Sticking to the script in Kips Bay building: architecture review

Design for 237 East 34th Street is indisputably graceful but no radical departure

TRD New York /
Jul.July 25, 2014 12:48 PM

Renderings were recently published for 237 East 34th Street, a new residential development in the weary, dreary heart of the Kips Bay and Murray Hill sections of Manhattan. This neighborhood has had little distinguished building stock to date and has benefitted all too little from the surge in construction that nearly every other part of the city has seen in recent years. But these renderings look promising enough to inspire hope that things might actually be getting better on the Far East Side.

The new building, designed by C3D Architecture, will rise over a site acquired from Yeshiva University in 2012 for $15.5 million. Originally, the plan was to house a dormitory on the plot, replacing the undistinguished Yeshiva lecture hall that stands there now. Indeed, the building’s small, hard windows punctuate the brick façade in a way that recalls some of the older jails on Rikers Island.

The developer of 237 East 34th is Alex Forkosh. The new structure will rise 23 stories and 210 feet, with 6,282 square feet of street-level retail. The residential portion of the building, at 84,256 square feet, which contain 108 units, is slated for completion in 2016.

C3D Architecture, whose projects include The Gotham Hotel on East 46th Street, as well as 949 Park Avenue, has long cultivated a gentler form of the deconstructivist style, whose syncopations and asymmetries seem ultimately to reaffirm, rather than to challenge, the standard modernist grid into which they are set.

This appears to be the case at 237 East 34th Street. Within the context of a modular, curtain-walled tower, the architects introduce, starting at the sixth floor, balconies along the western edge of the building, which shift to a diagonal configuration toward the top, where they are suddenly complemented by balconies to the east. Balconies also appear unexpectedly at the center of the structure, from the 6th to the 12th floors.

Though the design is hardly radical, and though this firm’s projects have suffered in the past from a suggestion of value engineering, there is reason to hope that this new project will add a touch of grace to an often overlooked part of the city.

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