More Time with Norman, Please: Foster + Partners’ New Manhattan Tower Fails To Impress

East, Unveiled
Thursday, September 26, 2013
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Rendering showing facade detail of Norman Foster's 551 West 21 Street. (Hayes Davidson /  Courtesy Foster + Partners)

Rendering showing facade detail of Norman Foster’s 551 West 21 Street. (Hayes Davidson / Courtesy Foster + Partners)

Foster + Partners likes to think of itself as a high-design firm with glamorous projects all over the world. But the banal rendering accompanying this week’s announcement of a new 19-story, “luxury” residential tower, 551 West 21 Street, belies their design skills. Could it be that they have a two-tier design strategy in their office where glamorous cultural institutions get “Sir Norman” and commercial towers get, well, something less?

Rendering showing facade detail of Norman Foster's 551 West 21 Street. (Hayes Davidson /  Courtesy Foster + Partners)

Rendering showing facade detail of Norman Foster’s 551 West 21 Street. (Hayes Davidson / Courtesy Foster + Partners)

The building’s press release states that it “marries the timeless elegance… of classic Park Avenue apartment buildings with the excitement and energy of West Chelsea” and “has a robust, cast-concrete exterior that frames expansive windows with warm metal surrounds.” It goes on about luxury finishes and unimaginable penthouse views, but really, the client, SR Capital, needs to spend some more time with Sir Norman.

Only one rendering showing a facade detail has been released, but Foster + Partners is expected to reveal more soon. The building is expected to be complete in summer of 2015.

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