This modest brown- and red-brick
building has one of the most graceful and unusual cornices in
Cornices are protruding
rooftop elements that cap a building's facade composition.
They are horizontal exclamation
marks that separate a building from the sky from a pedestrian's
viewpoint. They are the pronounced precipices that are very important
accents, especially in an urban setting where most buildings are
built to uniform street walls and are often seen from severe angles
rather than directly.
Although many fine cornices
in the city are very detailed, often in Italian Renaissance-style,
they generally are straight-edged, even though some have curved
facades beneath them and some have scalloped forms.
Here, the architects, Schwartz
& Gross, have created a gently undulating roofline of great
"This 16-story apartment
house is crowned with terra-cotta reminiscences of Egyptian-styled
papyrus stalks (don't confuse this with the 19th Century Egyptian
Revival Style, of which very few examples remain in the city),"
wrote Elliot Willensky and Norval White in their fine book, "The
A.I.A. Guide to New York City, Third Edition," (Harcourt
Brace Jovanovich, 1988).
The combination of the facade's
rich, dark color and the rather delicate detailing of the cornice
is surprising and spectacular. The most famous Egyptian-style
building in the city was the Tombs, a jail and court building,
now demolished, in Lower Manhattan. Of existing buildings, the
Pythian condominium building on 70th Street east of Broadway is
full of Egyptian-style elements in a quite bold, even gaudy, manner.
Here, however, the motif is quite muted and one wonders what would
be the visual effect if the cornice "papyrus" were covered
in green glazed terracotta.
This building, which has
protruding air-conditioners and inconsistent fenestration, has
two small curved balconies above its canopied and landscaped entrance.
"The tapestry brick enriches the viewer's experience close
to eye level," authors Willensky and White noted. The two-story
white stone entrance surround is a bit puzzling since it does
not pick up the wavy papyrus motif of the rest of the building.
.The building was erected
by Edgar Levy in 1929 and converted to a cooperative in 1971.
It has 103 apartments.
Schwartz & Gross was
one of the city's most active architectural firms specializing
in apartment buildings before World War II. The firm also designed
the Brentmore at 88 Central Park West and most of its designs
were more conventional, albeit attractive. It was particularly
active on Park Avenue where its buildings include 470, 525, 885,
888, 910, 911, 930, 941, 970, 983, 1045, 1070, 1095, 1125 and
This is one of several very
interesting buildings in a pleasant stretch of Central Park West
in the 90's. It is two blocks south of a subway station and cross-town
bus service at 96th Street.