New York City is the most densely populated city in the United States, leading it to have a multitude of apartment complexes and condominiums to meet the needs of its citizens. Here are ten apartment buildings in New York that every architect should visit at least once in their lifetime.
Gainsborough Studio Apartments
Located in Central Park South, Manhattan, Gainsborough is a 16-story, 39-unit building designed by architect Charles Buckham and completed in 1908. It was originally built for artists and their studios, but the building was converted into a co-op for its tenants shortly after its completion. The building’s distinctive frontage, which has recently undergone extensive restoration, features a bust of the 18th-century painter Thomas Gainsborough, after whom Gainsborough Studios was named and dedicated. Isadore Konti created a one-of-a-kind frieze titled ‘a Festival Procession of the Arts.’ The upper façade features brightly coloured Edwardian tiles made from 18th-century pottery. The renowned northern light of the building has drawn artists such as Surrealist painter Enrico Donati to the building as well as many others throughout the years.
Westbeth Artist Housing
Located in West Village, Manhattan, Westebeth Artists Housing was founded in 1970 to provide affordable housing for artists and their families. Richard Meier designed the first adaptive reuse of its kind. Its mission is to serve as a resource of artistic inspiration for artists working in the literary, visual, and performing arts. Spaces within the complex are dedicated to the creation and presentation of art by resident and guest artists, as well as the arts organisations that are housed here. Westbeth is the former site of Bell Laboratories, which has a rich history, which visitors will learn about during the tour, as well as the critical role Westbeth housing plays for artists today and in the future.
Grand Mulberry Condominium
Located in Little Italy, Manhattan, Grand Mulberry draws inspiration from the rich heritage of historic Italianate tenements found throughout the neighbourhood. The contemporary condominium building’s custom-profiled brick creates a spectral reference to this heritage. While the façade pattern is traditional, the use of hand-moulded domed bricks is very modern—each brick was carefully positioned within the double-stacked running bond coursing to give the appearance of an Italianate façade. The red-orange colour scheme pays homage to the neighbourhood’s red brick buildings. The materials, forms, and patterns found in Little Italy’s historic residential buildings, such as black and white mosaic floors and brass detailing, are found throughout the interior. Aside from its residential programme, the building will house the Italian American Museum, which will occupy 6,000 square feet, including part of the ground floor and multiple basement floors.
Bernard M. Baruch Houses
Located in Lower East Side, Manhattan, Bernard M. Baruch Houses, which opened in 1959, is Manhattan’s largest New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) development. NYCHA tasked Nelligan White with assessing the development’s long-term resilience and implementing design solutions centred on flood prevention and energy resilience. Concerns about the development’s resistance to sea level rise and extreme weather arose following Hurricane Sandy which hit NYC in October 2012. The storm’s surge impacted 10% of NYCHA’s developments, knocking out power to more than 400 buildings, and destroying boilers, electrical equipment, massive trash compactors, and playgrounds. With extreme weather events becoming more likely in the coming decades as a result of climate change, Nelligan White assessed the magnitude and risk of flood damage and proposed an integrated scheme of preventative measures to mitigate the effects. The Baruch resilience plan has been adopted as a model for reimagining how NYCHA organises and maintains the building portfolio in flood-prone areas, demonstrating the firm’s comprehensive planning and design strategy.
Located in Brooklyn, Union Street Homes is the region’s first mass-timber condominium. The six-story, fourteen-unit structure is made up of glue-laminated timber columns, beams, and floorplates. Building with large components made of fast-growing standard lumber is a more sustainable option than steel or concrete because it sequesters carbon and softwood trees regenerate quickly. The sustainable mindset pervades the entire structure. Passive-house performance is achieved through extensive insulation, air sealing, triple-glazed windows, and energy-recovery ventilation. There is no combustion in the structure. High-efficiency heat pumps provide heating, and induction cooktops provide cooking.
Located in East New York, Brooklyn, Chestnut Commons is one of the first developments to emerge from the East New York Neighborhood Plan, providing affordable housing for formerly homeless and low-income households. Chestnut Commons, developed and operated by locally based organisations with strong community ties, will strengthen the neighbourhood by providing economic development and educational opportunities, arts programming, and job training services. The 14-story building is designed to Passive House standards and per NYC Active Design Guidelines to promote healthy living for residents, in keeping with the project vision of a healthy, sustainable, and affordable community.
Located in Hunts Point, Bronx, the Peninsula is a dramatic transformation of the former Spofford Juvenile Detention Facility into a vibrant, mixed-use campus and a light industrial building housing small start-up and growing manufacturing businesses, as well as a health and wellness centre, fresh food grocer, affordable housing for the Hunts Point neighbourhood and a live-work community for the South Bronx tech and creative sectors. The Peninsula plans were inspired by the ideas, concepts, needs, desires, and visions of the residents who live, work, and are impacted daily by what happens on the Hunts Point Peninsula.
Located in Jamaica, Queens, The Delson was the first NEA grant recipient for art inside an affordable housing building. The façade sets the tone with a 73′ high mural designed by AGA of hand-made clay tiles in colours reminiscent of a gemstone necklace. Murals and glassworks by Laini Nemett and Cora Glasser, as well as art throughout the building, create a healing oasis. Changes in ceiling heights, materials, and lighting make the 33 studio apartments feel more spacious. The Delson emphasises the dignity of its residents while demonstrating that affordable access to beauty can be achieved for any project, in any neighbourhood.
Located in Upper West Side, Manhattan, the Belnord is a historic apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side that was designed by Hiss & Weekes and designed in 1908. The Robert A.M.Stern Architects and Hollander teams recently completed a renovation of the 14-story limestone-and-brick Italian Renaissance Revival building on the east side of Broadway between West 86th and West 87th Streets, which includes one of the city’s largest private courtyards. In Hulu’s mystery-comedy series “Only Murders in the Building” the Belnord appears as the fictional Arconia.
West Side Housing
Located in Manhattan Valley, Manhattan, WSFSSH at West 108 opened in 2021 and now serves over 250 low-income seniors and families in Manhattan Valley. The building provides permanent supportive studios for formerly homeless people, affordable one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, and Valley Lodge, a transitional shelter that has served seniors in this neighbourhood since 1988. WSFSSH at West 108 also houses a federally qualified health centre, ambulances from the Central Park Medical Unit, and more! This structure was built with federal low-income housing tax credits and a variety of state and city affordable housing subsidy programmes.
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