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Architect Costas Kondylis dies at 78

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The prolific New York architect helped dramatically reshape the city’s skyline

Silver Towers on West 42nd Street, designed by Kondylis and completed in 2009.
Max Touhey

New York architect Costas Kondylis, known for his many contributions to Manhattan’s skyline—many of which are associated with Donald Trump—has died, according to The Real Deal. No cause of death was reported; the architect was 78.

In more than 50 years of practicing in New York, Kondylis had a hand in designing some of the city’s best-known (if not always best-loved) buildings, many of them high-rise condo towers. In a 1996 New York profile, Curbed contributor Karrie Jacobs wrote, “He has probably designed as many Manhattan buildings as any other living architect—around two or three dozen by his count.” (That number has risen significantly since then; TRD estimated that “[f]rom 2000 to 2007, he designed 65 buildings — so, one building every six weeks.”)

“But his name is not well known,” Jacobs continued, “because apartment buildings, or more precisely postwar high-rise apartment buildings, are not exactly looked upon as architecture.” While that may be the case to this day, there’s no doubt that Kondylis shaped New York’s skyline as much, if not more, than many of the starchitects working today.

Trump World Tower, one of many collaborations between Kondylis and Donald Trump.
Max Touhey

Kondylis started his career at Davis, Brody & Associates, and then moved on to Philip Birnbaum and Associates; it was there that he designed his first success story, the Manhattan Place condo in Murray Hill, which opened in 1984.

“Up to that point the apartment was a place for somebody to have shelter,” Kondylis told the New York Post in 2006. But after Manhattan Place opened, “people started looking at housing as a product,” he said in that same interview, “[t]he same way you’d look at a car, at fashion, and trends in clothes.”

According to TRD, that building, and the way of living it came to symbolize, brought Kondylis to the attention of Trump. He tasked the architect with designing several of his buildings, notably Trump World Tower, which was completed in 2001. That skyscraper, a stark, glass-clad monolith, was the tallest residential building in the city when it was completed; its height prompted opposition from neighborhood residents and even the neighboring United Nations. Ultimately, it rose without issue.

More recently, Kondylis’s eponymous firm designed several gleaming high-rises on Manhattan’s far west side, including the Silver Towers, River Place, and Atelier, which have transformed the western end of 42nd Street.

“I believe in skyscrapers,” Kondylis told the New York Times in 2011. “It’s the most environmental form of urban development.”