New York Daily Photo Analytics

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Roof Gem

Having tremendous wealth does confer great privileges - an ability to indulge in a lifestyle all but inconceivable to most. NYC is no different except in the types of privileges it confers. Like being able to own an entire building for sole occupancy. This is common for most non-urban dwellers, but in New York, even tremendous money usually means just a much bigger and fancier apartment.
Of course once the bar has been raised and you are in rarefied territory, there is still competition for premium properties. You may have the resources to buy anything, however the type of property you want may not be available. Many superstars have been rejected from coop boards. Even the mega rich have frustration and disappointment.
This brings us to 440 West 14th Street in the meatpacking district. I love the anomalies of the city, so the glass structure atop this building immediately caught my eye. Click here for photo showing view of structure set against surroundings. A little digging revealed that this 25,000 square foot historic building was purchased by Diane von Furstenberg in 2004 after sale of her properties in the West Village. According to the Villager:
" von Furstenberg unloaded her three-story 1850s former stable and blacksmith’s shop at W. 12th St. — which served as her store, studio and pied-a-terre — to a 19-year-old Russian heiress, Anna Anismova, in September. She garnered a reported $20 million in the deal, more than three times what she paid for the property seven years ago."
The building was was originally built by the estate of John Jacob Astor in 1887 as workers’ living quarters for the nearby piers. It was occupied for 50 years by the Gachot & Gachot meatpacking company.
The glass prism like roof structure provides illumination for von Furstenberg's penthouse/design studio - the structure is modeled after a piece of jewelry she designed for jeweler H. Stern. The building itself, which she restored to its former 19th century appearance, will be used for manufacturing and commercial use. It is very atypical these days to see a conversion to non-residential use. Approval of the design was quickly had - most applauded and welcomed the restoration. Some, of course, disliked the prominence of rooftop prism.
Perhaps the adage "you can't always get what you want" does more to comfort those that have less by distracting us from the fact that those with wealth and/or power do often get what they want - it does appear that Diane got what she wanted here ...

1 comment:

Lucy said...

I'm glad she did something interesting and creative that added architectural value to the neighborhood. That area used to be pretty grim, but now seems like a slice of some European city, similar to the West Village. I have read about her life story, and it is amazing how much of her success is very much self made (tho she had excellent and far flung social connections which count for a lot in fashion and NYC as you know)...