Stern 1; Nouvel et al. 0

Great article by Vivian Toy in last week’s Times on the economic value of celebrity architects in New York. It turns out that many of the striking—and strikingly expensive to build—condominiums completed in the last 5 years have failed to deliver on the economic front. Units in buildings such as Jean Nouvel’s 100 11th Avenue, Enrique Norten’s One York, and Richard Meier’s173 Perry Street inBrooklyn, have either been slow to sell, or have sold at greatly discounted prices.  During the housing boom, developers convinced themselves that having a name architect attached to their projects was worth the extra cost and added real value. Now, Toy argues, that assumption seems in question. Homes are not like designer jeans. An industry executive is quoted as saying that well-heeled buyers “aren’t looking to be sold a lifestyle, they’re looking to have their lifestyle understood and respected.” Perhaps that is why a notable exception cited in the article is 15 Central Park West, designed by Robert A. M. Stern, which has continued to set sales records. Not so much a question of tradition vs. modernity, but of understanding a market and delivering value. It reminds me of something an old schoolmate told me after he had been in practice some years: “I’ve learnt that not every building I design has to please me.”

100 11th Avenue

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