The New Classics? Is the Glassy Luxury Condominium Out of Fashion?

Luxury Condominium NYC Central Park West 15Imagine walking through New York City in the 1920s. What was different? Well, cars rolled around on what looked like bike tires, women had just received the right to vote, prohibition was in effect, and it was notably harder to find a decent wi-fi signal. But while the Manhattan skyline was notably lower during the Coolidge Administration, the brick and limestone apartment buildings -- today's sought-after pre-war apartment buildings -- were then, and still are, high-style standouts. Which perhaps has something to do with why so many new construction Manhattan condominiums are opting for a look that hearkens back to Manhattan's architectural heyday. Yes, today's classic-style luxury condominiums tend offer all kinds of modern conveniences and luxuries -- the LEED-certified 456 West 19th Street, for instance, pairs classic lines with floor-to-ceiling windows. When it comes to Manhattan condominium aesthetics, though, everything old is seemingly new again.

While recent years have been marked by a boom in extra-glassy new construction luxury condominiums -- from the LEED-certified Lucida to the ultra-modern Nouvel -- the Wall Street Journal's Craig Karmin argues that the future may belong to pre-war condo conversions, and new construction condominiums made with pre-war looks in mind. Antique on the outside and fresh and modern on the inside, these blockbuster "new pre-war condominiums" have an appeal that's easy to understand. Pre-war condo conversions that still have that early 20th Century feel -- for instance, The Apthorp or 254 Park Avenue South, whose outside features the elegant details of the past, but whose apartments for sale would fit in fine at any new glass tower -- are the sort of paradox that New York condo buyers can get behind.

And then there are the luxury condominiums of more recent vintage, like Pritzker Prize-winning architect Robert A.M. Stern’s 15 Central Park West, that offer an early 20th-century look despite early 21st-century openings. There's more than one way to create a modern Manhattan luxury apartment, thankfully -- and more diversity in Manhattan apartment listings, aesthetic and otherwise, is always worth celebrating.

NYC Real Estate Blog

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