Although this prominent
behemoth incurred the wrath of many Upper East Siders for its
great height and windy plaza, it is one of the city's finest post-War
II high-rise apartment towers.
While its soaring height
looms over Madison Avenue, the tower itself is setback both from
the avenue and the sidestreets. The surrounding plazas, all paved
in large bricks similar to those on the tower, permitted the tower
to rise as tall as it did under the then applicable zoning.
The tower's main redeeming
feature is, in fact, its brickwork, a very large, reddish brown
"iron-spot" brick whose warm color harmonizes well with
its surroundings. The design, by Thomas Lehrecke of Oppenheimer,
Brady & Lehrecke, and Philip Birnbaum, is distinguished by
its full-walled balconies and the modulation of its facades. This
is the finest project of the developer, Rose Associates.
The tower's plazas, which
have pyramidal planters, often suffer from windy gusts as a result
of the tower's exposed height.
This sentinel, which has
a large driveway on Madison Avenue, was an important pioneer in
new development north of 86th Street at the time and was important
in upgrading its Carnegie Hill neighborhood by giving it a highly
visible new landmark.
While it can be argued that
it broke the scale of the area, so did the Carlyle Hotel and the
great multi-towered apartment buildings of Central Park West.
In fact, this tower helped mitigate the terrible aesthetic damage
inflicted on the Upper East Side by the giant Mt. Sinai Hospital
tower, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill about a dozen
blocks to the north. While the tower is not a masterpiece, it
is not bland but very rigorous in its massing.
The building has a rooftop
health club and a garage, and the 248 cooperative apartments,
all two- and three-bedroom units, have 9-foot-high ceilings, which
was higher than the standard then current.
A standout, yes, but a handsome
one. One critic has likened, in a derogatory fashion, its street-level
appearance to a fortress, yet the analogy is not entirely inappropriate
as a few blocks to the north on the avenue stands the ruins of
the Squadron A Armory, a similarly colored battlement.
This building is just to
the west of the very handsome Roman Catholic Church of St. Thomas
More at 59-63 East 89th Street that dates to 1870 and was designed
by Hubert & Pirsson. That church is across 89th Street from
another major apartment tower at 50 East 89th Street, a dark brown-brick,
mid-block building designed by Emery Roth & Sons that has
several maisonettes and a large plaza on East 88th Street that
abuts the walled garden of 1088 Park Avenue.