In the final decades of the 20th century, most new residential construction in this metropolis was architecturally bland and more or less anonymous. Very few of the world-renowned architects based here were actually building anything in their own city, least of all apartment towers. But an overblown real estate market, combined with architecture’s growing allure for the general public—especially for a stylish high-end clientele—has fueled the demand for celebrity-designed residential projects. And while brick- or stone-clad apartment structures have long been the norm in New York City, many recent buildings for the rich and hip have featured variations on the curtain wall, rapidly making glass the luxury material of choice.
One of the first architects in this new wave was Richard Meier, FAIA, with his twin apartment towers, 173/176 Perry Street [record, June 2000, page 42], completed along Manhattan’s downtown Hudson River waterfront in 2002. Soon after, another developer, Alexico Management Group, approached him to create a third tower—a potential fraternal triplet—at 165 Charles Street, just to the south of the original pair.
Given the parameters of the zoning envelope and the opportunity to form a compatible trio, the architect made the Charles Street tower 16 stories tall, rising the same height as its Perry Street neighbors. While the two earlier buildings offer no more than one apartment per floor, 165 Charles houses two on most floors, with a total of 31 units: eight two-bedrooms (convertible to three), four studios, a duplex penthouse, and four one-
bedroom units, two with double-height living rooms. The program also includes an 975-square-foot lobby, 1,670 square feet of retail space, a 650-square-foot gym, a 50-foot lap pool, a 35-seat screening room, a wine cellar (with individual temperature-controlled cabinets), and basement storage cages.
Inside 165 Charles, the units all have 11.6-foot-high ceilings, pure-white kitchens with solid-surface counters, and walls with 1⁄4-inch reveals, hovering above Wenge wood floors. Even the heating and air-conditioning vents appear minimally, as precise incisions set high in the walls or at the bases of the floor-to-ceiling windows. Kitchen islands, in most of the units, allow for free-flowing living and dining spaces. Everything is clean-lined—including the much-publicized 9-foot-high bathroom doors of translucent glass at $6,500 each—placing the focus on views out.