Brooklyn who's arguing to keep the buildings under Williamsburg Savings Bank's height would be right. It doesn't have to be either way.

    I think there's something to be said about making generalizations for an entire area. There are clearly some streets on the upper East side where such a building would not be appropriate. On this part of Madison, I'm not so sure it isn't. When considering a new building in a historic neighborhood, there are usually two things at the top of the list to look at:

    1) Does it destroy any current buildings that are historic?
    2) Is it of high quality?

    I'd say this building answers both questions well.

  6. #51

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    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman11686 View Post
    I've got news for you: just because the Carlyle is tall doesn't mean that there shouldn't be carte blanche to build highrises in the rest of the area. If it did, then everyone over in Brooklyn who's arguing to keep the buildings under Williamsburg Savings Bank's height would be right. It doesn't have to be either way.

    I think there's something to be said about making generalizations for an entire area. There are clearly some streets on the upper East side where such a building would not be appropriate. On this part of Madison, I'm not so sure it isn't. When considering a new building in a historic neighborhood, there are usually two things at the top of the list to look at:

    1) Does it destroy any current buildings that are historic?
    2) Is it of high quality?

    I'd say this building answers both questions well.

    Well said!

  7. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman11686 View Post
    I've got news for you: just because the Carlyle is tall doesn't mean that there shouldn't be carte blanche to build highrises in the rest of the area. If it did, then everyone over in Brooklyn who's arguing to keep the buildings under Williamsburg Savings Bank's height would be right. It doesn't have to be either way.

    I think there's something to be said about making generalizations for an entire area. There are clearly some streets on the upper East side where such a building would not be appropriate. On this part of Madison, I'm not so sure it isn't. When considering a new building in a historic neighborhood, there are usually two things at the top of the list to look at:

    1) Does it destroy any current buildings that are historic?
    2) Is it of high quality?

    I'd say this building answers both questions well.

    I respect your opinion. I do, however, have news for you: Madison and 77th is not Flatbush Avenue.

  8. #53
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    I know very well that it isn't. I was disputing that one part of your argument, namely, the influence that older, equally tall buildings should have in designing a new building nearby. I used the Atlantic Yards example because it is probably one of the most familiar ones. I'm sure we could come up with many more. In fact, I can think of another development in the pipeline that I know you're in favor of: the Con Ed site. Believe it or not, the NIMBY's in Tudor City use exactly the same type of argument you use:

    1) Tall building nearby (UN) doesn't give clearance to build tall. It should be respected.

    2) Modern, highrise development is out of character with the neighborhood.

    What do you think about making generalizations for an entire neighborhood? If we prescribed modern, highrise buildings for all of Midtown, then you shouldn't be missing those townhouses on 56th street.

  9. #54

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    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman11686 View Post
    I know very well that it isn't. I was disputing that one part of your argument, namely, the influence that older, equally tall buildings should have in designing a new building nearby. I used the Atlantic Yards example because it is probably one of the most familiar ones. I'm sure we could come up with many more. In fact, I can think of another development in the pipeline that I know you're in favor of: the Con Ed site. Believe it or not, the NIMBY's in Tudor City use exactly the same type of argument you use:

    1) Tall building nearby (UN) doesn't give clearance to build tall. It should be respected.

    2) Modern, highrise development is out of character with the neighborhood.

    What do you think about making generalizations for an entire neighborhood? If we prescribed modern, highrise buildings for all of Midtown, then you shouldn't be missing those townhouses on 56th street.

    I do favor highrises at the Con Ed site, but that's Midtown Manhattan. This building would be nice on 1st, 2nd or 3rd. In my opinion, it does not belong on this site.

  10. #55
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    I know you favor highrises on the Con Ed site. That's why I brought it up. I'm saying it's inconsistent on your part to be in favor of that development, while being opposed to this one, because those NIMBY's are using the same argument against Solow as you're using against Rosen.

    Or are they? Now you've changed your wording to "not appropriate for this site." So are you saying there are other sites in the area that would work?

    Just to clarify: I know you said it could go on 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Aves. But those are almost entirely different neighborhoods than Park, Madison, and 5th. I want to know: is there anywhere in this part of the Upper East Side where you could accept this building?

  11. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyO View Post

    What he has designed is a perfect monument for the emerging city of the enlightened megarich: environmentally aware, sensitive to history, confident of its place in the new world order, resistant to sacrifice.
    "Enlightened"? Then how come they've created such a mess of things?

    "Reistent to sacrifice" ... Absolutely.

    LPC will never let this go through as shown.

  12. #57

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    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman11686 View Post
    I know you favor highrises on the Con Ed site. That's why I brought it up. I'm saying it's inconsistent on your part to be in favor of that development, while being opposed to this one, because those NIMBY's are using the same argument against Solow as you're using against Rosen.

    Or are they? Now you've changed your wording to "not appropriate for this site." So are you saying there are other sites in the area that would work?

    Just to clarify: I know you said it could go on 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Aves. But those are almost entirely different neighborhoods than Park, Madison, and 5th. I want to know: is there anywhere in this part of the Upper East Side where you could accept this building?
    There's nothing inconsistent about my statements. I like tall modern buildings in certain areas. I would be against this building on any site from
    65th and 96 streets from 5th to Lex. I would be against it on CPW, in the West Village and in many other places. I'd love to see it in Midtown or downtown.

  13. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman11686 View Post

    I'm saying it's inconsistent on your part to be in favor of that development, while being opposed to this one ...
    It's not at all inconsistent.

    The Madison Ave area is a Landmarked District -- for obvious reasons that I won't lay out here.

    The Con Ed site is not.

    Any battle to get this tower built on that site should start with striking down Landmarking regulations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by londonlawyer View Post
    There's nothing inconsistent about my statements. I like tall modern buildings in certain areas. I would be against this building on any site from
    65th and 96 streets from 5th to Lex. I would be against it on CPW, in the West Village and in many other places. I'd love to see it in Midtown or downtown.
    Thanks for the clarification. Obviously, you're not someone who seems to appreciate site-specific designs. Anything modern belongs in a modern area; anything historic-looking belongs in a historic area. You know what that leads to, don't you? The Great Blight of Dullness.

    And for the record: the Con Ed site is not in Midtown. It's within the confines of Tudor City, which is a residential neighborhood of primarily older buildings. That distinction forms the basis of the NIMBY's arguments, namely: the designs are out of scale, and out of character, for the neighborhood.

  15. #60

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    Why doesn't Foster plop a 30 story glass tower in the middle of Whitehall? (Perhaps because it would ruin the area.)


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