This spring, a limited number of loft residences were unveiled at the highly anticipated 100 East 53rd Street tower in New York. Designed by Foster + Partners, the building sits between the Seagram Building and Lever House, adding to a suite of luxury buildings from Aby Rosen’s RFR Holding.
The 15 loft-style residences boast gallery-like open floorplans, floor-to-ceiling windows, urban views, fluted concrete ceilings, exposed columns, and diamond-polished concrete floors. They offer a total Downtown feel in the heart of Midtown. Currently, one of the loft residences houses 100 East 53rd Street’s sales gallery and is outfitted with contemporary work curated from Rosen’s own collection—including pieces by Jonas Wood, Andy Warhol, and Damien Hirst.
In the lobby, Rosen commissioned Rachel Feinstein to create Panorama of New York, inspired by her Panorama of Rome (2012). She collaged photos of the Woolworth building and the Empire State Building with drawn imagined scenes, all on a mirror, creating a fantasy dreamscape of the city.
In March, Whitewall sat down with Rosen in New York to hear more about his vision for 100 East 53rd Street.
WHITEWALL: What kind of tone you did you want to set for Midtown with 100 East 53rd Street? Was there a perception about the neighborhood that you wanted to change?
ABY ROSEN: If you hear “lofts,” you always think about downtown, Brooklyn, Queens. You don’t think about Midtown. When we had the opportunity to create a the base of the tower, I thought, “Why don’t we do something really different?” We went with the idea of creating big lofts with concrete ceilings and floors and a raw kind of feel.
The materials we chose for the bathroom and kitchen were warm and played with the cold perception of the concrete. It has a very New York feel—all about the street vibe and street feel.
Midtown is changing dramatically. People live in this neighborhood, they play in this neighborhood. There are hotels, restaurants, museums that are open seven days a week now. It’s changed, it’s not as dead as it used to be.
WW: You personally curated art from your collection to be in the sales room. What did you want to fill the space with?
AR: Art that is vibrant, young, fresh and enhances the space. I wanted to show what a person can do with the space. We didn’t furnish the space, we just furnished the kitchen and bathroom. You can live very minimally in a loft like this. We had some fun with it.
And the restaurant will have a private lounge for the residents of the building and a separate entrance and private dining room so they can go straight from the apartments and into the restaurant.
There’s very much a hotel kind of feel: you have the building, you have a restaurant, you have your apartment. You can say, “Send me up two burgers,” or “Hey, I’m having a party for 20, send something up.” It’s going to cost you an arm and a leg to get there, but at least you have the option to do that.
We also created a certain amount of counter space. Where previously it was only for cooking, now the counter is for you dining room so you can order and display food. A lot of people just order in something—they put it on the counter it’s sort of self serve. A dining room, sitting down for a four hour meal, it’s nice but it doesn’t really happen a lot.
WW: Can you tell us about the piece in the lobby you commissioned by Rachel Feinstein?
AR: Rachel is an old friend of mine who is a great artist. We had a show with her here at Lever House about 5-6 years ago. She does these mirror works of fantasy landscapes, some sort of secret gardens. She created this kind of a landscape environment that flows onto the mirror and the mirror floats in front of the marble wall of the entrance. It looks pretty cool and it’s very New York.
I think with a good artist, you don’t need to tell them too much. Just give them freedom. It’s supposed to calm you down when you walk in and energize you on the way out. It’s supposed to make you feel whole.
WW: Who do you ultimately see in 100 East 53rd Street?
AR: Local people who live downtown and want to move to midtown and people who live on the Upper East Side but don’t want to live downtown. The guy who is practical, and the guy who is into design and architecture. You’ve got to be a clean, modern thinker. You’ve got to love your surroundings, and you’ve got to love the energy and the bustle that goes on in this town.
I’m really proud of it. We worked hard to create something really special that lasts and won’t look trendy in five years. Contemporary tends to be wearing fast and, with the way we look at things today, fashion is out in a year.
We want modern, we want hip, we want cool, but we don’t want trendy. We want something that has longevity. It’s not glitzy, it’s not brassy, it’s cool materials that will never wear.