News

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

Exhibit Takes Soaring Look at Skyscraper Master’s Work

NY 1April 01, 2012
A new exhibit in Chelsea explores the work of a man who changed the city's skyline with his iconic, art deco-styled buildings. NY1's Jill Urban field the following report.

He helped shape New York's skyline with his iconic art deco styled buildings. While many know his work, some say Ralph Walker is the most famous architect no one has ever heard of. Well now a new exhibit is showcasing his life and legacy.

"Ralph Walker was a master of skyscraper design," said Exhibition Specialist Marci Clark. "New Yorkers know and love his buildings from the Barclay Vesey Building, to 1 Wall Street to the 14th Street Salvation Army building. But they don’t know who Walker is. And so this exhibit is to introduce him to the public again."

Located inside the lobby of the Walker Tower located at 212 West 18th Street, which is currently being repurposed as residences, the exhibit highlights the impact Walker had on architecture starting in the roaring 20s. He was one of the first to embrace the new zoning ordinance of 1916 that required buildings set back away from the street to allow more light and air. His first building, which received much acclaim, was the Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building in Lower Manhattan, also known by many to be the first art deco skyscraper in New York.

"Barclay-Vesey building really launched his career. It was widely acclaimed and celebrated as one of the first major modern skyscrapers in New York City," Clark said.

It’s asymmetrical set back design led the way for a generation of skyscrapers built throughout New York. From there he and his firm built over a dozens of buildings in the New York area.

Aside from his vision for a skyscraper at a time when New York was being defined by its skyline, what made Walker so remarkable was his incredible attention to detail and his ability to create buildings that people could really enjoy.

"The ornament of his buildings was meant to engage individuals in a very unique way," Clark said. "So this seemingly severe silhouette when viewing the buildings from afar seemed less so with elephant heads and crystalline forms and a wonderful curtain-like ornament."
Examples of Walker's work can be seen through the exhibit's archival photos, models and original sketches.

The exhibition runs through May 1 and is free and open to the public daily from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. by appointment only.
For more information, visit ralphwalkerexhibit.com.

How to make your own starchitect: Walker Tower draws buzz with book

The Real DealApril 01, 2012
In Manhattan real estate, there are no rules,” says Alec Baldwin’s character on the NBC sitcom “30 Rock.”

Perhaps that’s what developers Michael Stern and Elliott Joseph were thinking when they formulated an unconventional marketing strategy for Walker Tower, a newly renovated condo conversion at 212 West 18th Street.

Stern and Joseph bought the building from Verizon for $25 million in 2009. That’s when they started learning more about the building’s long-forgotten architect, Ralph Walker. Walker built a number of notable commercial buildings in the 1920s, including the Art Deco skyscraper 1 Wall Street, and Frank Lloyd Wright was reportedly a fan. But a falling-out with the American Institute of Architects made Walker a pariah, and he died in obscurity.

“We started delving into what we thought was this great untold story,” Stern said.

Armed with this compelling narrative, the developers decided on an unusual marketing strategy. Instead of “the typical, canned campaign,” Stern said, they approached architectural historian Kathryn Holliday and asked her to write a book about Walker. Building buzz about the architect, they felt, would help sell the building’s 51 condos. The book, titled “Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century,” will be published by Rizzoli in September, and last month, the developers installed a temporary exhibit honoring the architect on the ground floor of the under-construction Walker Tower.

This build-your-own-starchitect strategy is “very bold,” acknowledged Shaun Osher, head of Core, which is handling sales at the project. But at any project, he noted, “marketing and selling is about educating the consumer.”

As for Holliday, a professor at the University of Texas, Arlington, she recalls being “very surprised” when she was asked to pen the tome, and “curious about why real estate developers were interested in the history of the building.”

It may seem like a lot of trouble to go through to sell condos, even though the penthouses will have asking prices nearing $10,000 per square foot, Core said. But Stern said: “Our attitude is, if we build the right product” — starchitect and all — “the sales will take care of themselves.”

Five Brooklyn Townhouses Asking Under $1 Million

CurbedMarch 30, 2012

Address: 141 Clermont Avenue in Fort Greene Vitals: 1,324 square feet Price: $849,000 The Skinny: This house might be a borderline first-time buyer pick, since the listing hints at the work it might need: "The quaint interior has the original wide plank floors. Currently 1,324 square feet, this property has significant room for expansion." Still, the pre-Civil War construction date wins the buyer bragging rights, and there are front and back gardens. There's only one photo on the listing, but here's the floorplan:

The Ultimate Bachelor Pad Comes with a Slide

VedereMarch 30, 2012
Recently, professional Poker player Phil Galfond put his lavish downtown Manhattan apartment on the market. What was originally purchased as two apartments, has become a penthouse duplex that's the epitome of the ultimate bachelor pad. Designed by Turett Collaborative Architects, combined the two apartments with a helical slide that begins at the top floor and lands into the living room.

“This penthouse duplex [also has a] keyed elevator onto both floors, offering the perfect layout for entertaining both large groups and in more intimate settings, such as dinner parties,” says real estate agents Lindsee Silverstein and Elizabeth Kee of CORE Group Marketing, representing the property.

The main level of the penthouse duplex reveals an open kitchen with breakfast bar, a spacious sitting room and formal dining room with a large terrace for cocktails or dining al fresco. Additionally, there is a large formal living room with two full baths and a second, south facing terrace with spectacular city and bridge views. Take the elevator to the top level to find a recreation room with a pool table and wet bar.

“This property is, by far the most unique property I have represented, says Kee. “I have yet to see another apartment in New York City that offers a sculptural slide as an art installation with the dual function of an artistic expression and an alternate way to descend to the main level.”

If you think that this might be the only extravagant property that the agents have ever represented, think again. “[Another] recent properties I represented [was located at] The Stanwick, (132 West 22nd Street) in Manhattan, which was a 3000sqft+ 2 bedrooms/2 Bath loft with soaring ceilings and famed composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's grand concert piano.

But when it comes to selling this property, Silverstein believes that the downtown penthouse duplex will definitely be one of her most memorable sales. “As soon as any buyer walks into the space it seems they connect with the property immediately,” she says. “The buyer's eyes light up--their reaction is [always] priceless,” she adds. For Silverstein, it's the sculptural slide that has become the incredible conversation piece that welcomes playfulness. “No matter who walks off the elevator, everyone lets loose and has fun exploring all of the features this East Village pad,” she states.

According to the agents, potential purchasers mentioned wanting to landscape the 1000+sqft private roof deck in order to create a private BBQ and outdoor dining & wet bar area, while others have described building a private Jacuzzi or Japanese soaking tub as a means to better enjoy the panoramic views of the skyline and sunsets.

Serafina restaurateur’s UES pad hits rental market

The Real DealMarch 29, 2012
Serafina restaurant owner Vittorio Assaf and his wife have listed their Upper East Side apartment for $35,000 per month, the New York Post reported. Reba Miller, senior managing director of sales at Core, has the listing for the unit in the Leonori building, at 26 East 63rd Street between Madison and Park avenues. According to both the Post and Streeteasy.com, the apartment has four bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms. The unit will be ready for move-in June 1.

Assaf, along with business partner Fabio Granato, own the Serafina Restaurant chain, which has eateries in New York City, White Plains, East Hampton, Philadelphia and Brazil. The building itself dates back to 1901 and is Beaux-Arts in its design. According to the Post, the apartment has views of Central Park, as well as a 40-foot-long living room with fireplace, Venetian-plastered walls and a domed entry. The apartment has 2,700 square feet of space, Streeteasy.com indicates. According to the Post, Italian architect Misa Poggi.

Gimme Shelter: What's up, doc

New York PostMarch 29, 2012
Serafina Group restaurateur Vittorio Assaf and his wife, Charlotte, have listed their posh four-bedroom, 5 1/2 -bathroom apartment at the Leonori building on East 63rd Street for $35,000 a month.

The home was designed by Italian architect Misa Poggi, who also designs for Loro Piana Interiors.

The apartment is above Madison Avenue and has Central Park views, a 40-foot-long living room with a fireplace, a chef’s kitchen and 12-foot ceilings. There are also Venetian-plastered walls, a large domed entry and lots of storage space. The rental is available starting June 1.

The Leonori building is a Beaux-Arts structure that dates back to 1901.

The Assafs live in a penthouse that they own a few blocks away.

Listing broker Reba Miller of Core declined to comment.

Ralph Walker: Architect Of The Century

Design PorteurMarch 29, 2012
The first ever exhibition to explore the life and work of the architect, Ralph Walter is housed at the Walker Tower building designed by him. The building was recently renamed Walker Tower in honor of the architect. The exhibit includes archival plans and drawings, large models of Walkerʼs masterpieces, and interactive digital displays that provide visitors with a guided tour through his career. The exhibition is being held on the ground floor of the building at 212 West 18th Street.

The famous Beaux-Arts Ball of 1931, a “Fête Moderne” held at the Hotel Astor, where architects dressed as the buildings they had designed. From left to right: A. Stewart Walker as the Fuller Building, Leonard Schultze as the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Ely Jacques Kahn as the Squibb Building, William Van Alen as the Chrysler Building, Ralph Walker as the Irving Trust, D. E. Ward as the Metropolitan Tower, and Joseph Freedlander as the Museum of the City of New York.

Ralph Walker (1889-1973), the influential architect who shaped New Yorkʼs skyline during the Roaring Twenties through iconic Art Deco skyscrapers including the Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building at 140 West Street and the Irving Trust Building at One Wall Street in the heart of the cityʼs Financial District. Walker was called “the only other honest architect in America” by Frank Lloyd Wright, and hailed in the New York Times as the “architect of the century”.

The West 18th Street Telephone Building just after its completion in 1931. The building is now Walker Tower, where the exhibition is being held.

Walker was a master of modern ornament, using his skills as a designer to “humanize” the skyscraper and the city itself. Across the 50 years of his practice, Walker invented a new language for telephone buildings across the country, shaped the Chicago and New York Worldʼs Fairs of the 1930s, and became an outspoken advocate for his vision of a modern American city. The exhibit is curated by Kathryn Holliday, an architectural historian and professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, and features materials from her upcoming book, Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century, to be published in the fall by Rizzoli. The exhibit is free.

'Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century' Opens to Visitors

CurbedMarch 28, 2012
The Event: Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century opening party; building sneak peak inside 212 West 18th Street.

In The House: Shaun Osher and his CORE constituency, architects and architecture fans, Former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe.

Dress Code: Dark suits and power ties on the men, lots of black dresses on the women; until Stipe shows up in a 1,000 yards of knit yarn.

Menu: Tasty! Skewered shrimp with shaved coconut, little beef tenderloins with a tiny dollop of guacamole on a cracker, Thai tuna ceviché in a wonton cone, shitake mushroom wraps.

Music: a violin and flute duet played briefly before seemingly getting the hook for being too somber for the occasion.

With plans to charge $10K a square foot for penthouse space, it's never a bad idea to dust off and polish the starchitect reputation of a building's designer well before the condo reincarnation is ready for occupancy. So for the next three months there will be a public
exhibition in the ground floor public areas of the Walker Tower at 212 West 18th Street showing off the work of Art Deco architect Ralph Walker, who also built the tower at 1 Wall Street and the Barclay-Vesey Building. The crowd last night included architects, brokers,
history buffs (Walker's biographer and architectural historian Kathryn E. Holliday was on hand to sign her book), and PR folk. The ground floor is still very much raw construction space, and the party's bars were placed in the building's elevators in part to deter curious guests
from trying to get upstairs. The Ralph Walker exhibit is free, but by appointment only. The building should be completed within 12-16 months.

First Look: A Legacy Deconstructed - Walker Tower

New York MagazineMarch 28, 2012
Had “starchitect” been part of the popular lexicon in Ralph Walker’s day, he would have definitely fit the description. The American master builder (1889–1973), who designed skyscrapers and elaborate Deco interiors that changed the skylines of Manhattan and Chicago, is
being celebrated with a new book, Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century, published by Rizzoli this fall, and an exhibit of his work, curated by the book’s author, Kathryn Holliday, opens March 28 in one of Walker’s iconic buildings (212 W. 18th St.; 212-335-1800 or ralphwalkerexhibit.com; free admission; by appointment only). Here, the “Red Room” of the Irving Trust Building at One Wall Street, one of the many magnificent Art Deco interiors he designed.

A sublime portrait of Walker and his architect peers wearing the buildings they designed as costumes for the famous Beaux-Arts Ball of 1931. It was called a “Fete Moderne” held at the Hotel Astor. From left to right: A. Stewart Walker as the Fuller Building, Leonard Schultze
as the Waldorf-Astoria, Ely Jacques Kahn as the Squibb Building, William Van Alen as the Chrysler Building, Ralph Walker as the Irving Trust, D.?E. Ward as the Metropolitan Tower, and Joseph Freedlander as the Museum of the City of New York.

A photo of Walker’s West 18th Telephone Building in 1931 just after it was completed and where the show is being held today. This photograph illustrates the huge transition from the city being composed of neighborhoods of small brownstones and tenements to the new massive proportions of modernity.

As contemporary as this looks, it is Walker’s proposal for his Tower of Water and Light for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. His intention was for the 600-foot tower to be built of aluminum and glass with water flowing down to the ground creating a dreamlike mist. It was never built, but there is a model of it in the show.

On the book’s cover, the elegant Barclay Vesey Building Walker designed on West Street in 1926. Frank Lloyd Wright called Walker “the only other honest architect in America”.

Archi-Spring has Sprung: A.N. Takes in Three Events Across New York

Architect's NewspaperMarch 28, 2012
It was a busy archi-spring night last night. The Municipal Arts Society held their debate on NYUʼs 2031 expansion plan, the AIDS
Memorial exhibit opened at the Center for Architecture, and Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century opened at the newly re-dubbed Walker Tower on West 18th Street. Read on for highlights of the MAS debate and to view few photos from the Center and Walker Tower…

The MAS debate was the most sober event of the evening with a panel packed with academic all stars. The NYU opponents applauding statements they found to their liking lent the debate the air of a souped-up community board meeting. Nevertheless, it was refreshing to hear ideas cleanly teased out by moderator John Alschuler, of HR&A, the real estate/economic advisory firm. The community had an informed voice on stage in CB2 Chair Brad Hoylman. His point of view was largely backed up by Prattʼs Ron Shiffman, while NYUʼs Hilary Ballon and Pennʼs Gary Hack tipped the balance back in favor of NYU.

Alschuler got the ball rolling by stating “nobody loves the Coles Gymnasium,” the bland brick bunker on the corner of Houston and Mercer, and that “some level of change is going to come there,” partly in the form of a hotel in the so called Zipper Building. This immediately spurred Schifman to respond that there is little need for a hotel on the campus as NYC has plenty already. “People can
get on the subway, why are we protecting them,” he said of the NYU visitors. “Thatʼs a formula for disaster.” Hack argued that at Penn they began their expansion with a hotel, because thatʼs what visiting academics need most—a place to stay on campus. While Ballon, who is based at NYU Abu Dhabi, said the universityʼs international franchises mean they need a hotel more than ever.

In the end, the southern super block with its two towers was the source of less tension, as opposed to the proposed Boomerang
Buildings on the northern superblock. Schiffman went so far as to say that he likes the Kimmelman plan, which would keep the
below grade space but nix the above grade structures. But Hack said the new proposal, including the buildings, would open the
superblock up and provide better circulation. He added that the additional space would give students a place to gather instead of
meeting at “third place haunts” like Starbucks. Hoylman said the north block proposal would more likely become a student
thoroughfare, not a neighborhood square. “This is about NYU solving an identity crisis; they get their quad,” he said.

Ralph Walker Renaissance

DwellMarch 27, 2012
To Frank Lloyd Wright, Ralph Walker was “the only other honest architect in America,” and to The New York Times, he was the “architect of the century.”* Throughout his lifetime, his art deco style redefined the notion of a skyscraper thanks to his innovative detailing and ornamentation that finessed the buildingʼs rigid structure. The 1920s and 30s witnessed Walkerʼs heyday—as a principal at Voorhees, Gmelin & Walker, he contributed to Manhattanʼs skyline with the Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building (1926) and the Irving Trust Building at 1 Wall Street (1931). Walker was a true advocate for a new modernist architectural vision in New York and America; and starting today, an exhibition celebrating his oeuvre opens at one of the architectʼs overlooked buildings at 212 West 18th Street.

Walkerʼs architectural legacy extended beyond New York and its skyscrapers with his work for the Chicago Worldʼs Fair (1933) and another fair on his home turf in 1939. By the late 1940s, he was elected as head of the AIA New York, and in 1957 he received the national organizationʼs highest honor, the Centennial Medal of Honor.

The Walker Tower, nestled off Seventh Avenue between West 17th and 18th Streets, was once known as the Verizon Telephone Building and housed the companyʼs corporate headquarters for decades. (Verizon will maintain its toehold on floors one through seven; the new condos will occupy all the space from the 8th floor on up.) Designed in 1929, the buildingʼs exterior displays the essence of Ralph Walker with its folded, curtain like brick façade and detailed ornamentation. Today the developers Michael Stern of JDS
Development and Elliott Joseph of Property Markets Group, with the help of local architecture firm Cetra/Ruddy, are carefully restoring the façade. The hat trick here is to retain Walkerʼs early 20th-century aesthetic while gutting the interior space and refiguring the layouts of the upper floors to accommodate Manhattanʼs luxury-condo-hunting population. (One thing that wonʼt be edited: the towerʼs interior ceiling heights of 14 feet and more.)

Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century opens free to the public this week (by appointment only) and displays original drawings, renderings, and plans done by Walkerʼs hand, in addition to archival photos and details on the buildingʼs present incarnation as luxury condominiums.
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