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The Modern Estate
Sophistication, Style... and Sheep!

By Ruth J. Katz

Architect Peter Marino designed his amenity-laden Upper East Side condominium for those who hope for a tranquil life, even in Manhattan

Architech_Spring_07.jpg“One of my favorite things about this project,” observes Orin Wilf, president of Skyline Developers, LLC, the company responsible for the “project”—the supremely luxurious, Peter Marino–designed Manhattan high-rise now under construction at 170 East End Avenue—“is the quiet tempo of the neighborhood. Some people need action and activity … the hustle and bustle of midtown … but with Gracie Mansion and Carl Schurz Park right across the street, it’s easy to feel you’re living in the suburbs.”

Apparently there are a lot of like-minded people who are seeking to settle in this low-key, tranquil East Side neighborhood in the high eighties, with its new crowning jewel, the sumptuous, 20-story, stone-and-glass high-rise designed both inside and out by the world-renowned Marino. The original plans called for 110 units, with 61 three-bedroom and 17 four- and five-bedroom “couture homes”—suggesting that this would be a family building. However, many purchasers have bought two apartments and combined them, so now there are fewer than 90 units in the building; at press time, fewer than three dozen were still available for sale.

“While it’s true that we wanted to have plenty of apartments that were large enough for families, we also built one- and two-bedroom units, and at least 15 percent of our sales so far have been to empty-nesters and to people from Westchester and surrounding counties who want a pied-à-terre in a less frantic part of the city,” notes Wilf.

Less frantic, indeed. One might even call the building’s lavish entryway bucolic. At the far end of the lobby, which is awash in striated Italian marble, visitors can revel in the pastoral vista of a 5,000-plus-square-foot garden with a 20-foot-high waterfall against the back (western) wall. Adding to the garden’s idyllic feeling is a herd of grazing, cast-epoxy, stone-and-bronze sculptured sheep, by artists Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne. They are surrounded by graceful trees and an abundant, flowering ground cover, giving the garden a lush, serene feel.

Built on the site of the former Doctors Hospital, the building is Marino’s first residential condo, although the celebrated architect is well known for his private residences for boldface names in the fashion and entertainment industries and for commercial projects, including shops for Fendi, Armani, Valentino, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior, and, of course, the Barneys flagship store on Madison Avenue. “Peter had been approached many times to do a residential building, but he’s always been very careful about the projects he selects and the people with whom he works,” notes architect Craig Greenberg, an associate of the Peter Marino Architect firm and the lead designer on this project. “The client must be willing to work with him aesthetically and be committed to Peter’s level of excellence and quality. We met with Garden Homes [parent of Skyline] and trusted them, and we have not been disappointed.”

Purchasers of the condo units, which are averaging about $2,000 per square foot, will not be disappointed either. The building is amenity-laden, with “something for everyone,” as Wilf points out. There are painting and arts and crafts rooms for youngsters; a toddlers’ playroom; a homework station with computers for older kids; a game room that is this generation’s version of an old-time penny arcade (but with all the latest computer gizmos and games); a Wi-Fi lounge; a library; a kitchenette for entertaining; a golf simulator; a squash court; a gym/fitness center; a studio for Pilates, yoga, and dance; and a 40-seat screening room.

Among some of the gracious appointments in the private apartments are balconies, wood-burning fireplaces, and double-height ceilings (regularly 10 feet); there are even four duplex apartments and two maisonettes, each with its own street entrance. All boast the finest materials, including—for example—in the kitchen, oversize stone flooring, 1-inch-thick Swiss quartzite countertops, Sub-Zero refrigerators, Wolf stainless-steel cooktops, and Miele dishwashers. Master baths sport polished-to-perfection Italian marble slabs, cut to size to envelop the floors, walls, and tub; oversize “Tea for Two” soaking tubs; frameless, walk-in, rimless shower stalls; and two generous-sized, mirrored medicine cabinets.

Comments Greenberg, “It’s been so rewarding to see this building taking shape and to work on a project of this scale. Peter is a very hands-on architect, and he is very specific about details, like stone selection, stone patterns—all the materials, really—from the reception desk to the handrails on the stairs. Seeing it all come to life is extremely exciting.”

It will, most likely, be very exciting, too, for the residents, who will start to move in by the end of this summer. TME

Consumer and lifestyles reporter Ruth J. Katz, the author of five books, has written extensively for The New York Times and for more than 20 years has contributed regularly to New York magazine. She is the real estate columnist for New York Home and is a contributing editor to Golf Connoisseur.

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