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Behold, Richard Meier's 'Neo-Modernist' Monolith For the Far East Side

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The Pritzker Prize winner has designed an apartment building for a long-stagnant lot on First Avenue

Developer Sheldon Solow has been trying to pursue his vision of a Far East Side megaproject just south of the United Nations for over a decade now. He's battled hang-ups like environmental remediation and the economic downturn, and duked it out with the neighborhood's contemptuous community board. Finally, the project is moving forward. The Wall Street Journal has the reveal on the first of several buildings slated for the former Con Edison steam plant site on First Avenue, and it isn't just any building.

The forthcoming structure will be designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Meier, who's known for his geometric white structures. But Meier has departed from the norm for 685 First Avenue. Described by the Journal as "a polished specimen of neo-Modernist simplicity," the tower at the corner of 39th Street will stand as 42 stories of shining black glass punctuated by a terrace slightly above its midsection.

Solow filed plans for the tower in August, and some specifics have changed slightly in the meantime. Its total square footage is 828,000 square feet. The building will have 556 apartments that will be divided into two-thirds rentals and one-third condos. Construction work has already begun at the site, with completion slated for 2018.

Solow has held onto several of the east side lots for quite some time, but sold off a southern section of the assemblage to JDS where the developer is currently constructing its bendy SHoP-designed rental towers. The site Solow is moving ahead with was formerly occupied by a Con Ed steam plant, and his since undergone environmental remediation. The remaining land in the assemblage is poised to give way to three additional residential towers, a commercial building, and a one-acre park.


House Calls: Upper West Side