THE I.M. PEI RESIDENCE - 11 SUTTON PLACE
Perched above Manhattan’s East River and located within the prestigious tree-lined enclave of Sutton Place is this historic townhouse and home of celebrated architect I.M. Pei and his wife, Eileen. Acquired by the couple more than 45 years ago, 11 Sutton Place is a four-story residence offering exceptional provenance and the sophisticated modernist aesthetic Pei was famous for. According to I. M. Pei's daughter, "My father did not design private homes for clients, that was not really his field, so this is such an ultimate space because this is really the expression of my father’s sense of what family is."
Renowned for designing some of the world’s most memorable landmarks, I.M. Pei’s accomplishments include The Louvre Pyramid in Paris, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Mr. Pei made his reputation by creating buildings intersecting art, history, and culture. In 1983, he won the Pritzker Prize, the highest honor bestowed on a living architect.
The townhouse at 11 Sutton Place comprises four to five bedrooms, three full bathrooms, and two powder rooms, plus a basement, with all floors serviced by a private elevator. Light, airy, and with impeccable interior and exterior renovations designed and implemented by I.M. Pei, this exceptional property features dramatic floor-to-ceiling picture windows facing the verdant Sutton Square Gardens, with views of the East River, Queensboro Bridge, and Roosevelt Island beyond.
At the heart of the house is a grand marble foyer and breathtaking spiral staircase of Mr. Pei’s design. Ascending from the first floor to the home’s three upper levels, the staircase is capped with a large oblong skylight enhanced with a geometric treatment, reminiscent of Mr. Pei’s famed glass pyramid at the Louvre.
The extended kitchen, equipped with updated stainless steel appliances, is located on the garden floor and accessed from the foyer. Behind the kitchen is a staff room with impressive space for a potential butler’s pantry, and includes another sink and useful storage space. Perfect for entertaining, and with lovely views of the garden, is the marble floored formal dining room with fireplace. Capable of accommodating large dinner parties, the dining room provides access to the owner’s private garden and residents’ park, Sutton Square Gardens, through its glass sliding doors.
The graceful staircase leads up to the parlor floor. Views of the park and the river beyond light the living room, where the Peis loved to host lively intellectual affairs with their circle of friends, global dignitaries, and artists. The living room boasts over 10-foot-tall ceilings, Tasmanian oak floors, and a working fireplace framed in elegant soapstone designed by Mr. Pei. The parlor floor also leads to a magnificent library with towering built-in bookshelves and another fireplace of I.M. Pei’s design. The library can easily be converted to a fifth bedroom.
The third floor features a spacious and serene master bedroom with views of the Queensboro Bridge. A great place for relaxation or contemplation, the master bedroom features built-in bookshelves, an en suite bathroom, and a fireplace with an original mantel made of wood and framed by marble. Down the hall from the master is the second bedroom, featuring a luxurious vanity lined with mirrors, and ample closet space. This room also has a charming nook facing Sutton Place and 58th Street.
With its most striking vantage point of the staircase and skylight above, the fourth floor offers two large bedrooms both with en suite bathrooms and ample closet space. The rear-facing bedroom overlooks the garden’s treetops and Roosevelt Tramway while the front bedroom on this floor also provides a delightful nook, perfect for a home office or small library.
Additional features of the townhouse include a lavish temperature-controlled wine cellar in the basement, with additional space that could be further utilized by the next owners as staff quarters.
THE HISTORY AND LIFESTYLE
Sutton Place, one of New York’s most exclusive and bucolic enclaves, is comprised of 14 stately townhouses arranged in a U-shape surrounding a private park facing the East River with views of the Queensboro Bridge and Roosevelt Island. The neighborhood has been referred to as “Little London” because the prewar townhouses are reminiscent of that city’s Belgravia neighborhood.
The area was pioneered in the early 1920s by socialite Anne Vanderbilt looking to find a place of quiet and peace but still blocks away from the vibrancy of Manhattan. She convinced friends, such as Anne Morgan, daughter of banker J.P. Morgan, to join her in converting the former industrial area into an avenue of grand townhouses. Other notable families followed in the years since, drawn by the river views and quiet access to nature, with five-star dining, upscale culture, and fine shopping.