SOM in the Press

The Bloomingdale’s of Apartment Buildings—Manhattan House Conversion Draws to a Close

Photo © Hedrich Blessing | M3

Source: Observer

When Robert Kaswell first moved to New York, he lived in an apartment at 342 East 67th Street, and every time he walked to the subway he’d pass an eye-catching white-brick complex that spanned the entirety of East 66th Street between Second and Third Avenues. ...

Built in 1951 by New York Life Insurance Company on the site of a former horse car and trolley barn, and designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Mayer & Whittlesey, the complex might have been considered the height of sophistication—a sleek and elegant construction despite its clodhopper of a footprint—but as Carol Krinsky notes in her book on Gordon Bunshaft, it was decidedly not luxury. Legally, it couldn’t be, as insurance companies at the time were only allowed to invest in limited-revenue rentals, i.e. not luxury complexes. ...

“It was alluring because it represented modernity,” explained SOM partner Roger Duffy, who worked on Manhattan House’s renovation and helped O’Connor shepherd it through the landmarks process. “It had one continuous lobby and garden, which I think is part of the magic of the building, because there aren’t super-long hallways upstairs—it broke down the scale of tower living and created a sense of community.”

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