By Carter B. Horsley
"Of the avenue's postwar buildings, only
733 Park Avenue
presumed to vie with the great luxury houses
of earlier decades in the size of its apartments," noted
James Trager in his excellent 1990 book, "Park Avenue, Street
of Dreams" (Atheneum).
The 30-story tower was completed in 1971 on
the site of a former English-Regency-style mansion of Elihu Root
that had been built in 1905 and designed by Carrère &
Hastings. The 30-room mansion had been put up for sale by Mrs.
Carll Tucker who had lived in it since 1915 and the city's Landmarks
Preservation Commission had tried, without success, to save it.
The dark brown brick building contains only
28 condominium apartments, served by one passenger elevator, and
is set in its own small landscaped plaza.
The building was designed by Kahn & Jacobs
and Harry F. Green for Stephen Muss.
The apartment layouts are impressive and grand,
although the 8-foot-11-inch-ceiling heights were a bit above average,
but not extraordinary. Most apartments have nine-and-a-half rooms.
The lobby is appropriately and elegantly awash with travertine.
The building's plaza ruptured the avenue's
solid wall of buildings, but no more so than the setback building
of Hunter College, or the Seventh Regiment Armory, both a few
It caused more harm, however, to the avenue's
line of cornices from which it bursts forth quite prominently,
affording its residents, of course, spectacular vistas. A couple
of older buildings had exceeded the average building height of
about 15 stories by a few floors, but 733 and another tower at
79th Street, 900 Park Avenue, soared above the rest. Both of these
buildings, of course, have their sheer towers set back a bit from
the avenue so that their impact on the avenue's famous vistas
was not too severe. Nonetheless, many architecture critics and
planners correctly decried these breaches in the cornice line
as disruptive of the avenue's celebrated continuity.
It should be noted, however, that its immediate
neighbor to the south on the same block is the polished red granite
Asia Society, designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, which only has
7 floors, and the two complement one another to a certain extent
and therefore mitigate a bit their break with traditional building
size on the avenue. On the other hand, it also has the merit of
obscuring much of the view of the Viscaya, a "sliver"
apartment tower that went up a few years later just to the east
of it on 71st Street.
While the minimalist facades leave much to
be desired, this building's great location and the exclusivity
of large, full-floor apartments make it a choice residence.