Project DescriptionThis mixed-use, 100-unit condominium located at 455 Central Park West combines a new 27-story tower with the adaptive reuse of a historically significant landmark. Designed by Charles Coolidge Haight and built by John Jacob Astor in 1884, 455 Central Park West is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was originally built as the first cancer hospital in America, later converted to a nursing home and eventually vacated in the early 1970s.
Over the years the once majestic structure had fallen into an advanced state of decay. Much of the stonework was displaced or eroded, the wood and slate roof was unsalvageable and had to be replaced in its entirety, and most of the windows and trim were missing. Internally, all of the original finishes and most of the floor structure were lost or damaged.
After years of design study, public approvals and construction bidding a comprehensive restoration of the exterior and gut renovation of the interior began in late 2001. Careful research and forensic analysis were required, with months of meticulous surveying leading to the cataloging and storage of many of the architectural features required for reinstallation or replication. An exhaustive evaluation of window materials and alternatives was also undertaken for the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. Internally, an entirely new concrete structure was inserted into the shell of the old building and new residential layouts were designed to take advantage of the unique geometries of the structure.
While the new tower contains the greater number of units, including 40 that were purchased by Columbia University for faculty housing, the landmark contains the most luxurious apartments. These spaces have been integrated into the fabric of the old building by taking full advantage of the richly proportioned spaces found within, and the interiors have been restored to the gracious opulence of the turn of the century.
The tower connects to the landmark at the base and was designed to blend with the old through the use of materials, proportion and fenestration details. RKTB was the architect of record for the project; Perkins Eastman Architects, P.C. was the associated architect and worked on the new tower.
455 Central Park West goes far beyond a conventional restoration. It was an extremely challenging project both technically and politically that took the better part of 25 years to be realized. It not only restored a significant historic building to its previous splendor but has proven to be a catalyst for the revitalization of the surrounding neighborhood.