handsome, 9-story apartment building at 452 Riverside Drive
is known as Mira Mar and was erected in 1910.
It has 54 rental apartments.
designed by Gaetan Ajello and is a bit south of Grant's
Tomb on Riverside Drive
and is very convenient to Columbia University and Barnard College.
June 11, 2006 "Streetscapes" column in The New York Times, Christopher
wrote that "You can find his name carved in cornerstones all over the
Side, where he built dozens of distinctive apartment buildings."
first major commissions, in 1909 and 1910, were
four buildings for Bernard Crystal, a developer, all in the early
Renaissance style, and all north of 116th Street: 452 Riverside Drive
Mar); 25 Claremont Avenue (the Peter Minuit); and 29-35 Claremont
Hall and the adjoining Rugby Hall). Featuring richly worked white and
marble, terra cotta and glazed brick, these early works shimmer like
quarries in the Mediterranean sun, quite different from the red and
typical of the time.
he connected with two influential clients,
the Paterno and Campagna families. Among the most active apartment
in New York,
they ultimately built more than 100 buildings, most of them 12- to
apartment houses. Perhaps the voluptuous modeling of Mr. Crystal's
had not sold well, because for these new clients Mr. Ajello developed a
subdued idiom, with simpler neo-Classical overtones in a softer white,
sometimes a light gray.
commissions for the Paternos are particularly
memorable: In 1911 and 1912 he built the Luxor, the Regnor and the
three corners on the west side of Broadway, at 115th and 116th Streets,
from 1912 to 1917, he built 885, 895 and 905 West End Avenue, at the
103rd and 104th Streets.
same and other clients Mr. Ajello designed a
dozen or so other buildings in the same style, all but one on the West
Side. A typical commission, built in 1915, was 575 West End Avenue,
at 88th Street.
this period Mr. Ajello developed a thoughtful
formula for urban living. His entrances are usually framed by large
pilasters or a similar feature, often with an escutcheon bearing the
of the owner. In the lobby, he also tried to shield the elevators from
view, presenting instead a staircase with curved balustrade,
reminiscent of a
has no street breaks for a few blocks north of 116th Street and this
building would be
about where 118th Street
might have been.
building is convenient to public transportation.
jewel designed by Gaetan Ajello in the very
handsome stretch of Riverside Drive between 115th Street and the
fine book on "Morningside Heights,"
architectural historian Andrew S. Dolkart described the white
of 452 Riverside Drive
as "flamboyantly vulgar," a surprisingly harsh judgment.
building has a deep, center lightwell facing Riverside Drive
with a two-story rusticated base with arched windows on the first floor
ornate Juliet balconies on the second floor.
bandcourses above the second and eighth floors,
more Juliet balconies on the fifth floor and highly decorative
balconies on the
sixth and eighth floors.
building has a dentilated cornice with a scalloped
southern half of the building's front has sidewalk
building permits dogs on a case-by-case basis, but no
The building originally had only about two apartments on each floor, one 9-room and one 10 room.