The evolution of culture and community directly affects a city’s architectural landscape, sometimes resulting in the loss of heritage and social glory. For Madison Square Park’s northern landmark district, once an entertainment and leisure hub adjacent to the Ladies’ Mile commercial region, converting historic buildings into office spaces impacted the neighborhood’s allure. However, with a new wave of residential opportunities flooding the district over the past 15 years, value was added to the park and its border buildings, including 241 Fifth Avenue. At the time of redevelopment, it was the only site in the district that New York City’s Landmark Preservation Committee approved for demolition. ODA was then tasked with creating a design that would serve as connective tissue between the low-rise buildings of yesteryear and modern high-rises that pepper the neighborhood.

Madison Square Park’s northern district is atypically flush with both low and high-rise buildings ranging from four floors to 30 stories. ODA posed the question, “How do we engage that dichotomy within a block that consists of such dichotomy?” The proposal was to create a building that completes the ascent of structures surrounding it and contributes to the expression of modern times in vast collections of architecture. 241 Fifth Avenue serves as a stepping stone in both stature and design: the bottom’s terracotta curtain wall represents the diminutive building to the south while the glass cube in the sky fills the vertical void left by its towering northern neighbor. And while the block is a summarized history featuring 1920s art deco design, Romanesque-type lofts, and townhouse-style low-rises, ODA echoed the depth of the windows that are common in each of these local typologies by inverting the idea of projected ornamentals and creating recesses. As a result, all windows along the curtain wall are recessed from the facade to create a face that is anything but flat. Atop this, the glass cube enjoys setback lines that give way to a terraced penthouse with far-reaching views.

Unlike other residential buildings to the north of Madison Square Park, 241 Fifth Avenue is not a big building conversion, and as such it offers more compact studio, one, and two-bedroom apartments that meet the needs of the city’s young community. ODA’s attention to historical progression and visual continuity has asserted 241 Fifth Avenue as a continuum of the diverse styles and opportunities that live in this vibrant neighborhood.

Location: 241 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, NY, USA

Client: Victor Homes

Size: 82000 SF

Team: Eran Chen, P. Christian Bailey, Ryoko Okada, Sunggu Lee, Cristobal Berino