Alchemy’s 35XV condos to provide “some real drama” in Flatiron: Architecture review

By James Gardner | June 03, 2013 12:00PM

A new condominium building at 35 West 15th Street is rising over the ghost of a former union hall. Preservationists fought, without success, against the destruction of this old but undistinguished pile that was endowed with a few modest frills from the beginning of the last century.

In its place one can already see the base of the new building, which will certainly be daring, even though its ultimate success cannot be fully known until the work is completed. The new 26-story building, developed by Alchemy Properties and designed by FX Fowle, will contain 55 units.

The building is a structural hybrid that recalls the Conde Nast and Reuters buildings at 4 Times Square and 3 Times Square, respectively, that Bruce Fowle designed with his former partner, Robert F. Fox, Jr.

Alchemy purchased the site for $16.6 million and bought air rights from Xavier High School, currently located nearby at 30 West 16th Street, for $13.7 million.

The new building will house an expanded version of this high school, up to the fifth floor, above which the residential condos will rise. The high school component, whose structure is largely complete, is a four square, quasi-Brutalist affair with soberly rectilinear windows. Earlier renderings had the windows skewed and deconstructed, but fortunately the designers were talked down from this notion, and order now prevails in its place.

The real drama begins above the fifth floor, where the condos are clad in a glass curtain-wall.

What is striking about the design is not so much the way in which, above the 10th floor, it recedes in a continuous ski-jump configuration, or the way in which a similar structure stands next to it like a modernist Mini-Me. Rather, it is the bold cantilevering of the back of the residential section, attached to the bulk of the structure with rather insufficient-looking metal supports, that promises to provide some real drama for the neighborhood. As it is, this expedient already affords the design a distinction that, in purely formal terms, it would probably lack.

It is scheduled for completion in 2014.

Correction: A previously published version of this article said the 35XV condos were scheduled to be completed in 2015. In fact, the scheduled completion date is in 2014.