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A Conversation with Cary Tamarkin

Development News // Jan 04, 2018


You are that rare combination of both architect and developer, two opposite, even opposing passions. How do your buyers benefit from this dichotomy?

CT: “Passion” is the most important word in this question. I  have great passion for the art of architecture and the business of real estate development. This combination of roles allows us to create buildings that are borne of a single vision; the goals of the architect and developer are completely aligned. We offer homes with beautifully composed floor plans, hand-selected materials of the highest quality and an uncompromising level of construction achieved by craftsmen who care.

You have referred to your buildings as “timeless.” Why is this a goal for your work?

CT:  I have no interest in our buildings screaming for attention, loudly proclaiming the fashion of the moment. We prefer to use the classic tools of architecture to design our buildings: light and shadow, proportion and space, function and spirit. Timeless buildings will remain relevant for many generations to come.

550 West 29th Street will be your tenth building in Manhattan, in addition to a select number of private single-family homes both inside and outside the city. Is there a soul to a Tamarkin building and how would you describe it?

CT: You cannot touch the soul of a building, but if it exists you will feel it. The soulful quality of our buildings, their sense of gravitas— is driven by simplicity of design. During our design process we gradually pare away all superficial elements until only the essentials remain. It is a search for the essence of the design. The soul of a Tamarkin building is a quiet confidence. Interestingly, that is how I would describe our buyers as well.

What is the concept for 550 West 29th Street?

CT:  Each of the homes we have created from the beginning of our practice has a “holy shit” factor. At 550 West 29th Street it is a 20-foot high living space in almost every residence. These spectacular volumes are the “heart” of the home. All other rooms revolve around the heart drawing light and space as required. Each of these living spaces has dramatic cascading walls of metal casement windows, many of which are animated by the parade of activity along the Hudson River.

Can you speak to the geometry of the facade?

CT:   The design of the façade for 550 West 29th Street is a bold and powerful composition, a geometric abstraction derived from the organization of the spaces within. The composition uses the weight of limestone bricks carefully balanced with the light filigree of metal windows to create a minimalist composition. Materials were chosen to reflect the industrial roots of the High Line district.  I believe that the façade of a building should be so simple and clear that a child could draw it after seeing it one time.

You’ve been a pioneer in West Chelsea, building here before the galleries, before the High Line—and now this latest project is at the edge of Hudson Yards. How has your buyer changed as the neighborhood has undergone this remarkable evolution?

CT:   In 2009, when we developed 456 West 19th Street, the High Line was just an idea. The buyers were mostly unmarried, often artistic with a pioneering spirit. By 2013, when we developed 508 West 24th Street, the success of the High Line and the opening of the much-lauded Avenues School attracted many families. 550 West 29th will draw from a large range of buyers now that the High Line district is fully transformed. Buyers at 550 will benefit from Hudson Yards just one block away. With Hudson Yards will come restaurants, schools, entertainment and even a  new subway station. At 550 West 29th Street I am confident that I know the buyer…the buyer is me!