Norman Foster’s latest: The art of concealment on Lex?

TRD’s architecture critic reviews RFR’s 100 East 53rd Street

New York /
Feb.February 20, 2015 02:10 PM

No developer who truly respected architecture would release a rendering like the one for One Hundred East Fifty Third Street that Aby Rosen has chosen to share with the world. By only offering us this restricted and partial view for now, he seems like someone with something to hide. Is he withholding the full view because he thinks it is so good? Possibly, but not likely.

This latest project is the work of Lord Norman Foster, who has been quite active in New York City in recent years and whose design ranges from masterful to mediocre to just plain dull. His best work is in London: the Great Court at the British Museum is a miracle of modern design, while his iconic Gherkin Building and London City Hall are brilliant in overall conception, even if their actually fabrication feels a little skimpy.

In New York, he is more apt to range from mediocre to dull, from the respectable Hearst Tower and The Upcoming 425 Park Avenue and 2 World Trade Center (if it ever is built), to the humdrum eight-story Sperone Westwater Gallery on the Bowery and the even-more-blah 551 West 21st Street.

His latest project, formerly known as 610 Lexington Avenue, looks likely to err on the side of corporate respectability, like the Hearst Tower. With 94 condo units, it appears from the rendering to consist of a sequence of bays running up the length of the building. These are divided up into triangulated modules separated from one another by a white trim and are, on the basis of the rendering, the best part of the design. Its eventual success will lie, of course, in the execution — even the best design can be vitiated by value engineering.

Taken together, however, the modules constitute a curtain wall of sorts, but because they project from the surface at an angle, each window has a view in two directions simultaneously. Beyond that variant on the classic curtain wall—which may have interesting implications as real estate and as inhabitable space in a city where flat facades favor only a unidirectional view—the design looks good enough, but it hardly promises to be as remarkable as Lord Foster’s best British work. As to the ultimate success of the design, we may not know until it is approaching completion, and by then it may be too late.


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Aby Rosen and 60 East 55th Street. (Getty, Google Maps)
Special servicer calls for Aby Rosen’s home of Core Club to be sold at auction
Special servicer calls for Aby Rosen’s home of Core Club to be sold at auction
Aby Rosen and 522 Fifth Avenue (Getty, Google Maps)
RFR pitches Fifth Avenue office building as “build-to-suit” corporate HQ
RFR pitches Fifth Avenue office building as “build-to-suit” corporate HQ
From left: RFR’s Aby Rosen, Vanke US managing director Kai-yan Lee and 100 East 53rd Street (Photos via Tdorante10/Wikipedia and Getty)
Chinese bank seeks foreclosure of RFR and Vanke’s Midtown condo project
Chinese bank seeks foreclosure of RFR and Vanke’s Midtown condo project
Aby Rosen and the Gramercy Hotel (Getty, Google Maps)
Solil Management sues to end RFR’s Gramercy Park Hotel lease
Solil Management sues to end RFR’s Gramercy Park Hotel lease
From left: Vanke US managing director Kai-yan Lee, 100 East 53rd Street and RFR’s Aby Rosen (Photos via Foster + Partners and Getty)
Vanke files $680K suit in condo dispute with RFR
Vanke files $680K suit in condo dispute with RFR
The Gramercy Park Hotel at  2 Lexington Avenue and Aby Rosen of RFR Holding (Getty; Google Maps)
Aby Rosen’s Gramercy Park Hotel faces eviction
Aby Rosen’s Gramercy Park Hotel faces eviction
RFR Holding's Aby Rosen with the Seagram Building and the Chrysler Building (Photos via Getty; iStock)
Aby Rosen says firms have been too “nice-nice” with employees
Aby Rosen says firms have been too “nice-nice” with employees
Vanke US managing director Kai-yan Lee, RFR’s Aby Rosen and 100 East 53rd Street (Photos via Foster + Partners and Getty)
Vanke seeks to remove RFR from Midtown condo project
Vanke seeks to remove RFR from Midtown condo project
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...