By Carter B. Horsley
This large, mid-block, rental apartment house
has magnificent views and a superb location just to the south
of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and close to a major entrance
to Central Park.
Built in 1968, this 26-story, yellow-brick
tower has only 46 apartments.
It was erected by Bernard Spitzer in 1968 and
designed by the Office of Michael Schimenti. Ten years later,
Mr. Spitzer also developed another high-rise apartment tower on
the avenue, No. 800, on the northeast corner at 61st Street. His
other major projects include the Corinthian at 38th Street and
First Avenue and 200 Central Park South.
The tower is almost the same height as another
large high-rise apartment house at 980 Fifth Avenue at the northeast
corner of 79th Street that replaced an impressive townhouse owned
by the Brokaw family and fueled a controversy over the city’s
lack at the time of a landmarks preservation law (see The
City Review article).
The two towers are quite different architecturally
but because they are both set back in plazas and are of similar
height they are often "read" as one project. The corner
building, however, has a gray facade and no balconies while this
one has many balconies and its facade has a strong vertical emphasis
from its paired, yellow-brick piers.
This tower, which is one of the very few rental
residential properties on Fifth Avenue, hides its air-conditioners
behind attractive wire grills, a handsome solution that surprisingly,
and sadly, has not been employed more often.
While both towers were abrupt intrusions into
the stately and palatial elegance of this section of Fifth Avenue
they actually complement one another quite well and their separate
plazas read as one. There was, of course, no need for plazas facing
Central Park, but the city’s zoning has never been perfect.
Being setback mitigates somewhat the noise from the considerable
traffic at 79th Street, which is a major transverse road through
This building has a doorman and an elevator
person as well as a driveway. The sculpture in its plaza is by
Priscilla Kabel. Called "The Castle," it had, according
to Robert A. M. Stern, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman, the authors
of the great "New York 1960, "Architecture and Urbanism
Between the Second World War and the Bicentennial" (The Monacelli
Press, 1995), "far more architectural charm than the building
that constituted its backdrop."
The building has individual storage bins and
permits pets. In addition to being very close to the Metropolitan
Museum of Art, the building is convenient to many other cultural
institutions and fashionable boutiques.