15 CPW

observatory web 15 CPW

[Illustration by Gary Hovland.]

I think it was Diana Vreeland who first equated elegance with restraint. So when it emerged in fall 2005 that the razor-tongued hedge-fund manager Daniel Loeb had set a new Manhattan real-estate record by dropping $45 million for a 10,700-square-foot penthouse condominium with wraparound views, eight bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, 14-feet-high ceilings, a huge terrace and a screening room at Fifteen Central Park West—then not much more than a big hole in the ground—it didn’t seem to bode well for this latest addition to the Manhattan skyline.

But as it rose from that hole over the last year and a half, Fifteen—spell it out, please, like they do in the building’s Pentagram-designed custom logo, based on turn-of-the-century applied metal lettering—has turned out to be something completely different. Like that logo, this neo-Classical-style über-condo is both a refined throwback to the golden age of Manhattan, and a dignified gauntlet thrown down before the sort of developers who think that just because we fools rush in to buy them, more ticky-tacky gimcrack apartments are what this sliver of schist needs.