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An Architectural Do-Over - The New York Times

Category: Finance,Real Estate

When an architecture firm has been around as long as the 83-year-old Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, it may see some of its buildings receive landmark status, and it may also, on occasion, have to see some of its structures knocked down.

Such was the case with the 12-story Skidmore-designed former headquarters of the American Bible Society, at the southern end of the Upper West Side, which the nonprofit organization sold to the developer AvalonBay Communities in 2015 before relocating to Philadelphia.

Still, even when the building in question wasn’t universally admired to begin with — a Brutalist structure built in 1966, later compromised by an awkward glass addition on the front — the demolition of a “legacy” building, as architects call the works their firms have created, comes with a sting.

“That haunted us,” said Chris Cooper, a partner at the firm. “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t.”

It also spurred Skidmore to beat out competing architecture firms for a chance to design the replacement building on the northwest corner of Broadway and West 61st Street: a 32-story, 172-unit condo residence named Park Loggia whose units go on sale this month.

The building is not only a do-over, in a way, for the architects, it’s also a new direction for the Virginia-based developer, a public company that has made its name with rental apartments.

“It was such an amazing site it screamed out to be a condo development,” said Martin Piazzola, senior vice president of development, noting its proximity to Midtown, Central Park and Lincoln Center. Ceiling heights at Park Loggia are higher and finishes finer than the norm in AvalonBay properties.

The architects lined the new building up with Broadway and neighboring structures — one way it is an improvement over the previous building, which was angled away from the thoroughfare. It faces Robert A.M. Stern’s slightly taller 15 Central Park West, directly across the street, but stylistically goes in a more contemporary direction.

Mr. Cooper said the architects took inspiration from the Upper West Side’s grand masonry apartment houses, but translated those virtues in a “fresh way.” Champagne-colored glazed terra cotta clads the skinny 26-story tower and its 6-story base. Other nods to Upper West Side architecture include deep recesses for windows and a porte-cochere at the entrance on West 61st Street. That leads to a lobby, paneled in walnut, designed by Pembrooke & Ives, which was also responsible for the amenity spaces.

Most of those are on the 7th floor, where the building sets back, and include all the usual luxury bells and whistles (though in this case, with the building just south of Lincoln Center, the music studio and rehearsal rooms feel most contextual). A large terrace atop the podium will offer lounge and cookout areas.

The majority of the units are one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, with a sprinkling of studios and four-bedrooms. Prices run from around $1 million to over $10 million, with sales handled by Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group. All two- and three-bedroom apartments in the tower have loggias that contribute to the building’s name and provide views up and down Broadway.

The same architectural firm that designed the 1966 building for the American Bible Society has designed its replacement. CreditYana Paskova for The New York Times

At the top of the building, a triple-height loggia surrounds mechanical spaces, but there’s a perimeter walkway. On the West Side of the walkway the Hudson River can be spotted in between buildings, and on the east where the walkway expands into a lounge area there are partial views of Central Park.

At the base of the building, the Broadway frontage will be devoted to retail stores. Target has already signed on for 35,000 square feet, or half, of the retail space for what it calls a “small format” store. Home goods will be among its offerings — a boon to residents in the area, who have seen the closure on nearby blocks of Gracious Home and Lowe’s in recent years.

But the big question remains: Is this new Skidmore building better than the old one? Mr. Cooper, respectful as he is of Park Loggia’s predecessor, gave an unreserved “yes.”

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