CityRealty Editor Carter B. Horsley Unveils Top 10 Most Stylish Apt. Bldgs.

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CityRealty Editor and Architecture Expert Carter B. Horsley Unveils Top 10 Most Stylish Apartment Buildings in Manhattan

In anticipation of the arrival of fashion week, CityRealty Editor Carter B. Horsley reveals his picks for the top ten most stylish buildings in Manhattan. According to Mr. Horsley, New York City, by virtue of being one of the fashion centers of the world, redefines the word, “style,” spanning the runways at Lincoln Center to the distinctive architecture and iconic buildings of the rich, famous and fashionable.

“This is a great time to turn the spotlights on our timeless architecture, as well as the latest designer styles,” says Mr. Horsley. “These are signature apartment buildings that brand New York as the glamour capital, as well.”

Top Ten Most Stylish Apartment Buildings in Manhattan
By Carter B. Horsley, CityRealty Editor

1. 441 East 57th Street
This mid-block apartment building is the city’s most Chanel-inspired structure: a white dress with black piping and great proportions. Chanel’s classic designs are simple, clean lines with luxurious texture. Reflective glass, however, was not in her vocabulary. FLAnk architects fashioned this dazzling jewel, a 15-story building with just seven units, and managed not to spill over onto the next-door garden of media couple Tina Brown and Harold Evans. The couple and the co-op board of their building sued to block this development but eventually withdrew their suit. Beauty overwhelms!

2. The Plaza Hotel at 768 Fifth Avenue between 58th Street and Central Park South
Everyone's favorite dowager hotel, the Plaza is the quintessence of Edwardian elegance and New York urbanity. Designed by Henry J. Hardenbergh, it was erected in 1909 and decades later would acquire a perky and coy mascot, Eloise. The hotel’s sumptuous lobbies were lavishly and meticulously spruced up by Donald Trump's renovation. Then under El Ad Properties, the building was divided, with the hotel remaining on the south side and the east and north wings converted into residential condominiums. Those renovations uncovered the glass ceiling of the Palm Court but retained some haughty caryatids on the west wall.

3. Sherry Netherland at 781 Fifth Avenue on the northeast corner at 59th Street
The 570-foot-high, 38-story building was the world's tallest apartment hotel when it was opened and all the floors above the 24th had only one apartment each. Because it was erected during Prohibition, the Sherry Netherland, developed by Louis Sherry and Lucius Boomer, did not have major dining facilities, although its basement was converted in the 1970s to a very exclusive private disco and restaurant known as Raffles. The base of the hotel is the most elegant and wonderful in the city because of its travertine marble facing and, most particularly, its fantastic griffins with hanging lanterns. One of the great joys of life must be a walk around the tiny parapet at the base of the hotel's crowning fleche.

4 . The Ardsley at 320 Central Park West
One of Manhattan's most important Art Deco residential buildings, the Ardsley was designed by Emery Roth, the architect who also designed such famous Central Park West landmarks as the San Remo, Beresford and El Dorado apartment towers. In his superb book, "Mansions in the Clouds, The Skyscraper Palazzi of Emery Roth," Steven Ruttenbaum noted that "this 22-story structure is dramatically different from every other Roth building that came before it, for there is no trace of historical styling in its rectilinear lines.…Contrasting with its buff brick wall surfaces are vertical bands of black brick that sweep up the facades, imparting an upward thrust to the composition.”

5. The Dakota at 1 West 72nd Street
The city's most legendary apartment building, the Dakota is a massive, fortress-like building with a large center courtyard and very large apartments with very high ceilings. With an impressive, arched entrance with sentry box flanked by large planters, the buff-colored building is surrounded by a very attractive and dramatic low cast-iron fence with dragons in front of a "dry moat." The four corners of the courtyard, which has a fountain, lead to separate lobbies. The building exudes solidity since its bottom walls are 28 inches thick. When it was built in 1884, it towered over the Upper West Side and was an immediate success, with all its apartments rented on opening day.

6. The Dorilton at 171 West 71st Street on the northeast corner at Broadway
This flamboyant building is one of the city's most architecturally spectacular. It boasts the city's most attractive entrance gate surmounted by two putti, balustraded continuous balconies on the fourth and tenth floors, with marvelous sculptures supporting the balconies and a three story copper and slate mansard roof. Two lovely and voluptuous statues of classical maidens are perched on the fourth floor on Broadway, frolicking, at this enriching edifice whose gaiety Paris would love to have.

7. The Gainsborough at 222 Central Park South
The city's best "studio" apartment building, this slender, 16-story building between 7th Avenue and Broadway was completed in 1905. The building's façade is dominated by the huge, double-story windows, each of which has a small, attractive, pediment-topped doorway with decorative lattice-like masonry at the base. It originally had curved, iron balconies that are now missing, and that gave the facade an almost Venetian look.

8. New York by Gehry at 8 Spruce Street
            This skyline-changing tower of rippling stainless-steel turns its nose up at conventional straight-edge verticality. Its silvery facades dance merrily above City Hall as form manipulator Frank O. Gehry demonstrates once again that architecture has stepped out of the box: sparkle trumps bronze and complexity and surprise reign over simple modernism.

9. 40 Bond Street
This relatively modest condominium apartment project east in NoHo was one of the city's most eagerly awaited new residential projects in 2005 because its developers had commissioned Herzog & de Meuron, the architectural firm famous for its design of the Tate Modern Museum in London and the Olympic stadium in Beijing. Herzog & de Meuron delivered the goods with a stunning re-interpretation of the traditional, low-rise commercial loft buildings of SoHo that substituted a dark-green glass for cast-iron. The design was also highlighted by a large white "scrawl" fence whose organic form contrasted dramatically with the building's fine glass grid. Architect Jacques Herzog said that “we tested different things and most of them looked too traditional but we then came up with the idea of something very chaotic which we thought could be seen as coming from urban street culture, where graffiti is part of the landscape.”

10. Trump Tower, 721 Fifth Avenue
This dark bronze-colored, mixed-use tower is notable for its lavish atrium with tall waterfall and its excellent stepped plan that creates an interesting form even with a flat roof. Despite some glitz, this mixed-use tower’s swagger is tempered by the landscaped terraces at its corner that host carolers at holiday time, a very suave/charming touch for Donald Trump, the developer, who would follow this with other very smooth and handsome dark glass towers.

About Carter B. Horsley
Mr. Horsley, editor of CityRealty, writes “Carter’s View on Manhattan Real Estate” and his popular “CityRealty’s Top 10 Lists.” Prior to joining the online real estate and apartment search site, he spent 26 years writing for The New York Times as a real estate and architecture news reporter. In addition, he produced the syndicated radio program, “The Front Page of Tomorrow’s New York Times,” which was a WQXR standard. He later served as real estate editor and architectural critic for The New York Post and International Herald Tribune.

About CityRealty is a New York City apartment search and real estate site established in 1994. CityRealty streamlines the apartment search process by matching buyers and renters with qualified real estate agents who are screened for market knowledge, expertise, professionalism and client compatibility. Additional information about CityRealty is available at or by calling (212) 755-5544.

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