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Film Details

COLOR, 24 MINUTES
YEAR PRODUCED: 2011
PRODUCER: Edgar B. Howard
DIRECTOR/EDITOR: Tom Piper

Robert A.M. Stern: 15 Central Park West and the History of the New York Apartment House

Summary

Explorations in 21st Century American Architecture Series

Even during the Great Recession of 2008, one new apartment house in New York City continued to set the bar for real-estate prices: 15 Central Park West.

Designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects, the lavish, limestone-clad structure from 61st to 62nd streets is arguably one of the most luxurious residential buildings to rise in the city in decades. Stern deliberately evokes the grand era of New York apartments designed in the 1920s and 1930s, especially the intricately planned architecture of Rosario Candela.

Stern, Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, with his own practice in New York, has written a series of books on the history of New York City architecture, in which the high-rise apartment house plays a prominent part.

In this film shot in High-Definition, Stern explains why apartment buildings of past decades appealed to so many affluent city dwellers and the lessons learned by examining the houses' design and construction.

Amenities of 15 Central Park West, such as 14-foot-high ceilings, a private dining room for the inhabitants, along with a library and other communal spaces represent a return to features of New York City's earliest apartment buildings dating to the 19th century.

Rounding out this exploration of the New York City apartment house are brief glimpses of certain modern residential towers in lower Manhattan designed by today's vanguard architects. In addition, Elizabeth Hawes, author of New York, New York: How the Apartment House Transformed the Life of the City (1869-1930)provides informative socio-cultural observations about this form of high-rise living.


Principal Funding provided by The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation