The Real Deal New York

250 Bowery marries best of postmodernism and modernist tradition

By James Gardner | May 04, 2012 05:30PM

In the ceaseless destruction and creation of New York City’s building stock, many neighborhoods must be protected and cherished from rash and unthinking developers. One such neighborhood is decidedly not the Bowery. Any alteration to this unlovely stretch of the Lower East Side will only improve the place and cannot come quickly enough. It is with no small satisfaction, therefore, that I can report, after many delays, a foreclosure and a new developer, that 250 Bowery, near Stanton Street, is finally getting off the ground.

This is one of those new structures that have arisen within the charmed orbit of the New Museum, which has established the area as an outpost of fashion and art. Accordingly, the site of 250 Bowery was originally intended as a boutique hotel. But after being foreclosed on, it was picked up by Zach Vella and Justin Ehrlich of VE Equities, who decided to create luxury condominiums instead. The website says that the building, on which construction began late last year, will contain 20 one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, starting at $700,000, as well as three-bedroom and five-bedroom duplex penthouses, with double-height ceilings, starting at $2.7 million.

The building has been designed by two capable Italian-educated architects, Morris Adjmi and Aldo Andreoli, who have only recently formed a partnership, that exemplifies the reformed modernism that is now in favor, but retains something of the postmodern sensibilities in which the architects were raised.

According to the frame of the building as it now exists, as well as the most recent rendering on the development’s website, the building looks at first like a prim but eloquent modernist grid, whose modules are stacked eight units tall by six wide and contain, within their mullioned windows, smaller grids of three units by three.

But when you see it in the context of the pair’s earlier works, especially Adjmi’s so-called High Line Building at 450 West 14th Street, or his Theory Building in the Meatpacking District, or his collaboration with Rossi on the Scholastic Building in Soho, you begin to appreciate the subtle contextualism of their art. They merge the best of classical postmodernism with the best of the modernist tradition in a way that recalls the cast iron tradition of this part of the city.

One can only hope that, when 250 Bowery is complete, as it is scheduled to be by the end of this year, it will expedite the arrival of other, equally ambitious developments in its wake.

  • howaboutFU

    If a Box to you is great Moderist Tradition I have so cheap wine to sell you? First of all that side of the Bowery is Little Italy district the other side is the Lower East Side is that clear. This building is not finished after close to 5 years construction of shoddy non union construction and many complaints about work practices. If put up by union workers it could have been done in 6 months which begs the question; “What did you save by paying undocumented works 5 dollars an hour?
    Buildings like this belong in hell.