The Billionaires’ Row supertall condo market is a crowded space, and JDS Development Group chief Michael Stern knows that. But JDS and fellow developers Property Markets Group and Spruce Capital Partners know their project: the tapering shoot of terra cotta and cast bronze at 111 West 57th Street, has an advantage.
As Stern said at Tuesday’s topping-out and model apartment unveiling for the 1,428-foot residential tower, “you can either be in the bleacher seats, or dead center on the 50-yard line.” The analogy refers to the tower’s location just off the park’s southern boundary, a position that grants it almost perfectly symmetrical views north over Central Park. It’s one of the main selling points of the building, where 46 full-floor and duplex condos are currently seeking buyers starting at $16 million with closings slated to begin in the spring.
The views are a major selling point but so too is the architecture, by frequent JDS collaborator SHoP Architects, who designed the tower with a facade that aligns it more closely in materiality with New York’s towers of yore than the glassy crop it joins on Billionaires’ Row.
When the developers tapped SHoP for the supertall, it was with the directive to create a building that would become a fixture on the skyline, and not only because of its height.
“Michael [Stern] asked if we could make a building that was uniquely New York and absolutely modern and forward thinking, but has the DNA of the New York skyscraper embedded in it,” Gregg Pasquarelli, founding principal at SHoP, said Tuesday. Pasquarelli, a native New Yorker, thinks they succeeded. “It’s the quintessential tower designed and built by New Yorkers,” he said.
The tower was made possible in part because of the air rights, or the remaining buildable square footage, acquired from Steinway Hall. The project incorporates the hall’s rotunda reception room, a New York interior landmark since 2013, into its base. The rotunda has yet to be restored, and is being marketed as a retail space that will have a private entrance from the residential building’s lobby as well as a street entrance.
The site’s past association with the Steinway piano brand makes its way into the building’s interiors, designed by Studio Sofield, in interesting ways. A gold and silver-toned mural in the lobby by Brooklyn-based decorative artist John Opella depicts elephants escaping from the Central Park Zoo, their ivory tusks prominent, amid a backdrop of some of the city’s most recognizable buildings (111 West 57th Street among them).
Studio Sofield also furnished the 43rd floor model apartment unveiled on Tuesday, a full-floor, 4,492-square-foot condo that’s currently seeking $28.75 million. Specialized touches that appear throughout the condos include the hardware, conceptualized by Studio Sofield and cast by P.E. Guerin in its foundry on the West Village’s Jane Street.
One of the more designy of the interior door handles is unmistakably modeled after the building itself. William Sofield, the firm’s lead designer, says the level of detail was necessary to enrapture buyers.
“I know people say this is billionaire housing, but most of the billionaires I know have a lot of character and do not respond to buildings that play to the lowest common denominator,” Sofield said. “They got to where they are because they do have a point of view. And above everything I think this building has a point of view.”