About The Strand, 500 West 43rd Street
The rigidity of the grid pattern of streets in midtown Manhattan has often been hailed as one of its most salient and important virtues as it creates open vistas, helps traffic and is good orientation.
Conformity with the grid led to a building pattern that held to the street line creating parallel lines of building walls. This uniformity of building convention has given the city a consistency that often disguises less than distinguished architecture.
In recent years, the notion of context as a guiding principle of urban architecture has been virtually paramount in planners' and civic activists' minds.
There have been very few exceptions.
One was the mixed-use tower on the southeast corner of Park Avenue and 34th Street, a project that combines a school with an office building.
Another is The Strand.
The axis of this building is at a 45-degree angle with the corner and such deviations work best at corners rather than disrupting midblocks with irregular shaped plazas. One could, in fact, argue with considerable power, that corner plazas make a great deal of sense for rushed pedestrians, but the notion has not stirred much excitement.
By twisting the 311-unit, 42-story, condominium tower, which is essentially freestanding, on its site, the apartments offer unusual views for the residents, always an important feature.
The design by Costas Kondylis of Philip Birnbaum Associates is one of the prolific firm's best as its corners' indentations afford many corner windows, again always an important feature for residents. The proportions of the tower are very fine and the relatively simple red-brick fa?ades are made interesting by the indentations, much like a faceted jewel although this is not a reflective-glass building.
The peak of the tower is a pyramid-like top that is, again, very handsomely and gracefully designed. The tower is clad in bands of peach, red and beige brick and there is a pergola.