Credit: Jason Schmidt
Gracie Square Maisonette, New York
Co-op buildings in Manhattan are rarely known for their intriguing doorways, but this entrance is a glowing exception. Like any good front door, it fulfills its obligations as an accessible entry and exit, and reliable barrier. While these simple attributes are key, a door isn’t normally required to be a head-turner.
Yet as doors go, this one’s a babe. Its scarlet color stands out on the streetscape, and the original 1929 Art Deco grillwork (by famed muralist Arthur Watkins Crisp, who developed the property with architects Rosario Candela and George B. Post and Sons) is a beautiful historic flourish that evokes the past with a kind of quiet bravado.
Granted, finding an antique door with its original details intact—let alone one that fits the specs for any given project—usually isn’t a viable option. But this door offers inspiration. The unlikely pop of color contrasts with the building’s neutral, cast-concrete façade, boldly announcing itself as the entryway. The fanciful iron grillwork reads “No. 5,” the original address. (Restorers say the grille was probably originally plated with copper or brass, and then silver.) Not just a delightful embellishment, it affords privacy and security, and it lets light in, too. The door has a twin that leads to another apartment; together they flank the building’s main entrance.
Surprisingly, the apartment that’s behind the door is as streamlined as its grillwork is elaborate. Inside are white walls, modern art, and mid-century furnishings. Yet the apartment’s owners treasure their stylish entrance. “It connects us to the history of the building and the creative talents of its original design team,” they say. A bright spot on a sedate Upper East Side side street, the door also offers its owners direct access to the street—another New York rarity.