Philip Birnbaum avoided as much publicity as he could throughout his entire career. Most people are familiar with his buildings, but are unaware of the architect behind the design.
Developers appreciated the efficiency of his designs, he didn't waste any space. He claimed that the rooftop pool was his innovation, and it came from the idea that we have all this area on the roof, it might as well become an occupied space that can be put to good use.
Birnbaum grew up in Washington Heights, and earned his architectural degree at Columbia University. He was accepted into Princeton, but was discouraged when he was told not to go because of someone's personal opinion that he wouldn't fit in.
After World War II, the building boom worked in his favor. Many of his projects were developed by Alfred L. Kaskel.
His architectural style had some distinguishing features. Plain materials and unexciting compositions worked in favor of the Developers. This set him apart from other architects who wanted their buildings to be detailed, intricate, and expensive.
Costas Kondylis worked as an architect at Birnbaum's firm. Since launching his own firm, he has followed in Birnbaum's footsteps and is referred to as a "developer's architect" for his practical yet boring designs. 
Buildings by Philip Birnbaum
Galleria, 117 East 57th Street, New York City
Galleria was originally intended for office and commercial space. But when the office space market took a downturn, the developers were forced to rethink the project. The penthouse was bought by David Copperfield, a famous magician, in 1997.
The building contains 253 units as well as eight levels of commercial space. The apartments have wood floors and dramatic windows. The bathrooms are finished with white marble and the kitchens have granite, limestone or marble counter tops accompanied with wooden cabinets.
Its most defining features is the eight story atrium space. It also features a private residential lobby. Other features and amenities include valet service, a fitness center, pool, dry cleaning and maid services.
East River House, 505 East 79th Street, New York City
East River House opened in 1963 as an apartment building and since then had been converted into luxury condos.
There are 206 units which have all received upgrades of the refrigerators, counter tops, blinds, tv and the "free gas" feature has been removed. 44 different floor plans exist, giving buyers a lot of options.
Amenities include parking, doorman services, laundry and in suite superintendents.
Victoria, 7 East 14th Street, New York City
Victoria was completed in 1966 and contains 494 apartment units. The units have been renovated since the original completion. There used to be a back yard garden meant to encourage residence to grow their own vegetables during the war. Unfortunately, the garden was destroyed in 1928 due to subway construction.
It is described as a 'Full Service' residential building. Some of the features are an in-house valet, and a 24 hour doorman. There are also washers and dryers in the building.
Bristol Plaza, 200-210 East 65th Street, New York City, NY
Bristol Plaza was originally called the Milro tower. It is featured in "Top 10 Condos, Third Avenue, Upper East Side"
Of the 308 apartments, there are one to three bedroom suites alongside penthouses. On the 49th floor, there is A famous eleven room suite undergo a $12 million renovation. The suites have high ceilings and options including fireplaces, bay windows and marble bathrooms.
Some amenities include a 50 foot swimming pool, fully landscaped roof deck, children's playroom, massage services, dinner services and maid and linen services.
Park 900, 900 Park Avenue, New York City, NY
There are 122 units ranging from studios to three bedrooms. The interior has most likely been renovated by previous owners, so the finishes may vary.
Amenities include a 24 hour doorman, bike and health room, central air conditioning, a restaurant, banquet room, and maid services.