By Carter Horsley
If wood-burning fireplaces at the ne plus ultra of apartment living, screening rooms come in a close second even if they are usually a communal facility. Screening rooms imply a larger audience or party than mere “home theater” cheese-dip nights.
1. 15 Central Park West
The design of this full-block, two-building complex is certainly Robert A. M. Stern’s greatest Post-Modern achievement as this is the best “new” pre-war building in town, and most successful. It abounds in fine details and subtle touches and the asymmetrical top of the tall tower is a very fine skyline addition. One tower is 20 stories and the other is 43 stories. The apartments have wood-burning fireplaces, and residents have a private dining room and a private screening room designed by Theo Kalomirakis among many other amenities.
2. Cipriani Club Residences at 55 Wall Street
This imposing edifice with its multi-columned façade is one of Lower Manhattan’s most important official landmarks. It opened in 1842 as the Merchant Exchange and became home to the New York Stock Exchange until 1854 and then served as the Custom House from 1862 to 1907 when it was acquired by the National City Bank Corporation for its headquarters. The bank, a predecessor firm of Citigroup, hired McKim, Mead & White to expand the building. The expansion added four floors and a second colonnade to its Wall Street façade. The building’s enormous, 12,000 s/f banking hall was designed in classical Roman style with a 60-foot-high ceiling. Eventually, the Cipriani family operated the hall and a restaurant and then became partners with Sidney Kimmel and Steve Witkoff in converting the building into 106 furnished apartments. The building’s amenities include a very handsome and large library, private dining rooms, a spa, a rooftop garden and a state-of-the-art screening room.
3. 15 Broad Street
Directly across Wall Street from the Federal Hall National Memorial and directly across Broad Street from the New York Stock Exchange, this conversion project of two commercial structures to condominium apartments and retail spaces has the most impressive Lower Manhattan location. It consists of a five-story building at 23 Wall Street that was the headquarters of J. P. Morgan’s banking operations and the 42-story office building that wraps around. In 2003, A. I. & Boymelgreen bought it and 15 Broad Street and announced plans to convert the buildings into 326 apartments. Philippe Starck, the flamboyant French architect stated that the project, which will have a bowling alley, basketball and squash courts, lap pool, a large roof garden, and a small theater, will embody “honesty, respect, tenderness, surrealism, poetry, surprise, vision- which have no value on the other side of the street.”
4. Truffles TriBeCa at 34 Desbrosses Street
This very large rental apartment building at 34 Desbrosses Street in TriBeCa was erected in 2009 and has 291 units. The project, which also fronts on West Street, has a large, cobblestone plaza between its two towers. The building was developed by the Jack Parker Corporation and has a roof garden and a spectacular residents’ lounge that has many amenities including a screening room.
5. William Beaver House
This dark gray, 47-story condominium apartment building in the Financial District is distinctive for its unusual façade that has many yellow bricks cascading, randomly, from its top. The building has 319 apartments and was developed by SDS Investments and Andre Balazs. Its many amenities include a lobby entrance with a see-through ceiling supporting a glass-encased, lighted outdoor Jacuzzi that is part of a second floor amenity center and a 30-person combined screening room and disco lounge with lavender chaise “cinema beds.”
6. Empire at 188 East 78th Street
This redevelopment of the former “Cottages” site with a 32-story apartment tower developed by Hartman Cox with SLC&E in 2000 includes a grand staircase from the marble lobby leading to the Empire Club designed by Birch Coffee Design Associates with a fitness center, children’s playhouse, a private dining room and a screening room.
7. Sheffield 57 at 322 West 57th Street
One of the city’s largest apartment buildings with about 845 units, the Sheffield at 322 West 57th Street, was erected as a rental apartment building in 1978 by Rose Associates. The 50-story, brown-brick building was sold in 2005 to Swig Burris Equities, YL Real Estate Developers and S & H Equities for $418 million for conversion to a condominium. Litigation bogged the conversion down and in 2009 Fortress Investment Group bought the complex for $20 million in a foreclosure proceeding and the number of apartments was reduced to about 600. In the process, the building lost its rooftop paddle-tennis court but still has a screening room and many other amenities.
8. Barbizon 63
This very handsome, neo-Gothic, 24-story building began as the Barbizon Hotel for Women n 1927 with about 700 very small rooms but some splendid meeting rooms at the top. Men were finally admitted as guests in 1981. In 2005, it was converted to about 65 condominium apartments and given a new name, Barbizon/63. Residents can use Club Salon, a private dining and reception area that can be catered by Feast & Fetes, operated by Daniel Boulud. It also has a library, a 20-seat screening room and a Bergdorf Goodman private shopping service.
9. 37 Wall Street
This 25-story building was erected in 1907 as an office building for The Trust Company of America and was converted to a rental apartment building by Leonard Wilf in 2007. The handsome building has 372 apartments. Its former banking hall was leased to Tiffany’s, and the building’s many amenities include a screening room.
10. Wellington Tower at 350 East 82nd Street
While many new residential projects have a somewhat flimsy allure, this building, which was erected as a rental project in 1999, is one of the few whose “substance” seems quite real. It was converted to a condominium in 2005. The 151 apartments have very high ceilings and large windows whose white casements enliven the façades. The building’s amenities include a health club with pool, gas-burning fireplaces, and a tenants’ cinema.
Carter Horsley is the editorial director of CityRealty.com and the former real estate editor and architecture critic of the New York Post. Previously, he was a reporter for the New York Times and architecture critic for the International Herald Tribune.