How SLCE became Manhattan’s most prolific design shop

TRD ranks the top architecture firms for residential buildings over the last 5 years

SLCE buildings
From left: 520 Park Avenue on the Upper East, 250 East 57th Street in Midtown and the MoMA Tower at 53 West 53rd Street in Midtown

Robert A.M. Stern and Sir Norman Foster may get all the glory, but SLCE Architects gets all the business.

The firm, which is a major player in Robert A.M. Stern’s limestone 220 Central Park and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s Sleek 252 East 57th Street, has been the most prolific design shop for residential buildings in Manhattan over the past five years, according to a review of Department of Buildings data by The Real Deal.

Looking back at new-building plans filed with the department from November 2010, TRD calculated SLCE (pronounced “slice”) to be either the design architect or the architect of record behind more than 6,500 units of housing in the borough.

(Click on each architecture firm to see a complete profile page on TRData.)

Manhattan’s Top Residential Architects

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Jim Davidson, a design partner at the company, said that about 30 percent of the work SLCE does is through a joint venture where the company works behind the scenes to bring another architect’s vision to reality.

“Where you have a unique property a developer may select an internationally known designer to add a certain cache from the point of view of sales, or to help a traditional neighborhood get the cache it deserves,” Davidson said on a phone call from London, where the company is opening its first international office. “It’s a niche we’re happy to fill.”

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Some of SLCE’s large projects include 401 West 31st Street, the 790-unit residential tower at Brookfield Property Group’s Manhattan West, and the Gotham Organization’s 698-unit 550 West 45th Street.

The company also worked behind the scenes on TF Cornerstone’s 1,028-unit 606 West 57th Street, which is slated to be Manhattan’s second-largest residential building when it’s complete in 2017.

The Miami-based Arquitectonica is responsible for the building’s aesthetics, which will bring another example of high design to the Far West Side right across the street from Bjarke Ingels’s pyramid building.

The firm’s collaboration is one of two new buildings with more than 1,000 units.

The other, Moinain’s Sky rental tower at 605 West 42nd Street, was designed by Goldstein, Hill & West, which ranks second on TRD’s ranking of the busiest design shops in Manhattan’s resi market. SLCE is also listed as the architect of record for 400 West 61st Street at Extell Development’s Riverside Center, where designs by Arquitectonica and Kohn Pedersen Fox have been batted around.

Other firms that round out the top 10 include local firms such as Handel Architects and the Stephen B. Jacobs Group, as well as international firms Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Kohn Pedersen Fox.