It is interesting that a preliminary drawing for the Ardsley
showed that architect Emery Roth contemplated topping its watertank enclosure with a
lantern-like finial, somewhat similar to those atop the towers of the El Dorado,
one block to
the south, on which Roth was the architect along with Margon &
Holder. Roth also designed such famous Central Park West
buildings as the Beresford and the San Remo.
The built structure, however, does not need the finial tower
as the boxiness of the composition is very effective and the tower would have
distracted from its visual impact. The
striped masonry patterning on this building is striking and very strong. The
building's park frontage is almost symmetrical, but the strong accents of the
patterning are quite remarkable and original.
Elliot Willensky and Norval White remarked, in their book,
'The A. I. A. Guide to New York City,' (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988), that
"there is a quality almost like that of inlaid furniture in the ribbons of
contrasting brick which enrich the surfaces of the upper facades."
The Ardsley is one of Manhattan's most important Art Deco-style residential buildings.
"This 22-story structure is dramatically different from
every other Roth building that came before it, for there is no trace of
historical styling in its rectilinear lines.
The only precedent it recalls is the massing of a prehistoric Mayan
temple. The Ardsley is Central Park
West's most elaborately detailed Art Deco work.
Contrasting with its buff brick wall surfaces are vertical bands of black
brick that sweep up the facades, imparting an upward thrust to the
composition. These are balanced by
horizontal bands of black brick that relate the building to its
streetscape. Further, the horizontal and
vertical bands converge in the upper stories and in the tower to create bold
"Above the fifteenth floor, multiple setbacks and
cantilevered balconies culminate in the stepped-back water tower, resulting in
an animated yet balanced profile....Adding even more visual delight to this
composition is a zigzag cast-stone frieze, consisting of geometric patterns in
four-color inlay, is applied to the base.
The lower portion of the building is embellished further with
pink-tinted cast-stone door surrounds, executed in voluptuously curving
The building, which has 900 rooms and 198 apartments,
contains mostly small apartments except for duplex and triplex penthouses that
have terraces, 15-foot-high ceilings and circular staircases, as well as dens,
libraries, dressing rooms and servants' quarters, but Mr. Ruttenbaum noted that
"even though these were high-class amenities, the were not quite the same
as in Roth's earlier buildings. The
spaces were smaller, and the finishes were less elegant."
The building, now a cooperative, was completed in 1931 and
Roth was one of its developers.
"The main space now has as huge Art Deco chandelier and
murals digitally printed on canvas," the article continued.
"His biggest change was to the outer lobby — he calls
it the anteroom — where he commissioned a monumental desk in the same black
marble that Roth chose for the baseboards. He also filled a hole in the wall
where there had been an old intercom panel with a handsome new clock. (Although
it has Art Deco-style hands, it also has a high-tech movement that
automatically adjusts for daylight time.) And he lacquered the ceiling to make
it reflect people’s movements through the lobby.
Ms. Ollman is particularly pleased with one of Mr.
Salvator’s moves. "He installed a mirror," she joked, "that
makes everyone look 15 pounds lighter." Mr. Salvator said the mirror had
been "intentionally distorted, to look old and more period, and by
accident it makes people look thinner."