65 Stories of Armani Glory: Inside Macklowe’s Old Drake Dreams

drake armani first floor 65 Stories of Armani Glory: Inside Macklowes Old Drake DreamsOur invitation to preview Harry Macklowe’s new Drake Hotel model must still be in the mail. In the meantime, The Observer has managed to get our hands on the next best thing–some actual architectural drawings of the planned development circa 2008, when an Armani-branded tower might not have been too far-fetched.  

An inside source passed along these sketches of Mr. Macklowe’s planned development, which show a tapered 65-story tower starting with three stories of retail, followed by offices until the 20th floor, topped by a Armani Drak10-story hotel and 33 floors of residential above that. We reached out to the creators, ubiquitous architects-of-record SLCE, but received no comment.  

This offers a snatch of that far-off era called Early 2008, when ambitions for the site were at their most staggering. These drawings, according to a source knowledgeable with failed negotiations to purchase the site that year, were being pushed as “the Valentino, then Armani hotel/office/residential site before both of them backed out and Bulgari stepped in. Bulgari loved the idea and wanted to fully brand it but wouldn’t fund any of it.” Ah, what a boom it might have been if it had lasted.

The intricacy of the designs is also quite stunning, with a jigsaw of retail space and office lobbies set off from an addition fronting Park Avenue, which residents and hotel guests would have used to enter the building. These are surrounded by interlocking plazas–a puzzle-piece designe necessitated by zoning constraints, as well as two townhouses that, at least for now, Mr. Macklowe is required to build around.

The designs also show a tapering tower, where the base floors start at 20,000 square feet before rising, after five setbacks, to a mere 5,500 square feet on the upper residential floors. Mr. Macklowe is said to be overseeing the new Drake designs (with little or no financial stake in the project), so these architectural scribbles provide some insight into what might be taking shape inside the heads Rafael Viñoly and the septuagenarian genius.

lkusisto@observer.com

Slideshow credit: Matt Chaban.