“My own feeling, and the feeling of board, is that we’d like this project to succeed,” J.D. Nolan, chair of Community Board 4’s land-use committee, told The Observer. “The Dursts are great developers, and they have worked very well with us in the past. Nevertheless, this is a rezoning, and the public should benefit as well as the developer.”
And so, the full board voted unanimously against Durst Fenter’s new apartment building on the far West Side last night. One of the most dynamic designs of the decade, 625 West 57th Street calls for a swooping white pyramid that rises dramatically up from the Hudson like an origami dove taking flight. Designed by Danish wunderkinds Bjarke Ingels Group (aka BIG), the project has even decided to eschew LEED ratings in its quest for singularity.
Durst Fetner is at work on arguably the most dynamic, certainly the least square, apartment building in New York City. Jean-Daniel Noland, chair of Community Board 4’s land-use committee, even cautioned his fellow committee members against overwrought superlatives when they considered the project last night as it entered the first phase of public review.
“We are in a house of worship, so no talk of icons tonight,” he said from behind a long table inside the Actor’s Temple synagogue on West 47th Street. “Only Jehovah can do that.”
Still, his colleagues on the committee could not resist, referring to the building as beautiful, interesting, celebrated, stunning, beautiful, attractive, singular, impressive, beautiful and destination architecture. At the end of the meeting, when a resolution was being drafted to make recommendations to the full board on what conditions it should support the project, James Wallace said, “I think we should go out of our to note the spectacular beauty of this design.”
One of the big surprises to come along since the boom has been Durst Fetner’s new apartment building planned for the end of West 57th Street. The pyramidal structure designed by the Danish wunderkind Bjarke Ingels Group, aka BIG, is the kind of ambitious creation that was supposed to have died during the decadent days of the last decade. (We may actually start to see more of the exquisite as the super-high-end continues to out-perform every other housing sector in the city.)
Within the BIG surprise was hidden a smaller one, revealed in planning documents filed when the project was approved two weeks ago, dubbed Development Site 2. Plans call for a 110-unit apartment building that backs onto the pyramid apartments, though it is unlikely it will be built in that form, if at all. Instead, it is a zoning technicality.
Since 2008, Hal Fetner has been the president and CEO of Durst Fetner Residential, the joint venture with the Durst Organization that has developed high-end residential projects across Manhattan and the New York metro region. Besides the Epic and the Helena, a pair of LEED Gold projects completed several years ago, the group has most recently spearheaded developments at 1212 Fifth Avenue, 855 Sixth Avenue and West 57th Street, the high-concept, 600-unit residential building between 11th and 12th avenues. Mr. Fetner, 50, talked about these projects and the residential development market in general.
The Observer: What’s the latest with your residential condominium project at 1212 Fifth Avenue?
Mr. Fetner: At 1212 Fifth Avenue, we’re opening up our sales office, officially, any day now. This is the culmination of about three-and-a-half to four years’ worth of planning and work, and we are completing a total gut rehab of 1212 Fifth Avenue.
We have the luxury of having been able to vacate the entire building, so by having a completely empty building I was able to really redo the entire mechanical system in the building as well as all the floors. All the interior walls except for the core of the building were removed, and what we ultimately were left with was a prewar building with modern layouts.
She’s really, truly a beautiful building.