The iconic skyline of New York’s Manhattan is instantly recognisable around the world. A place of formative architectural innovation and groundbreaking design, the city’s landscape is pierced by skyscrapers as far as the eye can see. Many of Manhattan’s earliest skyscrapers were clad in stone, brick and moulded terracotta panels and as technology advanced, so too did the array of materials used to transform the city’s skyline. The enduring legacy of brick has remained a fixture of the city’s design ethos, however, and is currently experiencing something of a renaissance across facades of even the tallest buildings.
One of New York’s newest architectural statements, the towering 180 East 88th Street project by design and development firm DDG Partners, is a masterclass in classic materiality. Situated in Carnegie Hill on New York’s enviable Upper East Side, the approximately 160-metre-tall (about 154 feet) building draws upon the illustrious 20th century tradition of brick-clad skyscrapers in the North American metropolis, bringing to the neighbourhood a covetable condominium with views extending beyond Central Park.
180 East 88th in Carnegie Hill by DDG
The project’s lead architect and owner of DDG, Peter Guthrie, sought inspiration from the city’s architectural heritage when formulating the design for 180 East 88th. “We studied the history of the site from the geologic prehistoric bedrock to the Beaux Arts apartment houses on Park Avenue of the 1800s, and on to the golden age of skyscraper design in the 1930s,” Peter explains. “We juxtaposed the solidity of these apartment house typologies to the soaring aspirations for the New York skyscraper to find our design for a 21st century residential tower.”
The concrete structure – now the tallest on the Upper East Side – was cast in-situ with facades clad in brick on site. The entire northern wall features a vertical section of exposed concrete, crafted in a chevron pattern and leading to vertical stripes that signal the position of the penthouse. “Brick turned out to be the most economical facade system for this project,” admits Peter. But it was the tradition of the material and its relationship to New York’s architectural heritage that inspired its use. “The old-world character and essence of these bricks are so incredibly useful for our schemes where we are building in historic neighbourhoods.”
Paying homage to the masonry of 1920s-1940s architecture, the project references the art deco style of its location. The structure is visually separated into a base, middle and top arrangement, with the base housing two residential entrances and the main lobby entrance on 88th street, set back and accessed through a gated arch of decorative Petersen brick.
Inside, parabolic arches made of hand-troweled plaster with a lime-wash finish hint at the recurring architectural motif throughout the building. Further up, the ‘middle’ of the building houses a sky garden, articulated with two-storey cast-in-place concrete triumphal arches, acting as a belt-like structure and mirroring the arches throughout.
The 48 residences on offer range in size, from loft formats to five-bedroom offerings and gracious full-floor apartments. High ceilings throughout the build create a feeling of grandeur and speak to the pre-war aesthetic of the interiors. Custom-made wainscoting, wooden wall panelling and accents of travertine and brass craft a feeling of opulence and timeless elegance, in line with the project’s roots in art deco glamour and tradition.
Residents also have access to the incredible array of amenities, from a basketball court and indoor football pitch, to a playroom for younger children co-designed by the Children’s Museum of the Arts. “Handcrafted brick combined with a technologically state-of-the-art skyscraper may have seemed incongruous before we began this project,” Peter says. “But we could not be more pleased with the results,” he reveals. “We were able to design and execute the building perfectly, and it expresses our wish to connect to the past, while celebrating the future in an architecture that feels timeless.”
[The building] expresses our wish to connect to the past, while celebrating the future in an architecture that feels timeless.