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Inside a Lee Mindel-Designed $16 Million 5BR at The Marquand

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It was circa 9 a.m. when we toured a 5BR model unit at under-construction conversion The Marquand, and the only beverages on tap were orange juice and sparkling water, but architect Lee Mindel was positively drunk on design. (Our amateur photography, alas, cannot be blamed on any form of inebriation.) Leading a group on a tour around the airy, 4,000-square-foot-ish apartment, Mindel enthused over positively everything, from deceptively simple paneling and the slabs of marble that make up the master bath's tub to the carefully chosen light fixtures and furnishings by "mid-century masters." Sadly, the furniture he selected does not come with the apartment?despite its $16 million price tag. Mindel was even psyched about the wall of the elevator vestibule.

The 100-year-old Marquand at 11 East 68th Street, which was originally built as a townhouse for the founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art before it was razed in 1913 to make way for luxury apartments, is currently undergoing a complete overhaul, which will result in 22 new four- to six-bedroom units that start at $15 million, with a garden-level mansion asking in the high $50 millions and two triplex penthouses?both topping 6,000 square feet with 2,000-foot-plus terraces?asking in the low $40 millions. Reminder: 6 West, pictured in the gallery above, is asking $16 million.

A few of the units are already in contract (we heard from a tipster that as many as 25% of the units have already been spoken for, at $3,500 to $4,500 per square foot), and closings are expected to begin in about six months, with the whole renovation aiming in finish in two years' time. Elliman has the listings, and though none are listed online, three are currently "available," including the model unit, its slightly bigger mirror image 6 East for $17M, and 8 West, which has Central Park views, for $18M. (Email the brokers for more info.)

About that elevator vestibule? Mindel found a door designed by Richard Morris Hunt, the original architect, and based a block of wood paneling off of it that greets visitors as they step out of the elevator and into the apartment. He took the escutcheon?read: the curvy outline of a shield or a crest?which was another remnant left from the Met founder's mansion, and is replicating it around the lobby, courtyard and curbside exterior to create a seamless flow between the apartments and the building's common areas. In short, though he's furnished the model unit (excuse us, "prototype") with a mix 'n' match of 20th-century greats that reads like a design history textbook, from Albini and Bellini to Lafon and Gropius, Mindel is actually also into old-school stuff. He wants it to feel a bit like an exclusive lair where residents can feel like they fit in, a la the Lotus Club or the Harvard Club. "I love the tradition of clubs," he said. "You can be embraced by New York and feel like you belong here."

He panned the idea of presenting apartments to buyers as mere white boxes and emphasized the elaborate millwork of The Marquand's units, as well as his goal of eliminating the "Upstairs/Downstairs" feel, a.k.a. combining the old units so that there are no longer distinct servants' quarters and rather a floorplan with long sightlines and a bright, open layout. Earlier, one visitor queried: "Conceptually, how long does it take you to put something like this together?" After a moment's thought, Mindel answered, "30 years." He then proceeded to exclaim over the way a valve in a sink was hidden beneath two crystalline knobs.

Even though Mindel himself announced that he abhors virtual staging and artists' renderings (It looks better in person, he maintained), we're gonna show you some anyway, because they're a heck of a lot prettier than our shoddy shots.

Lastly, some Marquand floorplan porn for the road:

· The Marquand [official]
· 11 East 68th St. [HFZ Capital]
· Cheapest Condos At The Marquand Will Cost $15 Million [Curbed]
· The Marquand coverage [Curbed]