New York profiles real estate developer/art collector Aby Rosen this week, and it's a fascinating look into the mind of the man who owns iconic properties such as Lever House and the Seagram Building, and who put up the money for Ian Schrager's 50 Gramercy Park North and 40 Bond. Rosen was one of the first developers to cash in on hiring starchitects to build new condos, and by far one of the most interesting parts of the story is the sad tale of Lord Norman Foster's totally tubular 980 Madison Avenue (above), rejected by locals some time ago. Did the community board members just not jibe with the modernist design? Some believe the conflict goes much deeper than that.
At a hearing, Lord Foster presented Aby Rosen's vision and pronounced it "sculptural." A work of art. Though this was a historic district, the Foster team observed that the area wasn't ever intended to be "preserved in aspic," imagery that seemed to baffle this audience?as did repeated references to the Upper East Side's "tradition of radicalism" and the proposed public art gallery on the lower floors pretentiously referred to as a Kunsthalle. Like many younger Upper East Side residents, Rosen publicly lamented the lack of some sophisticated nocturnal street life. ("He should go out more," counters Peg Breen, the Landmarks Conservancy's Jackie O.?as?a?redhead president.) Says Adam Lindemann, telecom heir, Upper East Side resident of almost 46 years, contemporary-art collector, and Rosen backbencher, the debate "was a real generational thing. It's very unfortunate that the 60-plus crowd will make us their prisoners until they pass."