Richard Meier in New York | The Plan
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Richard Meier in New York

Richard Meier & Partners Architects

The towers at the end of Perry Street, clad in glass and in white aluminium panels, are gentle sentinels on the western flank of Manhattan. They signal the rise, in New York, of contemporary architect-designed apartment buildings, a surprisingly recent phenomenon in this metropolis of disposable income and raw design ambition. And also a fresh new phase in the career of Richard Meier. Meier’s first major work in Manhattan, the Perry Street towers are a synthesis of sophisticated architecture, extraordinary site (panoramic views up and down the Hudson), and high-profile residents (gossip columns list Calvin Klein, Nicole Kidman and Martha Stewart as investors). These two towers have now been joined by a third Meier project, immediately to the south, at 165 Charles Street.
With one open-shell apartment per floor, the Perry Street towers are not identical. The north building is slimmer, due to site configurations, whereas the south building expands parallel to the river. The new tower at 165 Charles Street is physically isolated from its neighbours to the east and rear, yet it responds formally to context with a splayed, mask-like façade parallel to the river and the interstitial West Side Highway. From the Highway, from the grassy promenade of Hudson River Park, or from New Jersey on the far shore, the trio of Meier buildings appear as luminous beacons. The architect’s forte is his exploration of geometry and his adaptation of Modernism to American construction techniques and lifestyles. In New York, all three towers are essays in rectilinear abstraction and the coordination of window and frame to symbolic effect. Following the bipartite interior, the great canted screen of 165 Charles is split to either side of a central spine; then floats free at both ends to suggest infinite space.
Sixteen storeys high, all three towers are comparatively small, even for this mid-rise section of the city between the behemoths of the Empire State and Rockefeller Center in...

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