The Real Deal New York

Costas Kondylis

By Lauren Elkies | March 02, 2007 11:16AM

Senior partner of Costas Kondylis and Partners, and one of the city’s most prolific architects.

What is your name?
Constantine Andrew Kondylis.

When is your birthday?
April 17, 1940. I’m an Aries.

Where do you live?
I live on 81st Street and Lexington Avenue. My apartment is my sanctuary, my shelter. I don’t use my house as a place to impress people with my architectural skills.

Do you have a country house?
I bought a potato barn in Southampton. It’s like a loft — a huge Soho loft inside a barn. I exhibit my sports cars in my living room.

Is that home more about showing off your architectural skills?
Yes.

How often do you go out there?
I try to go out most weekends.

What are your passions?
I’m passionate about architecture and another passion of mine is automotive design. When I was small, I thought I would become an automotive designer.

Why didn’t you go in that direction with your career?
Back then there were no schools for the study of automotive design.

Where are you from?
I tell people I’m an island boy — Manhattan, Long Island and Samos [a Greek island] — the three islands.

Do you have family in Greece?
I have family in Greece, friends in Paris, and very good friends in Geneva. One of my hobbies is sports cars — racing cars — so I keep a Ferrari at a dealer in Geneva. When I fly to Europe for vacation, I pick up my car and go to Southern France or to Italy, Tuscany or Venice. I love traveling by car in Europe.

Do you have a girlfriend?
Yes.

How long have you and your girlfriend been together?
Six months.

How old is she?
37.

Were you ever married?
My wife died of breast cancer about 11 years ago. We lived together for 17 years. I sit on the board of directors of a cancer research foundation called the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. I do that in memory of my late wife.

You design a lot of buildings for Donald Trump. Some critics have said your work is formulaic. Do you agree?I think every project is designed to stand on its own merits in its own context. There’s never been a formula to apply in development. People buy real estate with the idea of an investment. I wanted to prove you could marry commerce and art.

What advice would you give someone starting out as an architect?
Persevere and go into the business if you are passionate about the business. If your purpose is to make a lot of money, don’t become an architect.

How much money do you have on you?
$100. I typically have $200 to $300 in petty cash.

What was your first job?
My first job was when I was at the University of Geneva School of Architecture. I got a summer job as an architectural draftsman at aSwiss firm.

What do you read every day?
I read the New York Times, automotive magazines and the [International] Herald Tribune, because it has more news on what’s happening in Europe. It’s the paper I read when I’m on vacation in Europe. When I read it, I feel like I’m in Europe.

What’s your greatest vice?
Staying up late at night. I feel like I’m wasting time going to bed.

What is the last movie you saw?
I saw the new James Bond movie [“Casino Royale”].

What would you want people to say about you after you die?
He was a great pragmatic architect.

Interview by Lauren Elkies

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