By Carter B. Horsley
Bay windows are fairly rare in New York apartment
buildings, especially on Fifth Avenue and the best, at least in
terms of breadth, are to be found in this 1958 building.
Two very broad bays run the full height of
the building’s avenue frontage with dark gray metal spandrels
in stark contrast to the building’s white-brick facade. The
aluminum mullions of the bays give this facade a strong vertical
emphasis, although the overall effect is a bit awkward. The rather
flat curves of the bays are modest and soft and not very dramatic,
although they afford spectacular vistas from the interior. One
wonders why their facade treatment was not applied to the entire
building. The answer is probably that the resulting design would
have been considered too modern an intrusion on the avenue at
the time. If it had the effect might have appeared as a miniature
Union Carbide tower with ripples. (The former Union Carbide Building,
erected around the same time, was designed by Skidmore, Owings
& Merrill and is on Park Avenue at 47th Street.) The dark
gray spandrels beneath the bay windows are a little drab and hopefully
might be replaced by new panels, perhaps darker and polished,
at some future date.
The building’s facade on 71st Street is
asymmetric, reflecting the interior layouts with large picture
windows at the east and smaller windows near the avenue. The building
has a few terraces, some of which are curved, and a very large
The views on the sidestreet are superb since
the building is across the street from the low-rise building of
The Frick Collection that occupies the entire blockfront on the
avenue between 71st and 70th Streets.
The 20-story cooperative building, which was
designed by Sylvan and Robert Bien, has 50 units and central air-conditioning.
Most apartments range in size from six to nine rooms. The sidestreet
contains many major mansions although this building replaced the
1926 townhouse of Mrs. Hamilton McK. Twombly that had been designed
by Warren & Wetmore and another designed by Horace Trumbauer
on Fifth Avenue for Mrs. Elinor Widener. The character of the
sidestreet had been altered by the demolition of the H. A. C.
Taylor home designed by McKim, Mead & White for the 1946 apartment
building designed by Emery Roth & Sons at 3 East 71st Street.
900 Fifth Avenue’s location is supreme
as it is wedged between the glorious Frick Collection to the south
and J. E. R. Carpenter’s fine Italian-Renaissance-palazzo-style
apartment building of 1916 at 907 Fifth Avenue just to the north.
One block south of a major entrance to Central Park and cross-town
bus service on 72nd Street, the building is in a quiet location
yet close to many of the famous boutiques of Madison Avenue. The
building has a one-story polished gray granite base, a large canopy,
a doorman, a concierge and sidewalk landscaping. It also has a
gym and a garage and in 2008 it replaced its white-brick facade.
It is not close to subways but there is excellent bus service.