News

Tasting the World of Upper Manhattan

The Real DealApril 19, 2012
Brickman and CORE Group host “Tasting the World of Upper Manhattan” tonight at the unveiling of One Museum Mile, the condominium at 1280 Fifth Avenue between 109th and 110th streets. Model residences will be displayed and exclusive menus will be offered by the Lexington Social, Ottomanelli’s, Ricardo Steak House and more. The event lasts from 6 until 8 p.m.

CORE Debuts ‘One Museum Mile’ with a Curated Taste of Upper Manhattan

April 19, 2012
Brokerage Celebrates Promising Sales Activity and Building’s Significant Place along New York’s Most Famous Mile

NEW YORK – April 19, 2012 – Last night, developer Brickman and CORE celebrated the official naming of One Museum Mile with a one-of-a-kind event: “Tasting the World of Upper Manhattan.” Curated in partnership with the neighborhood’s favorite eateries and museums, close to 200 guests toured One Museum Mile’s model residences and enjoyed the best of the area’s culinary and fine arts which showcased the rich culture of the surrounding neighborhood.

“We wanted to kick off the spring selling season with an event that highlights many of the elements that make this residential project extraordinary,” said Brickman’s principal, Bruce Brickman. “Specifically, we wanted to showcase the experience of living at One Museum Mile.”

Overlooking Central Park’s lushest landscapes, One Museum Mile is situated at the crown of Fifth Avenue on Museum Mile – the section of Fifth Avenue known for its legendary lineup of museums and cultural institutions. As the future home of the Museum for African Art, One Museum Mile is an iconic new focal point along this famed stretch of the City.

“One Museum Mile is one of the most exciting projects to come to market. It is truly special because of its Fifth Avenue address, direct views of Central Park, and some of the world’s finest museums right on its doorstep,” said Shaun Osher, co-founder and CEO of CORE, which is handling the sales and marketing for the project. “Sales traffic is strong, and we’re proud to report that we have sent out 9 contracts in just over a week.”

“Tasting the World of Upper Manhattan” brought together an all-star, local cast for an evening exhibiting the building’s finest model residences as well as the best of the neighborhood’s food, drinks and art. Guests sampled from exclusive menus provided by The Lexington Social, Ottomanelli’s, Ricardo Steak House, The 5 and Diamond Restaurant and Make My Cake, with live music by Nanny Assis and his Brazilian quartet. In addition, The Museum of the City of New York, El Museo del Barrio and The National Academy Museum provided guests with complementary museum passes and the Museum for African Art partnered with Brickman to offer the generous gift of a one-year membership to anyone who purchases a residence in One Museum Mile.

Designed by a renowned team including Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP, Andre Kikoski Architects and SLCE Architects, One Museum Mile is a 21-story, 116-unit condominium with high-end interiors featuring elegant white oak flooring; teak cabinetry; deep brown granite kitchen countertops; stainless steel appliances by Thermador, GE and Bosch; and polished Dolomitti marble bathroom countertops.

Residents will also enjoy a wide array of luxury amenities, such as the rooftop terrace that includes a pool and barbecue areas, plus an amenities floor that is dedicated to a private dining room with catering kitchen, lounge and card-and-game area. Other featured amenities are a fitness center with adjoining children’s play room, teen game room, cold storage, bicycle room, on-site garage, live-in super and a full-time doorman/concierge.

One Museum Mile offers studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom homes as well as penthouses ranging up to 2,118-square feet, which are available for immediate occupancy. (Larger homes are available by combining multiple apartments. Suggested floor plans available upon request). The building also offers residences with outdoor terrace space.

Home prices range from $595,000 for an 801-square foot studio to approximately $3.25 million. For more information, please contact the sales office at (212) 996-1280 or visit the website at www.onemuseummile.com .

ABOUT BRICKMAN

Brickman is a private equity real estate firm that invests in debt and equity with the perspective of an owner-operator. Brickman combines its owner-operator expertise with deep experience in debt to produce excellent risk-adjusted returns for its investors. Brickman was formed in 1992 and has over $700 million of equity assets and $3 billion of portfolio value under management. Brickman owns and operates office and multifamily properties in these markets, applies opportunistic and core plus / value-added investment strategies, and invests across the entire capital structure of real estate assets. Through its investment vehicles, the firm owns and manages over 3.5 million square feet of office, hotel and residential real estate.

ABOUT CORE

CORE is a real estate sales and marketing firm delivering the best in brokerage, communications and advisory services for the luxury residential segment. In addition, CORE’s elite group of highly experienced and successful professionals service developers who value efficient, no-nonsense results. CORE was founded by Shaun Osher as a full-service boutique firm with a strict adherence to the principles of integrity, efficiency and results. For more information visit www.corenyc.com.

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Brickman Debuts ‘One Museum Mile’ with a Curated Taste of Upper Manhattan

CityBiz ListApril 19, 2012
NEW YORK - Last night, developer Brickman and CORE celebrated the official naming of One Museum Mile with a one-of-a-kind event: "Tasting the World of Upper Manhattan." Curated in partnership with the neighborhood's favorite eateries and museums, more than 200 guests toured One Museum Mile's model residences and enjoyed the best of the area's culinary and fine arts which showcased the rich culture of the surrounding neighborhood.

"We wanted to kick off the spring selling season with an event that highlights many of the elements that make this residential project extraordinary," said Brickman's principal, Bruce Brickman. "Specifically, we wanted to showcase the experience of living at One Museum Mile."

Overlooking Central Park's lushest landscapes, One Museum Mile is situated at the crown of Fifth Avenue on Museum Mile - the section of Fifth Avenue known for its legendary lineup of museums and cultural institutions. As the future home of the Museum for African Art, One Museum Mile is an iconic new focal point along this famed stretch of the City.

"One Museum Mile is one of the most exciting projects to come to market. It is truly special because of its Fifth Avenue address, direct views of Central Park, and some of the world's finest museums right on its doorstep," said Shaun Osher, co-founder and CEO of CORE, which is handling the sales and marketing for the project. "Sales traffic is strong, and we're proud to report that we have sent out 9 contracts in just over a week."

"Tasting the World of Upper Manhattan" brought together an all-star, local cast for an evening exhibiting the building's finest model residences as well as the best of the neighborhood's food, drinks and art. Guests sampled from exclusive menus provided by The Lexington Social, Ottomanelli's, Ricardo Steak House, The 5 and Diamond Restaurant and Make My Cake, with live music by Nanny Assis and his Brazilian quartet. In addition, The Museum of the City of New York, El Museo del Barrio and The National Academy Museum provided guests with complementary museum passes and the Museum for African Art partnered with Brickman to offer the generous gift of a one-year membership to anyone who purchases a residence in One Museum Mile.

Designed by a renowned team including Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP, Andre Kikoski Architects and SLCE Architects, One Museum Mile is a 21-story, 116-unit condominium with high-end interiors featuring elegant white oak flooring; teak cabinetry; deep brown granite kitchen countertops; stainless steel appliances by Thermador, GE and Bosch; and polished Dolomitti marble bathroom countertops.

Residents will also enjoy a wide array of luxury amenities, such as the rooftop terrace that includes a pool and barbecue areas, plus an amenities floor that is dedicated to a private dining room with catering kitchen, lounge and card-and-game area. Other featured amenities are a fitness center with adjoining children's play room, teen game room, cold storage, bicycle room, on-site garage, live-in super and a full-time doorman/concierge.

One Museum Mile offers studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom homes as well as penthouses ranging up to 2,118-square feet, which are available for immediate occupancy. (Larger homes are available by combining multiple apartments. Suggested floor plans available upon request). The building also offers residences with outdoor terrace space.
Home prices range from $595,000 for an 801-square foot studio to approximately $3.25 million. For more information, please contact the sales office at (212) 996-1280 or visit the website at www.onemuseummile.com.

Dream Homes: 160 Central Park South

New York PostApril 19, 2012
Central Park South
$3.995 million

What a combination — two “gut-renovated” units in this “prestigious” apartment building (OK, fine, it’s the Jumeirah Essex House) form one “magnificent” home of 1,555 square feet, with two “generously” proportioned bedrooms and three bathrooms. The spread is “squarely positioned” over Central Park South, allowing “expansive views through the “oversized” windows. The combo also allowed for a “rare and gracious” foyer, as well as a double-door entry. The building offers amenities including a concierge, a health club and catering and limousine services. Agents: Tom Postilio and Mickey Conlon, Core, 212-726-0783 and 212-612-9623

New Listings: 200 East 16th Street

Brokers WeeklyApril 18, 2012
Gramercy Park
200 East 16th Street
$699,000

Corner one-bedroom co-op overlooking St. George's Church and Seminary. Hard-wood floors, open living room with dining area, windowed office alcove with built-in desk, shelves and closet. Kitchen has stainless steel countertops and appliances, including a dishwasher. Bedroom has two deep closets and the bathroom is newly renovated. Live-in super. Stuyvesant Park is right outside your door, and Union Square market, Whole Foods, and a variety of transportation lines are just a few blocks away. Pets allowed. Listing agent: Maggie Kent, CORE.

New Development Prices Rose, Inventory Dropped in March

CurbedApril 17, 2012
As we look at March in the rearview mirror, StreetEasy has compiled the month's new development market statistics for Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Let's begin with Manhattan. The median listing price rose 9.1 percent compared to the price six months ago and 12.4 percent year-over-year. Inventory, meanwhile, has declined by 8 percent since March 2011, and there's now only a 5.9-month supply of new development inventory, compared to 9.2 months at this time in 2011. The StreetEasy report also tracks the most popular buildings in each neighborhood, and this month, those included Manhattan House, The Cammeyer, The Laureate (the least shocking item on the list), One48, and Fifth on the Park.

StreetEasy's take on the Brooklyn market:

Brooklyn inventory has dropped 8 percent since March 2011, and contracts have increased 37 percent. Most popular building roll call: The Edge, 500 Fourth Avenue, BellTell Lofts, and 315 Gates.

Here are the StreetEasy numbers for Queens:

Determined to be different from Manhattan and Brooklyn, inventory in Queens has risen 35.5 percent since March 2011. The number of price increases has gone up, too, by 22.2 percent. A few of the winners of the Queens building popularity contest: Murano, The L Haus, 148-09 Northern Boulevard, and Sky View Parc.

On the Market in New York City: 200 E 16th St. #11A

The New York TimesApril 13, 2012

Bow tie: From Canal to Houston, the Lower Bowery Heats Up

New York PostApril 12, 2012
Not too long ago, Luke Armstrong noticed something new on the corner of the Bowery and Prince Street.

“I saw a Freitag shop,” says Armstrong, who has been living at Avalon Bowery, the massive rental complex on the Bowery just off Houston Street, for the past year. Freitag sells “these very interesting bags — but it surprised me, because they’re quite high-end, $300 bags.”

Though the Bowery has been no stranger to luxe development over the past several years — restaurateurs such as Daniel Boulud set up shop, CBGB gave way to John Varvatos and some apartments on the Bowery (at the old Bouwerie Lane Theatre) were priced at more than $2,500 per square foot — it’s mostly been confined to north of Houston Street.

South of Houston tended toward the Bowery of yore. Not that there were criminals and vagabonds lurking, exactly, but real estate got decidedly frumpier in the land of kitchen-supply and lighting-fixture stores.

Now, though, the high-end market is heading south.

Aside from pricey stores like Freitag, which opened last spring, as well as amenities like the New Museum and a Whole Foods, condos, hotels and restaurants have started making their appearance much more forcefully. And more are on their way — tying the north part of the Bowery to the south.

Take, for instance, 250 Bowery, between Houston and Prince. Twenty-four hours after the teaser Web site for the new condo building went live, it crashed — there was too much traffic.

The phones for the building’s brokers, John Gomes and Fredrik Eklund of Prudential Douglas Elliman, began ringing with eager buyers.

“I cannot tell you how many people have been soliciting the security guard” for details about the building, Gomes says.

“There’s been a huge waiting list,” says developer Zach Vella, whose VE Equities is responsible for 250 Bowery.

The building won’t be topped off for another month and a half. And even though prices haven’t been fixed yet (the Web site says prices should be between $700,000 and $2.7 million, but both Vella and Gomes insist that nothing is set until their offering plan is approved by the attorney general’s office), some have already declared their intention to buy.

“I’m very interested in purchasing in 250 Bowery,” says Oren Alexander, himself a broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman. “It matches my lifestyle very well.”

According to Vella, the building will consist of 20 one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as four penthouse duplexes consisting of three or four bedrooms each.

The appeal is not necessarily the Bowery itself, but “it’s more about the popularity of the bordering neighborhoods — Nolita, the East Village, the Lower East Side and Chinatown,” Alexander says. “Chinatown has been very hot lately,” he adds.
In the next couple months, the glassy Wyndham Garden Chinatown, a new 16-story, 106-room
hotel, which will include a lobby bar and restaurant, at 93 Bowery, is slated to open.

And above Chinatown, one sees a budding restaurant scene on the lower Bowery. Keith McNally
planted the first flag with Pulino’s, but Mathieu Palombino (the famed chef of Motorino) recently
opened the Bowery Diner with his haute take on comfort food. (The bill of fare includes staples like
doughnuts and burgers — but with an eye toward fine ingredients and a classical style.)

EMM Group — the restaurant/nightlife trio of Eugene Remm, Mark Birnbaum and Michael
Hirtenstein, the men behind such city hotspots as Catch — signed a lease for a 20,000-square-foot
space at 199 Bowery in December, which they are planning on turning into an eatery and club.

“We’ve been looking for something special — with a lot of space,” says Remm about EMM Group’s
decision to open on the lower Bowery. “It’s an exciting area — up-and-coming with an amazing
energy. It’s like the Meatpacking District was eight years ago.”

This has made real estate here — which is scarce — a hot commodity, both with prospective
residents and developers.

Tony Sargent, a broker at Core, got two offers last week on an 1,815-square-foot two-bedroom at
195 Bowery listed for $2.75 million — a cool $1,515 per foot — and just sent out a contract for the
property.

“From an inventory standpoint, there’s not that much out there which is this large,” Sargent says.

Shaky Cohen, head of Nexus Building Development, did so well with his new boutique condo
building at 263 Bowery — selling all four units earlier this year at a respectable $1,300 per square
foot for the bottom three units and $1,425 per square foot for the penthouse — that he has plans in
place to do another building down the block at 255 Bowery (Karl Fischer designed both buildings). It should be ready in the second half of 2013, using more or less the same floor plan, except five units instead of four.

“We built the first condo below Houston,” says Hagay Azoulay of Prudential Douglas Elliman, referring to 263 Bowery. “This set the price.”

Cohen and Azoulay are anticipating increasing prices at their next project by 5 to 10 percent, depending on how 250 Bowery fares. So far, the appeal of the location seems to justify all these developers’ expectations.

“I always assumed these apartments would be for the single guy in his mid-30s,” says Cohen, “but that hasn’t been the case. We got an older couple; a younger couple that was just married; we got a couple from Italy.”

Given how many nightlife-heavy areas the Bowery hugs up to — coupled with its seedy history — one wonders just how livable the area is.

“It’s been fantastic,” says Armstrong, who recently got married. “I feel like I have everything on my doorstep, weekends are a dream.”
But the area also appeals to the younger set.

“I ended up [on the Bowery] one summer in an NYU dorm,” says Jay Solomon, who also lives at Avalon Bowery. “I asked to live in a different dorm. I didn’t want to live around there.”

But just since 2007, “the area really changed,” he says. “There were younger people, more artists, more models, more fashion, more design people.”

And as long as the hunger for being in the center of things is there, developers will continue to build. Both Vella and Cohen are on the lookout for more Bowery properties. (Cohen was recently outbid on one site.) The Bowery isn’t zoned for extremely dense housing (and there are height restrictions), but as sites become available, Cohen thinks boutique buildings “will keep popping up.”

“You see those buildings all down there?” asks Azoulay, pointing to the row of kitchen-supply stores. “All these places are moving to Brooklyn or Queens.”

If a massive exodus does ensue, the south end of the Bowery might really give the north a run for its money.

High Sales Prices Move South Down the Bowery

The Real DealApril 12, 2012
The downtrodden strip of Bowery between Houston and Canal streets is finally beginning to flourish, the New York Post reported. While the area north of Houston Street has been gentrifying for years, the Bowery was still largely known for its kitchen-supply and lighting stores below Houston Street. Thanks to the arrival of a handful of new condominiums, the New Museum and flashy retail stores, and the street’s proximity to bordering neighborhoods including Nolita, the East Village, the Lower East Side and Chinatown that is beginning to change.

As a result, the scarce available real estate in the area is becoming a hot commodity, the Post said.

For example, when VE Equities’ launched the website for its forthcoming condo at 250 Bowery, which won’t be topped off for six weeks, it was overrun with traffic and crashed within 24 hours. At 195 Bowery, listing booker Tony Sargent of Core got two offers last week for a two-bedroom unit listed for $1,515 per square foot. And developer Shaky Cohen told the Post he was so pleased with the sales prices at his 263 Bowery that he has plans to develop another Karl Fischer-designed building at 255 Bowery.

Meanwhile, brokers say that to make room for even more new development the dingy kitchen and lighting stores are destined for Brooklyn Queens.

1280 Fifth Avenue Would Now Like To Be Called One Museum Mile, Please

New York ObserverApril 11, 2012
It worked for Francis Gumm, Norma Jean Baker and Gladys Mary Smith, so why not a condo project with less than stellar sales?

The Journal reports that the condo formerly known as 1280 Fifth Avenue is now going by a new moniker: One Museum Mile.

Apparently, the East Harlem building’s bid to woo the type who lusts after a pretentious-sounding address wasn’t going so well. (We’d guess address droppers would be super attentive to any street number above 96th Street—the building is located between East 109th and East 110th Streets). Of course, the building is putting a positive spin on its new identity. (And the building will house the Museum of African Art, so the new name is not all bluster. Plus, as of last summer, after the City Council extended the district from 104th Street to 110th, the building is technically in the Museum Mile.

“Depending on your perspective,” Developer Bruce Brickman told The Journal, “we are the first building and museum that we see coming down from the top of the park. We feel we begin the Museum Mile.”

Before changing its name, the condo also experimented with tried and true methods for stimulating sells—dropping prices, renting units. The re-branching effort is expected to launch later this month. The whole affair made us wonder if some other structures around the city might be better-served, or at least better-described, by new names. The Barclays Center could be One Eminent Domain, for example, the Toren in Brooklyn, with its library profiled in The Times, might become One For the Books. As for the stalled Domino Development in Williamsburg, how about One Hipster Too Many? And, if the renaming doesn’t work out, there’s always that old standby: rechristening the neighborhood. We”re looking at you ProCro.

Living Large: 240 Park Ave South

CBSApril 11, 2012
Tonight's Living Large is inside an $8 million Manhattan apartment with an incredible kitchen. If you live there, don't be surprised to see Julia Roberts in the neighborhood. Here's CBS 2's Emily Smith.

New Listings: 330 E 75th St. #9C

Brokers WeeklyApril 11, 2012
330 E75th St. #9C
$1,095,000

Corner apartment with south facing balcony. Freshly painted, new hardwood floors. Open, pass-through kitchen with new stainless steel appliances and a washer/dryer and linen closet. Custom designed closets. The Saratoga is a full service, white glove condominium one block from Lycee Francais School. Listing broker: Lee M. Frankel, CORE.

New Listings: 422 E 72nd St. #28/29C

Brokers WeeklyApril 11, 2012
MANHATTAN
Upper East Side
422 E72nd St. #28/29C
$4,250,000

Duplex home designed by architect Peter Wiederspahn. Every room offers East River and city views. Loft-like upper level offers open living/dining area, terrace, terrazzo floors and custom maple walls. Eat-in chef’s kitchen with custom stainless steel cabinetry. Upper level includes a bedroom and a bathroom with fixtures by Urban Archeology and Waterworks. Internal steel staircase connects the two levels. Lower level offers a suite of bedrooms with a master bedroom that has a balcony along with an attached home office (or convertible fifth bedroom) and a large Waterworks bathroom. Two additional bedrooms share a third custom bathroom. Separate laundry and storage room. The Oxford Condominium has 24-hour doorman, health club and indoor pool, private sun deck with playground, basketball court and residents’ lounge. Listing broker: Alison Abovsky, CORE.

Penthouse at Blue Hits Rental Market for $14,000/Month

CurbedApril 10, 2012
The fact that the cast of Jersey Shore once partied there probably isn't much of an endorsement anymore for LES condo Blue, if it ever was. But hey, Nicolai Ouroussoff loved it too. The fact that the building's gotten raves from high and low means it probably deserves to attempt a $14,000/month rental listing. And so it is! We learn from the CORE blog that the 2,500-square-foot duplex penthouse (with a 375-square-foot terrace) is now seeking a deep-pocketed renter to pay that $14K. Unit interiors and floorplan above; for those who'd prefer a video visual, the apartment will apparently be on a future episode of Selling New York.

While we're on the subject, what else is up for grabs in Blue?

It's been a while since we've checked in on the overall state of the starchitecture—the building was designed by Bernard Tschumi—at Blue. So what else is available in the building right now? StreetEasy shows two units for sale, both 1BRs, at $899,000 and $955,000. There are also two units for rent, in addition to the penthouse. A 783-square-foot 1BR is asking $4,500/month, and a 1,315-square-foot 2BR is asking $6,750/month. As for the penthouse itself, it appears to have been available for sale at $2.95 million until just eight days ago. Perhaps there's some kind of rent-to-own deal to be worked out here.

Fifth Avenue Condo Reinvents Itself as ‘One Museum Mile’

Gallerist NYApril 10, 2012
The Robert A. M. Stern-designed condominium at the top of Central Park has reinvented itself with a new name, “One Museum Mile,” according to The Wall Street Journal. As it will house the Museum for African Art, its title reflects its identity as part of that stretch of Fifth Avenue that for decades has been known as Museum Mile because it is home to so many of New York’s museums including the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The renaming was an effort by the developer, Bruce Brickman, to recast the image of the luxury tower at 1280 Fifth Avenue (between East 109 and 110 Streets), whose units have not been selling as hoped. Thus far three have been sold, and three more have reportedly been closed according to brokers. The luxury tower has 116 units, a pool, a roof deck and park views.

This is a clever way of taking advantage of the legislation passed last summer to extend Museum Mile from 104th Street to 110th Street. And it’s an appropriate appellation. The Museum for African Art, which despite having had a few locations since its inception in 1984, will finally have a home amongst some of the city’s most prominent museums.

Ralph Walker: America's Most Underrated Architect

Core77April 09, 2012
How is it possible that the man responsible for so many of the iconic buildings that make up the New York City skyline, a man credited not only for designing the first art deco skyscraper, but for designing the very first skyscraper, period, is not a household name? Ralph Walker is probably the most overlooked American architect, though the new exhibition, "Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century" seeks to finally give the man his due. Not that Walker wasn't known and respected in his time, but he has since been overshadowed by his contemporaries Raymond Hood, who designed Rockefeller Center and William van Alen, who designed the Chrysler Building.

The free exhibition is held in the lobby of the Walker Tower by appointment only, but it's worth the extra effort to reserve a private walk through. Models of the structures Walker is most famous for dot the room alongside replicas of his sculptural entries to the 1933 Chicago Fair and the 1939 New York World's Fair. His Chicago Fair entry, by the way, was never built because it was deemed too expensive. In fact, Walker spared no expense on any of his projects. "A skyscraper," he said, "is not a building, but a city."

Walker began working as an architect at the dawn of the Machine Age, when steel frame structures extended a building's verticality beyond anything the world had ever seen before. And as construction was remarkably fast, competing firms treated skyscrapers like a veritable space race (half a century prior to the actual one), rushing to reach higher heights than the competition.

Of course, Walker and his firm got there first with the Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building (now the Verizon Building at 140 West Street). It's perhaps most notable for using the 1916 Zoning Resolution to its advantage by implementing setbacks, or tiered sections, a style now commonly associated with art deco architecture, though at that point it was simply known as moderne.

Walker's brand of humanist architecture used form, texture and ornamentation to connect emotionally with pedestrians at street level. He felt that a façade should act like a drape hung over a building. The ziggurat-style setbacks began not just as a way to create texture and break up the form, but to establish his skyscrapers as structures that allowed their occupants to literally take a step back from the street and city life.

He also paid close attention to the interior, designing details right down to the fittings for the air vents. For the Irving Bank Trust (now One Wall Street), the most expensive real estate in the city at the time, he worked with renowned mosaic artist Hildreth Meiere, who covered ceilings in opalescent kappa shells and rich red hues. Walker's massive, gilded entryways and lush interiors were very much influenced by the theater and his close friendship with Joseph Urban, the famous set designer. Again, the motto was 'spare no expense.' "A room should lose its walls for your mind's sake," Walker said.

This architectural extravagance was not well received after the depression, which set the stage for the International Style of Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier. Walker rejected their preference for glass over steel, but this simpler, streamlined approach was where the world was headed, and Walker, for all his glitz and glamour, began to step back in his role at the firm. Still, he remained active, becoming the President of AIA in 1949, which presented Walker with the Centennial Medal, an award created specially for him in 1957, on AIA's 100th anniversary. The New York Times dubbed him "The Architect of the Century."

That might have been the high point of Walker's career. Three years later, he resigned from the AIA amid controversy surrounding a member of his firm who was accused of stealing another firm's contract. Though he was later cleared of all wrongdoing and reinstated, his wife was committed to a sanatorium. Ten years later, in 1973, Walker shot himself with a silver bullet, only after destroying his AIA award. His original firm still exists under the name HLW International, but as Walker and his wife had no children, all that remains of his great legacy are the buildings he created.

To learn more about Walker and his legacy, check out Kathryn Holliday's book, Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century.

Behind The Curtain: Take An Aftertoon Field Trip To An Architecture Exhibit

Kate SpadeApril 09, 2012
we're planning to pack a lunch one day this week and pop over to this cool retrospective on architect ralph walker, whose magnificent art deco masterpieces are all over new york city. you may not know his name, but you'll definitely recognize his iconic buildings in nyc's skyline (think the barclay vesey telephone building and the irving trust building at one wall street).

check it out at 212 west 18th street. admission is free and by appointment only, so call first: 212 335 1800

Who Is The Architect Of The Century?

City AtlasApril 08, 2012
“Architect of the Century” was the headline reporting the awarding of the American Institute of Architects’ Centennial Medal to Ralph Walker in 1957. Though no such claim could ever be incontestable, Walker’s many contributions to the architectural profession, and skyscraper design in particular, are widely recognized.

An exhibit at 212 West 18th street (formerly belonging to the New York Telephone Company, but in light of recent remodeling and marketing as a multipurpose high rise, now known as the Walker Building) highlights select works from his career. Though few outside
the industry are familiar with his name, undoubtedly millions of New Yorkers have seen his buildings at one time or another.

The one-room exhibit covers the period of Walker’s life from 1917 to 1959 and four major works within that period: the Barclay-Vesey Building, the Irving Trust Building, his designs for the 1933 worlds fair in Chicago, and of course, Walker Tower.

If you can look past the shameless self-promotion of an exhibit whose featured architect designed the very building housing the exhibit and whose luxury apartments (coincidentally) go on sale this spring, you’ll enjoy a quaint and highly informative experience that includes period photographs, movies and sound clips, some actual art deco fittings from his buildings, and in the case of Walker Tower, an amazing interactive physical model where touch screen controls operate the lights in specific apartments up for sale this spring. The experience is greatly augmented by one of the better tour guides I’ve had the pleasure of listening to, being both highly informative and extremely receptive to visitors’ questions.

So who was Ralph Walker and why should you care? Well, he is one of the architects whose body of work is highly representative of a bygone era. He’s one of the icons of early skycraper design, representing a gilded age in which vast sums were spent on the opulence of both the facade and especially the interiors of skyscapers. (The stock market crash of 1929 curbed such displays of wealth). Early in the emergence of this new building typology skyscrapers were called cathedrals of commerce. A more apt nomenclature based on their entryways might be monuments to mammon.

It’s a shame that many of these buildings now have restricted access in the wake of 9/11 since many of their lobbies are truly exquisite works of art that deserve to be admired and not just glanced at in passing between the street and the elevator banks.

Walker’s Barclay-Vesey Building was actually damaged by the attacks, but has since been repaired. However, in addition to this distinction it is also considered the first art deco skyscraper ever built, and it is one of the first buildings to really take advantage of the 1916 New York zoning ordinance, which placed limits on a building’s height in relation to its distance from the street in an attempt to make the city more habitable by allowing more sunlight to hit pedestrians.

Many of Walker’s buildings (not mentioned in the exhibit, but easily spotted in their natural habitat by walking the streets of New York) are notable for their massive bulk and huge footprint, often occupying an entire city block and looking more like a small mountain than a construct of man. Construction on this scale is almost unheard of in New York today, partly because it’s rare for any developer to be able to seize an entire city block, but also because Walker did a lot of work for the New York Telephone Company whose buildings had special requirements for the tons of mechanical equipment and legions of switchboard operators that needed to be housed within their bulk.

Skyscrapers are an American innovation and no city in America is more famous for its skyscrapers than New York. From the Flatiron to the Freedom Tower our history is preserved in our buildings. Exhibits like this one remind us not just of how our buildings have evolved, but also of the socioeconomic conditions driving that evolution. They are a window into our past and from habitability issues to economic downturns, they remind us that while the architecture has changed it has all been in service to the same issues that concern us today.

Admission is free, but by appointment

Interest in Pinterest: Social media craze takes industry by storm

The Real DealApril 05, 2012
“Getting pinned” has taken on a new meaning for the 11.7 million monthly visitors to the hottest new social media website: Pinterest.
Not surprisingly, New York City real estate professionals have also gotten in on the action. And they’re finding that the photo-focused site is ideally suited to property sales, perhaps even more so than Twitter or Facebook.

“Pinterest is more helpful than those [other sites] because real estate is a visual medium,” said Matthew Leone, director of web marketing and social media for Terra Holdings, the parent company of Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead Property. “A lot of people buy real estate by connecting and looking at the visuals. Pinterest is built for that.”

Launched in 2009, Pinterest has recently exploded in popularity. It allows each user to create virtual bulletin boards. Then, as they surf the web, they can “pin” different items — usually photos — to their boards. Other users can comment on or “re-pin” these items to their own boards.

Prudential Douglas Elliman CEO Dottie Herman, for example, recently launched a personal Pinterest site, with boards titled “Favorite Places & Spaces,” “Dream Home” and, of course, one board dedicated to all things Elliman.
Pinterest’s image-centric concept makes it ideal for showcasing real estate listings, said Audrey Binkowski, director of marketing at the Manhattan brokerage RealDirect.

The site is “a great visual way to share information with people,” she said.

RealDirect “pins” photos of all its listings on Pinterest, Binkowski said, and so far, that seems to be helping them reach a wider audience. Other brokerages now using Pinterest include Halstead Property, the Corcoran Group and Core.

But the real estate industry’s involvement in Pinterest is so new that it’s not yet clear how brokers and firms can best utilize the platform.
Corcoran, for example, said its Pinterest strategy has evolved since it started using the site in December. Corcoran originally had popular “boards” about burgers at neighborhood restaurants and New York fashion, feeling that “the best way to increase our presence there is simply to share amazing things,” explained Matthew Shadbolt, Corcoran’s director of interactive products and marketing.

Then and now, the firm was skeptical that the site would lead directly to home sales, and saw it more as a way to grow the Corcoran brand.

“Selling homes specifically on Pinterest isn’t something we feel is going to happen,” Shadbolt said. “It’s not a lead generation platform for us, it’s simply a place where we can experiment, listen and extend our brand.”

But as more competitors started using Pinterest, Corcoran yanked these food- and fashion-related boards, and replaced them with ones that resemble those of other real estate firms, which focus more directly on showcasing homes. And the firm is working on other new ideas.

“Right now we’re experimenting with the idea of ‘The Best of Corcoran.com,’ organized by rooms, but we also have several other ideas we’re working on,” said Shadbolt. “Basically, we have no fixed strategy here; we’re just experimenting with lots of different approaches and seeing what feels best for the user.”

Core, which has Pinterest boards on architecture, home decor and interior design, also views the site primarily as a way to raise brand awareness.

“We know that people aren’t necessarily buying New York City real estate off a social network site,” said Kristina Helb, director of communications for Core.

Core’s Pinterest philosophy involves posting “striking images from newly listed properties that link to our blog and our website, helping to build traffic and visibility,” Helb said. “That’s the ultimate goal — to put our properties in front of as many people as possible, which benefits our sellers.”

Core tries to focus narrowly on the realm of real estate, however.

“People don’t want fashion tips from us, or our burger recommendations,” she said.

As of right now, most Pinterest visitors are in the Midwest, while Northeast users are still a small percentage, according to Internet marketing research firm comScore. But that could soon change:

The number of daily visitors to Pinterest has reportedly grown some 145 percent to nearly 12 million since the start of the year.
David Rosen, business development director for the Rubin Group at Prudential Douglas Elliman, said the group hasn’t yet joined Pinterest because he feels that serious property buyers tend to search specialized sites. “They are going to go to StreetEasy or Trulia to find real estate,” he said.

Still, he recognizes the growing influence of Pinterest. “You have to try new ground,” he said. “So I think there is potential.”

On the Market: 365 West 20th Street, #11C

The New York TimesApril 01, 2012
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