Lord Norman Foster, the hyper-modern British Pritzker Prize winner, is having a moment in New York, with numerous projects underway across Manhattan. But his latest hews away from the slick techno-futurism for which Lord Foster is best known, instead embracing a city landmark at one of our most famous intersections.
Last July, Spansh tile maker Porcelanosa, one of that nation’s largest producers of tiles and ceramics, purchased 202 Fifth Avenue for $40 million. Better known as the Commodore Criterion Building, the six-story granite structure once housed the Commodore Manufacturing Corp. and Criterion Bell & Specialty Co., two Brooklyn-based Christmas ornament makers (hence the building’s best known feature, a troupe of carolers permanently affixed to the second-story facade). Now, the 18,000-square-foot building will house Porcelanosa’s U.S. flagship, with interiors designed by Foster + Partners.
Those Zecekendorfs sure do love their starchitects.
From William Zeckendorf’s work with I.M. Pei and Minoru Yamaski in the 1960s and ’70s to his grandsons’ projects with the likes of KPF and, most notably, Robert A.M. Stern, who created both the brand new 15 Central Park West and the newly renovated 18 Gramercy Park South, the Zeckendorfs have a thing for high design.
Add to that now 50 UN Plaza, a 44-story condo tower on the East Side that will be Lord Norman Foster’s first residential commission in the United States. Mr. Foster is well known for his work on the Hearst Tower, World Trade Center Tower 2 and the new Sperrone Westwater Gallery on the Bowery, as well as a new commission for 425 Park Avenue for L&L Holdings. With this latest commission, he cements his place as an all-around architectural power in the city.
With the choice of four of the world’s greatest architects, how could David Levinson ever settle on just one to build a new tower at 425 Park Avenue?
“That’s my next job, to find three more sites so I can build all these buildings,” Mr. Levinson joked, seated at a conference table inside his sleek white offices on 57th Street on Monday. He was surrounded by renderings and models by Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers, Rem Koolhaas and the winning architect Norman Foster.
“For us, it was really a blend of what’s the right concept for Park Avenue, a place that has not had a new building for almost 50 years, an avenue that is quite possibly the most important commercial boulevard in New York City, quite possibly the United State, and what is the place of a new build down the street from Seagrams and Lever House, two of the greatest buildings ever built,” Mr. Levinson explained. “We had to determine for that setting what’s the right firm. So really, it’s a blend of the concept and the firm we can work with.”
Who needs the Midtown East Rezoning to transform the area when you have intrepid developers and unlikely circumstances? O.K., so both of those are super-rare, so bring on the rezoning,
In the meantime, though, we can occupy ourselves with David Levinson’s daring plan to tear down 75 percent of 425 Park Avenue and replace it with a dynamic new tower by Lord Norman Foster. Foster + Partners have emerged victorious from a competition Mr. Levinson’s L&L Holdings held over the past few months between some of the world’s most high-profile designers. The British Pritzker Prize winner beat out fellow starchitects Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers (no Americans, unfortunately).
In what sounds like a cross between a party and a design crit from architecture college, L&L Holdings held four marathon sessions last week to explore proposals for replacing the tower it owns at 425 Park Avenue with a new modern office building.
Last year, L&L revealed it planned to tear down the 1950s office block and replace it with something new. A complication in the zoning meant L&L had to keep the bottom 25 percent of the building intact, otherwise the developer would be forced to replace the current building with something smaller. It tapped 11 of the world’s top architects to come up with their own plans, then chose four to present preliminary designs, which took place last week.
Two years ago, renowned British architect Norman Foster was tapped to design an underground expansion for the New York Public Library, a project that has seen little movement since it was first revealed. Foster + Partners may now be working on something above ground at Bryant Park as well, albeit it of Read More
It’s been more than three years since the Hearst Corporation has been looking for a tenant to fill the 14,000-plus-square-foot ground floor of its now not-so-new Lord Norman Foster–designed tower at Eighth Avenue and 57th Street.
Sources attribute much of the delay to the Hearst Corporation’s style of decision-making. Any retailer must be approved not Read More
The Sperone Westwater art gallery, which works with artists like Bruce Nauman and Susan Rothenberg, has filed architectural plans with the city for its new Lord Norman Foster-designed gallery at 257 Bowery. The plans, filed yesterday, call for a 10-story building of almost 15,000 square feet.
According to a Read More
The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission may vote on developer Aby Rosen‘s proposed Norman Foster-designed commercial tower at 980 Madison Avenue at its meeting next week, according to a Landmarks spokeswoman. Such a move would bring to an end a more than two-year debate over a planned tower at the site, which has Read More
Aby Rosen and Norman Foster are back at 980 Madison Avenue, and Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff has the reveal.
The two were beaten back with their 2006 plan to build a much taller 30-story apartment tower atop the 1949 Parke-Bernet Galleries building, also revealed by Read More