Glenwood’s UES condos elegant enough: Architecture review

By James Gardner | October 04, 2013 01:15PM

It is a relatively rare event for a new structure to rise on the Upper East Side west of Lexington Avenue, so attention must be paid to Sixty East Eighty Sixth, the official name of a building slated to rise a few steps east of Madison Avenue.

Developed by brothers Howard and Steven Swarzman, the newest generation of the Glenwood Management family, the new building will rise over the ghosts of a townhouse and a smallish four-story walk-up. Sixty East Eighty-Sixth will be a 19-story mid-block condominium tower comprising 15 units, of which twelve will be full-floor apartments, with two duplexes and one triplex, ranging in price from $7 million to $20 million.

The building is designed by the Stephen B. Jacobs Group in collaboration with the Danish architect Thomas Juul-Hansen, who was reportedly trained in the studio of Richard Meier. Juul-Hansen is probably best known for one of his more recent projects, designing the interiors of Extell Development’s One57.

On the basis of the recently released renderings, the new building promises to be strictly rectilinear, with a setback starting at the 10th floor. It will be divided into three bays, of which the central one will be double the width of the lateral ones. Thomas Juul-Hansen, the lead designer on both the interiors and exterior of the building, with Stephen B. Jacobs collaborating, channels prewar effects with the emphatically mullioned casement windows set into a limestone surrounded grid. Some of the apartments in the upper level will also have Juliet balconies.

The result is elegant enough, even if the grid feels a little tired. And while the building’s setback disrupts the continuity of the two contiguous buildings, the slightly traditional style and materials accord with the mood of this part of Manhattan.

But whatever the ultimate consequence of Sixty East Eighty Sixth, the block will be improved by the appearance of a substantial structure, rather than the two low-lying ones that it will replace. And in passing we should applaud the Landmarks Preservation Commission for not standing in the way of the demolition of the existing townhouse — the sort of old but essentially undistinguished structure that the agency usually (and unnecessarily) sees fit to preserve.