KPF plays it straight at 500 West 21st: Architecture review

Paul Katz’s design a model of geometric rigor

TRD New York /
Apr.April 14, 2014 01:00 PM

The architectural firm of Kohn Pedersen Fox recently announced the completion of the main foundation work for 500 West 21st Street, which will soon begin to rise over the High Line Park. This newest building is being developed by Sherwood Equities and will contain 32 units, ranging from one to four bedroom condominiums.

The design of the façade is the work of Paul Katz, one of the principle architects at KPF. Like most of the works in New York by this firm, 500 West 21st promises to be rigorously geometric.

Certainly, a rendering of the design bears this out. Seen From Across 10th Avenue, the building’s eight-story structure, with elegantly mullioned windows, is divided into four levels by a pale limestone trim, three windows wide and three stories tall in the second and third levels.

Given that the first and fourth levels are only one story each, one suspects a trace of mannerism in the way in which the bottom level appears to be crushed beneath the weight of the higher levels. At the same time, the top level, lacking the limestone accents on the roof, appears to dissipate into thin air.

At the sides, the top level terminates in slightly rounded pavilions — the only rounded elements of the design — that read almost like an homage to the New York projects of the late Charles Gwathmey.

The main structure can be read as being six bays wide, while a smaller, four-story structure to the south, Roofed With A Garden Terrace, seems conceptually detached from the main structure.

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