310 Riverside Drive, New York City, NY
310 Riverside in the 1980s
|Architect||Harvey Wiley Corbett|
|Management Company||Time Equities|
|Number of Units||335|
|Number of Floors||29|
|Type of Roof||IRMA|
|310 Riverside Drive, New York City, NY|
|Distance to Public Transit||Sixteen nearby routes|
|Region||New York City|
|Municipality||New York City|
|Title of Land||Cooperative|
The Master wouldn't exist without Russian philosopher Nicholas Roerich. Born 1874 in Russia, Roerich quickly gained world-wide acclaim as a thinker, a writer, and a painter. In 1918, when Lenin and the Bolshevik Party took power in Russia, Roerich, an outspoken critic of Lenin, left for Finland, then London.
An exhibit of Roerich's work at the Chicago Art Institute solidified the artist's fame in the United States, and he and his wife moved to and lived in New York throughout the early 1920s. During that time, Roerich maintained a pen pal relationship with H.G. Wells, became friends with famous soprano Mary Garden, and founded institutions throughout the States that aimed to bring artists together in civic activism.
A large percentage of the painter's extraordinary output -- Roerich had produced over 3,000 paintings by 1928 -- was housed in a mansion at 310 Riverside Drive, and overseen by Louis Horch, who financially backed much of Roerich's work.
In 1928, the mansion was torn down. Far from being the end of the Roerich Museum, however, this was an expansion, as Harvey Wiley Corbett designed the massive skyscraper specifically as the new home of the Roerich Museum. The bottom three floors of the building were solely for the museum, and contained exhibition halls, conference rooms, galleries, and other areas specifically for the exhibition and discussion of Roerich's work. Roerich himself maintained an apartment in the building, but spent most of his time in India seeking spiritual wisdom.
In October 1929, the Master Apartments opened, and the stock market crashed. Horch was able to keep possession of the building, but his once-devoted relationship with Roerich grew strained, and in 1938 he converted the one-artist museum into a museum dedicated to modern art and sculpture, which he named the Riverside Museum. Roerich passed away in 1947. Horch owned the building as late as 1971, until it was sold and used as traditional rental housing.
The building was converted to a cooperative in 1988.
The Master is just off of Riverside Drive, next to the 105th Street Dog Run, a particularly wide section of Riverside Park which is also home to a basketball court. Riverside Drive is a highly scenic area of Manhattan which is home to some particularly coveted buildings. Home to fictional characters including You've Got Mail's Joe Fox, played by Tom Hanks, and Mad Men's Freddy Rumsen, as well as real-life residents like George Gershwin, Hannah Arendt, and J. Robert Oppenheimer, Riverside Drive is one of New York's best-known areas. 105th Street at Riverside Drive is a designated Historic District of primarily Beaux-Arts style townhouses constructed near the start of the 20th century.
At the north end of the Upper West Side, with Columbia University just up the street, The Master's neighborhood is generally characterized as an upscale area with an intellectual and artistic demographic. Though its development had lagged somewhat behind in post-WWII times, the influx of college graduates through the 1970s contributed to the area's gentrification, and it became a site of increasing affluence from then on.
While the area is primarily residential, ample business exist to serve the area's eclectic residents. Restaurants range from the expensive, Zagat-rated likes of the Smoke Jazz Club and Toast to diners and Subways, and schools range from public to top-rated, unique private schools like Mott Hall II Middle School.
Construction began in 1928. The original plan for the building was to have a massive stupa -- a Buddhist shrine consisting of a staggered pyramid topped by a spire -- atop a 24-story building. Midway through construction, however, developers decided to abandon the stupa in favor of additional stories.
When construction was completed in 1929, the building was the first skyscraper in New York City with corner windows, but had passed on its chance to exhibit New York's first stupa, a title which remains unclaimed to this day. Owners certainly benefited from the choice to go without the stupa. In its place, five floors of saleable apartments had been added to the building.
Layout and Features
The Master is a pre-war high rise, a single massive building which contains 335 units in 29 floors. An important landmark in New York Art Deco architecture, the building was considered from the beginning to be one of the most eye-catching parts of the area's skyline, and to this day it creates a break in the uniform height of the surrounding buildings, rising several stories above its neighbors. The building was designed with careful color grading from a dark base to a light top, a celebrated idea that has been credited to Roerich himself. However, wind-borne soot has greatly reduced the visual impact of this choice.
The building is a product of its time, with relatively small apartments, no health club, no sun deck, and no garage. It has, however, been renovated to offer storage areas, a bike room, and a new, large laundry facility. The hallways have also recently been remodeled for a more modern feel. The building's auditorium is still in use, though it is currently occupied full-time by Zoe Ministries.
Upper apartment residents enjoy excellent views of the city, the Hudson River, and Riverside Park from the tall building, and many units take advantage of this, offering landscaped terraces.
Residents also benefit from the services of a full-time concierge, a maintenance staff which includes maid service, and an onsite management office.
Here are a few of the Master's floor plans.
- 24-hour concierge
- Bike room
- High-speed Internet
- Laundry room
- Live-in superintendent
- Maid service
- Outdoor space
- Package room
- Private storage
- Pets are allowed on a case-by-case basis. The building's website offers the full text of its dog policy.
- Pied-a-terre and subletting allowed.
- The building has no age restrictions.
The Master, designed before widespread environmental concern, has never been a green building, and is not currently LEED certified.
- In the all-black cornerstone of the building, Roerich hid a precious treasure which purportedly remains there until this day. The stone is said to contain a casket which holds a small stone. Roerich believed the stone to be a piece of Jacob's Pillow, also known as the Stone of Destiny or the Stone of Scone, a block of sandstone which was used in the coronation of Scottish and English monarchs up until 1953, when it was last used during Elizabeth II's coronation. The Stone is believed by some to have its origins in biblical times, a story which gives it the name of Jacob's Pillow. In the legend, the Israliete patriarch Jacob has a divine vision while using the stone as a pillow, and subsequently consecrated the stone to God. Scottish legends linking the stone of the Bible to their Stone of Scone claimed that the prophet Jeremiah had brought Jacob's Pillow to Ireland, and it was then taken to Scotland. Apparently, Roerich was not the only one to perceive value in the stone. A mysterious murder, which occurred in the boiler room of the Master, is believed to be the result of an attempt to steal Jacob's Pillow from the cornerstone.
- Harvey Wiley Corbett, the designer of the Master Building, also designed the Peace Arch at the British Columbia/Washington border in 1921.
- The Roerich Museum, the original 310 Riverside Drive, was at the time of its building the only United States museum that exclusively contained works by one artist.
- The Master is home to Dissent Magazine, a political quarterly publication that describes itself as "a beacon of radical intelligence" that is "dedicated to publishing the most creative thought on the Left."
- The Master has so may artistic residents that the building's website held a contest to design their banner which was only open to those currently living in the building. The contest welcomed drawings, photographs, paintings, collages, and anything else residents had to offer, with a winner announced June 28th, 2013.
- Famous former residents include Nobel Laureate writer Elie Wiesel, existential psychologist Rollo May, singer and civil rights activist Lena Horne, and conductor Yehudi Menuhin.
- In 1961, the Master's 300-seat ground-floor theater was used by the Equity Library Theater, a non-profit organization founded by Sam Jaffe with the intent of showcasing artists who could not afford to be involved in commercial theatre. Actors who performed at the ELT while it was at the Master include budding stars like Treat Williams, Hector Elizondo, James Earl Jones, and Eartha Kitt.
- Zoe Ministries, which currently inhabits the Master's auditorium, is the brainchild of "prosperity preacher" E. Bernard Jordan, a pastor who teaches that God wishes riches upon good Christians and that monetary contributions by others to Zoe Ministries will confer spiritual favor upon the benefactor. The auditorium is sometimes visited by Al Sharpton, a friend of Jordan. Jordan was also the spiritual mentor of Run-D.M.C. frontman and rapper Joseph Simmons.
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