Learn a bit more about the architecture and history of some of Manhattan’s pre-war co-ops.Here’s the most recent post from Warburg President Frederick Peters .
Year after year, in good times and bad, New Yorkers by the thousands flock to prewar co-ops. Why? In a city where there is a substantial supply of new condominiums with much less invasive requirements and much more modern amenities, what keeps New Yorkers coming back again and again to the apartments built between 1910 and 1930? In addition to their prime locations, buyers love the feel of these prewar buildings – the big rooms, the well planned layouts and the generous hallway and service spaces. And the apartment design revolution which brought these buildings to us was pioneered by the three towering figures of apartment architecture: J.E.R. Carpenter, Emery Roth, and Rosario Candela
J.E.R. Carpenter, the oldest of the three architects, was raised in Tennessee and already an active architect by the turn of the 20th century. Carpenter’s work is characterized by a refined Georgian elegance which gave even his grandest apartments, like those at 4 East 66th St and 1060 Fifth Avenue, a sense of restraint. His 635 Park Avenue (pictured), full floor 13 room apartments (in one of which I grew up) built in 1912, is famous for having codified two element of apartment living which were then imitated by both Candela and Roth: the central foyer, essentially serving as a circulation space between living room, dining room, and library, and the functional separation of the apartment into three discrete zones – entertaining (the living room, library, and dining room), private (the bedrooms), and service (the kitchen and maids’ quarters.)
Emery Roth, an Austro-Hungarian by birth, came to this country at the age of 13 and apprenticed with a number of famous architects, including Richard Morris Hunt and Ogden Codman, before beginning his own practice. His sleek Classical style, with Beaux Arts and Deco flourishes, is best exemplified by the two iconic buildings he created which dominate the Central Park West skyline, the twin-towered San Remo on 74th Street and the fortress-like Beresford (facade pictured), towering over its corner on 81st. He subsequently served as consulting architect on the Eldorado, which clearly shows its debt to the San Remo (interior pictured) in both façade and apartment layouts. The apartments in these buildings are characterized by large rooms (although with relatively small casement windows), long galleries stretching between the living rooms at one end and the dining room at the other, and shipshape master bathrooms containing both a large porcelain bathtub and a fully tiled stall shower.
Rosario Candela, who was born in Sicily in 1890 and came to New York at the age of 16, is probably Manhattan’s best known apartment house architect. Not surprisingly, his work was highly influenced by the Italian master of proportion, Palladio. In creating many of New York’s best known apartment houses, including 834 and 960 Fifth Avenue and 720, 740 (pictured), 770 (pictured), and 778 Park, Candela pioneered a style of apartment layouts which are unfailingly graceful and intuitive, with large foyers, sweeping circular staircases, and grandly sized master baths. He also designed tiered setbacks on the upper floors of many of his buildings, creating the wedding cake effect which is such a beautiful feature of our skyline today.
Today, many of the condo architects such as Robert Stern take pride in recreating Carpenter or Candela layouts with all the modern touches. But for many New Yorkers, they just prefer the real thing.