June 28, 2017

Love Architecture? Learn About New York City's Midcentury Modern Gems

Diane Pham, the editor in chief of 6sqft, CityRealty.com's NYC real estate and architecture blog, brings us four of New York City's most beautiful, forgotten and hidden architectural gems.

by New York Spaces

NYC's 'Hidden' Midcentury Modern Homes
By Diane Pham

The Guggenheim, the MoMA, the Highline, and the Chrysler Building: there is no question New York City is steeped in modern architectural grandeur. But real design enthusiasts know that the city's rarest, brightest gems are the ones that can't be found in a guidebook. Tread a little off the beaten path and you'll find unique buildings that show just how much exciting design New York has to offer. Here are just four Midcentury modern homes in Manhattan designed by some of architecture's most transformative names. Although you can't go inside these residences, you can enjoy their extraordinary exteriors from the street with ease.

Philip Johnson's House
Philip Johnson's Rockefeller Guest House.

Philip Johnson's Rockefeller Guest House
Philip Johnson is best known for his design of The Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, but few people know that New York City boasts its own version of the iconic construction. On East 52nd Street between Second and Third Avenues is the Rockefeller Guest House, a private residence commissioned in 1949 by Blanchette Ferry Hooker Rockefeller, wife of oil scion John D. Rockefeller III. Like the Glass House, The Rockefeller home uses steel frames and large panels of glass, but it gets a New York treatment with brick and wood to offer privacy from prying eyes.

The Halston House
The Halston House.

The Halston House
As far as seductive architecture goes, it doesn't get more sensual than the Halston House dreamt up by American architect Paul Rudolph. The Midcentury modern structure at 101 East 63rd Street was converted from a carriage house in 1966 for fashion designer Halston. Like its sleek and sophisticated exterior, the interior is modern and glamorous, with a double-height living room and a mezzanine extending over the edge of the space. Back in the day, the Halston House was known for hosting wild, drug-fueled parties with guests like Andy Warhol, Liza Minnelli, and Bianca Jagger.

Edward Durell Stone House
Edward Durell Stone House Via Stribling.

Edward Durell Stone House
In 1956, nearly 20 years after designing the Museum of Modern Art, Edward Durell Stone made headlines when he stripped the facade of a 19th-century Neo-Grec townhouse at 130 East 64th Street and replaced it with a bulging, patterned concrete grill. Although the building was loathed for decades by its prim and proper neighbors, the distaste eventually subsided and the home became both a designated landmark and a widely celebrated modernist icon.

William Lescaze House
William Lescaze House.

William Lescaze House
The William Lescaze House claims fame as New York City's first modernist residence. The property sits at 211 East 48th Street and was constructed in 1936 by Swiss-American architect William Lescaze for use as his home and office. While somewhat unremarkable in appearance by today's standards, what made the structure so cutting edge at the time was Lescaze's use of glass blocks, which had never before been used in NYC or anywhere in the United States.

Diane Pham is the editor in chief of 6sqft, CityRealty.com's NYC real estate and architecture blog.

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