322 Central Park West

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322 Central Park West, New York City, NY

322 Central Park West
322CPW-NYC-Exterior.jpg

The Beaux-Arts 322 Central Park West
Building Information
Architect Blum Brothers
Number of Units 48
Number of Floors 16
Year Built 1925
Construction Method Concrete
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322 Central Park West, New York City, NY
Distance to Public Transit Less than one block
Region New York City
Municipality New York City
Zoning R10A
Title of Land Cooperative


Contents

Background

322 Central Park West is a beautiful Blum Brothers brick and block boutique building built before the war. There were a lot of "b"'s in the opening sentence but everything else about the building is class "A". It is an elegant pre-war building rising a modest 16 stories and housing only 48 larger-than-average apartments. Many are configured with maid's quarters, a reminder of days gone by.

Only three apartments per floor
George Blum and Edward Blum incorporated some very intricate architectural detail into this structure. different mixes of brickwork, limestone details, some fancy terracotta pieces, and mottled brick patterns in the main façade.

Built long before the automobile was prevalent, this structure does not have a parking garage, but with Central Park right across the street and public transit only a block away, residents even today, do not require the use of a car.

The neighborhood of the Upper West Side used to contain some of New York City's elaborate manor houses on their estates. Over time, the spaces between the major houses was filled in with smaller homes increasing the density and changing the character of the neighborhood.

Row housing eventually replaced most of the individual dwellings. Today, the streets of the Upper West Side are lined with taller condominiums and cooperatives, housing hundreds of families.


Location

322 Central Park West is across the street from Central Park, as the name in address suggests. Interestingly, the discreet canopied entrance is actually off West 92nd Street.

322 Central Park West entrance along West 92nd Street
Residents facing Central Park get a commanding view of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir and a further view across the park at the Museum Mile stretch of Fifth Avenue.

West 92nd Street itself is a west bound one-way street lined with trees. Restaurants line Columbus Avenue one long block away including numerous café's, bars, specialty shops, and grocery stores.

Several middle schools and public schools are within a quarter of a mile and there are a few eclectic academies covering theologies and the arts.

As for outdoor spaces, Central Park is of course right at hand, but down the block is another "green-space" gem, the Sol Bloom playground. It's an open area attached to the Goddard Riverside Community Center with basketball courts and other spaces. It was named for Sol Bloom, an American politician from New York who was a member of the U.S> House of Representatives from 1945 to 1949.[1]

Construction

The Blum Brothers, George and Edward, created some remarkable buildings using nonconformist styles and techniques. The Blum Brothers studied design at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and flew in the face of convention by emphasizing the texture and the masonry finishes rather than the usual ornamentation.

The [terracotta
and brickwork]]Elaborate terracotta flourishes adorn the exterior of 322 Central Park West and several shades of brown brick create patterns, some that seem random and others highlighting a change in theme or accenting a row of windows.

The three story limestone base seems almost imposing until the string-course at the fourth floor is reached and the warm shade of the brown brick patterns suddenly soothes the spectator. Quoins extend the height of the building, at first with lighter colored limestone corner blocks, and then into the brown, upper portion of the building using a lighter colored brick.

An amazingly intricate wide band-course follows the fourth floor string course but is not continuous resuming its run periodically after a few windows have interrupted its course. A similar wide strip runs an interrupted course along the 14th floor as well. Three sets of arched windows are framed from the 14th to the 16th floors giving the impression that they are all one. This interesting features draws the eyes upwards where attention is now given to the skilled workmanship of the carved stone and terracotta detailing.

True to form, the Blum Brothers always avoided the use of red brick which was the conventional product that most builders chose to get their designs approved by both financiers and the city.

In 2011, the elevators were upgraded from the original manually operated cabs to new electric ones. However, the interiors of the new cabs were lined with the wood panels of the old elevators, maintaining the pre-war sense.[2]


Layout and Features

A typical floor plate within 322 Central Park West
The Blum Brothers crafted this structure to have only three apartments per floor. This allowed lots of space for the tenants of the time and the owners of today.

Although there is no roof top deck, residents are treated to a daily view of Central Park the year round. It became a cooperative fairly early on in 1962 and over the years residents have performed numerous upgrades.

The lobby is attended around the clock with a concierge and a doorman. There is storage in the basement for residents and there is an added bike room and a small exercise room.[3]


Floor Plans

There are six published floor plans. Some are shown here:


Amenities

  • Attended Lobby
  • Elevator Man
  • Doorman
  • Wood Burning Fireplaces
  • Basement Storage
  • Retro-Finished Elevator
  • Fine Central Park Views
  • Only Three Apartments per Floor

CONS

  • Protruding air conditioners
  • No garage
  • No sundeck
  • Step-down lobby[4]

Bylaws

322 Central Park West Bylaws
Rentals No
Pets Yes
Age No
Barbecues No



  • Pets are permitted
  • No record of rentals exists

Sustainability

No specific measures were taken towards a "green" or sustainable existence when this building was built.

However, over the years, residents themselves have made upgrades to their apartments through renovations and the installation of energy conscious appliances and fixtures. Of course, this has been guided by changes in building codes and environmental bylaws enacted by the city which all builders and manufacturers must now conform to.

Plumbing and electrical upgrades have taken place designed to conserve natural resources such as electricity and water.

Easy access to public transportation helps residents lessen their impact on the environment.


Trivia

Some of the detail work of the Adlon
The Blum Brothers were an unconventional architectural team. They were noted for their "speculative Architecture", an area most designers did not want to venture for fear that their projects would not gain approval. Despite flaunting normal convention, the Blum Brothers used their education from Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris to ultimately create about 120 buildings in New York City over the course of their careers.

In 1978, in an interview with Albert Mayer, a colleague of the Blums, Mayer said that George was the brother with the business mind whereas Edward was the flighty one, who created most of the designs.

The brothers gave their designs more interest with experiments in textures and colors. They combined multiple colors of bricks into a tapestry upon the facade and embellished the buildings with mosaic tile and intricate terracotta work. Decorative brick work included complex arrangements of bricks to form chevrons and diagonals. They considered the surfaces of their designs to be canvases where the actual textures and colors of the masonry work was the feature in favor of the traditional adornment through ornamentation.

Some of the Blum Brothers creations are Gramercy House, 1212 Fifth Avenue, and the Adlon. Sadly, Edward lost most of his sight in an accident in 1930.[5]

References

  1. Wikipedia - Sol Bloom
  2. NY Times - "Crowning Achievements for Two Brother-Architects"
  3. Street Easy
  4. City Realty
  5. Christopher Gray - Streetscapes


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