Costas Kondylis Thinks His Buildings Are Like Benzes

Critics often deride the buildings of Costas Kondylis as bland and developer-driven, putting price-per-square-foot above style or substance. But the architect, to whose credit it must be said has built far more in the city than probably all Pritzker winners combined, sees his conservative style of construction as more in line with the great car makers of the world, or at least that is what he tells The Times in an interview.

Q Critics have described your designs as boring and formulaic.

A I don’t think they are dull. They are buildings that represent the market trend based on lifestyle. Simple designs evolve into elaborate buildings, like the Barclay Tower building. It made a lot of sense, and it’s renting well.

I do the conservative approach, like Mercedes-Benz. They improve it a little every year, and you end up with a great car.

There is an easy explanation for this comparison, though: Mr. Kondylis has a thing for “great cars.”

You were interested in car design, weren’t you?A It was my passion. I wanted to be an automotive designer, actually, but there were not a lot of schools for that back then. I would have had to work in the Fiat factory to learn how to design and build cars, and I was too snobbish to do that. I went to architecture school, and I combined that with my love of car design. One fits with the other.

Q Tell me about the car collection at your Southampton home. How many cars do you have now?

A I had 20 vehicles. I had to sell most of them. My collection is a lot smaller now. I have four, including a Ferrari and a Lamborghini.

Q Do you drive them fast?

A Kind of.

If only his designs—ranging from the Barclay’s building downtown to innumerable Trump towers—were as racy as his cars.

mchaban [at] observer.com | @MC_NYC