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A new 25-storey tower at New York's City Hall Park
FOR his firm's first residential building in the US, London-based architect Richard Rogers began with a difficult, oddly proportioned site - a kite-shaped piece of land in the Financial District of Manhattan, right across from City Hall Park.
Mr Rogers, who won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2007 and is best known for buildings with exposed structural members and systems, such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris (with Renzo Piano) and Lloyd's of London, relished the challenge.
"I love constraints," he said during a recent visit to New York. "One thing I hate is the idea of a white piece of paper," where there are no problems to solve.
The site, where Park Row and Theatre Alley intersect with Beekman Street, was previously home to part of J&R Music and Computer World, and one of its most desirable features was its wide-open view of City Hall Park to the north.
Mr Rogers' other project in the neighbourhood, 3 World Trade Center, is just a few blocks away.
Making the most of that view became a driving objective in the design of One Beekman, a 25-story building with 31 condo units being developed by Urban Muse.
Mr Rogers' firm - Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners - devised a building that provides sightlines north to the park from every apartment by shifting the circulation core to the south, where the building is hemmed in by its neighbours.
"We pulled the core right to the back, where there isn't any view, and made the building very solid there," said Graham Stirk, the firm's senior partner leading the design, while pushing all the living rooms toward the park.
To the southwest, the building essentially turns its back on 25 Park Row, a new condo tower designed by CookFox Architects rising directly next door. But to the north, "the front of the building opens up like a flower," with walls of windows framed by anthracite-hued aluminium and perforated copper screens, said Glauco Lolli-Ghetti, the principal of Urban Muse. About half the units have outdoor loggias or terraces facing the park, reached through sliding glass doors.
The design at the front riffs on the cast-iron architecture of SoHo, Mr Stirk said. "It's not curtain wall," he noted. "There's a richness to the surface depth."
The warm hue of the copper, meanwhile, is meant to pick up on the colour of neighbouring buildings, like the red brick and terra cotta of the Beekman hotel.
Inside the apartments, there is six-inch-wide white oak plank flooring; custom white oak cabinets, Tundra Grey marble and Miele appliances in the kitchen; and bookmatched Montclair Danby marble in the master bathrooms and powder rooms. The building includes retail space on the first two floors, and office space on the third and fourth floors.
The fifth floor houses the condominium's amenity spaces, including a gym, a yoga studio, an entertaining space and a common outdoor space. The apartments begin on the sixth floor.
Compass, the real estate firm handling sales and marketing for the building, expects to begin sales later this month, with one-bedrooms starting at about US$2 million and prices running up to about US$14 million for a four-bedroom penthouse with a private loggia.
"Having protected open park views in every apartment is such a unique element," said Leonard Steinberg, the president of Compass. "There's not a single low-floor apartment. There's not a single disadvantaged unit."
Beyond the building itself, he also hopes the revitalisation of New York's oldest neighbourhoodwill help attract many buyers. NYTIMES