While tall glass towers seem to be all the rage these days, there’s still a set of New Yorkers who are drawn to stately pre-war buildings with beautiful decorative exteriors and charming historic details.
Despite their curb appeal, though, many buyers on the hunt for these architectural gems are also weary of the challenges that come with owning a piece of history (wear and tear, outdated systems, no amenities, etc.). Thankfully, developers are opting to step in and transform stunning landmark structures, restoring them to their former glory while at the same time re-inventing them so that they contain every modern-day convenience. It is 21st century living at its finest, but with all the charm and history New York City was originally known for.
Below are some examples of luxury residential buildings that have taken a modern approach to traditional New York architecture, combining pre-war design with that latest cutting-edge amenities, services and finishes.
88&90 Lexington is an architectural anomaly that celebrates the marriage of old and new by merging a classic pre-war with a modern post-war building in the heart of NoMad, one of Manhattan’s most exciting neighborhoods. Developed by HFZ Capital and reimagined by Workshop/APD, 88&90 Lex combines two architectural styles and eras into one seamless building, offering a unique residential experience unlikely to be duplicated. Built in 1927, 88 Lexington features graciously scaled living areas, high ceilings and gallery-inspired art walls, while 90 Lexington, which was built in 1958, received a “facelift,” replacing the original exterior with sand-colored stone with sharp, clean lines that accentuates the oversized windows.
Nestled in the heart of sought-after Brooklyn Heights is luxury condominium The Standish, a storied pre-war building. The iconic Beaux Arts-hotel-turned-luxury rental was originally constructed in 1903 and is now being reimagined into an anticipated 29 expansive residences by DDG and Westbrook Partners. Standing 12 stories in height, the building is being reimagined by DDG’s in-house design team, which has taken care to embrace the landmarked neighborhood’s history as well as preserve the building for the future, while adapting the interiors for a more modern style of living. The team’s design strategy has been that of the reveal, with the intent being to unearth the incredible history and craftsmanship associated with the original structure. Case in point, The Standish’s striking facade consists of historic brick, bay windows, terra-cotta lintels and a limestone base. The DDG design team meticulously repaired the brick used throughout the exterior as well as applied a breathable coating to enable it to age appropriately. Additionally, the limestone from the front of the building was stripped in order to expose the natural historical element. To carry out these tasks DDG not only conducted an extensive survey of the precedents to the Beaux Arts style of The Standish, but also worked with preservation consultants to identify the most appropriate finishes and preservation coatings.
When renovating the building’s interior, DDG’s design team made sure to take cues from the existing interiors as well as celebrate various elements of the existing structure – for example it worked to expose cast iron columns and decorative fireplaces, and re-install small windows that revealed former layouts. Overall DDG was heavily influenced by the original building and era in which it was created. The ultimate goal throughout the design and renovation process has been to celebrate this rich history. Its anticipated 29 residences feature Austrian white oak flooring and custom-designed solid wood entry and interior doors. Kitchens are fully outfitted with Bertazzoni-Italia and Bosch appliances and Italian Carrara marble slab countertops, while the master bath includes silver travertine slabs and mosaic accented walls and flooring, as well as a custom freestanding tub and Fantini rain shower.
101 West 78th Street
101 West 78th Street is a distinctive, late 19th Century residence originally designed by Belgian born Emile Gruwe. The turn-of-the-century building, which was completed in 1886, has been meticulously transformed by “AD 100” designer Stephen Sills into a luxurious and timeless contemporary haven with grand and elegant residences for 21st century living. Sills — known for the St. Regis Hotel, private residences at the Apthorp and Baccarat, and his own estate, which Karl Lagerfeld said is “the chicest home in America” — has completely reimagined the building for modern living. These residences are sprawling, with grand living rooms, marble kitchens, and separate dining rooms and foyers, and charming details like moldings, solid oak herringbone floors, wallpapered powder rooms, and elegant master bathrooms with milky blue lacquer vanities. The kitchens are Smallbone of Devizes and feature SubZero and Miele appliances. Sills also designed the lobby, which features striking floors inspired by those found in the Hotel Lutetia in Paris. In addition, the building offers all the amenities that contemporary buyers expect, such as a children’s playroom, a fitness center and a concierge.
350 West 71st Street
Nestled on a cul-de-sac in the desirable West 71st Street Historic District, 350 West 71st Street provides a rare opportunity to purchase a brand new home with elegant contemporary interiors on a classic townhouse block in the Upper West Side. DNA Development is seamlessly combining two historic Upper West Side buildings to create a new boutique condominium building with 38 modern residences – ranging from two- to four-bedrooms, seven of which feature outdoor space – and luxury amenities all offered at competitive pricing. DXA Studio, the architect on the project, has completely reimagined the interiors while still preserving the buildings’ historic façades. Amenities include a 24-hour attended lobby, landscaped rooftop terrace with entertaining space and gas grill, a library, children’s playroom, fitness center and bike storage. Pricing begins at $1.725M.