400 Park Avenue South de Portzamparc’s best effort to date: architecture review

By James Gardner | November 26, 2013 05:20PM

A new building — and possibly a good one — is rising at 400 Park Avenue South, on the southwest corner of 28th Street. Only last week, it topped out at 40 stories.

Developed by Toll Brothers and Equity Residential, 400 Park Avenue South was designed by Christian de Portzamparc, and may well prove to be the best building in New York, perhaps even the best building anywhere, by this highly-regarded but inconsistent French architect.

As always, it is impossible to foretell the ultimate success of the structure, especially when it is as intricately deconstructivist as 400 Park Avenue South appears to be.

From the renderings, however, it recalls Portzamparc’s first building in the city, the LVMH Tower, on East 57th Street, which opened in 1999. Age has not been kind to that building, causing its complex involutions to seem even more plodding now than they did 15 years ago. No better, really, is One57, the two tone megalith that already towers over West 57th Street and that aspires to a vaguely Art Deco aesthetic. The newest building clearly returns to the aesthetic of the LVMH Tower, but is taller and more complex in a way that promises to hold greater interest: its splayed, fractured mass seems to be crashing down before our very eyes, at least, according to the rendering.

To some degree, 400 Park Avenue South recalls Cook + Fox’s excellent One Bryant Park, which was itself inspired by the LVMH Tower. If the tower proves to be as well made as that uptown building, it will enhance both the city and the architect’s reputation.

The top 18 floors of 400 Park Avenue South will contain 99 residences, ranging in size from one- to five-bedrooms, with interiors designed by Stephen Alton and prices ranging from $1 million to more than $10 million. The lower 22 floors will have 269 luxury rentals.

The first move-ins are scheduled to take place sometime in 2015.