173/176 Perry Street 
New York City
NY 10014
USA

Richard Meier & Partners 1999-2002

173 and 176 Perry Street are the first two built projects in Manhattan by long-time resident and member of the New York Five, Richard Meier. The 16-story towers stand at the edge of Greenwich Village, facing the Hudson River. The two buildings seem to be aesthetically driven by their location, and the views afforded to their residents. In this project, Meier used perimeter radiant heat in order to keep the floor-to-ceiling views unobstructed, and both towers have their concrete cores facing Manhattan rather than the Hudson for the same reason. Like so many of Meier's successful projects, these two towers have an obvious orientation landmark (in this case the river) without some of which Meier's residential projects seem lost and lacking in direction.

  

The two buildings feature many of Meierıs signature design cues, but primarily look like slight variations on a Mies solution for such a problem. The fact that the two towers face a major body of water perhaps further emphasizes the similarity. Location aside, one can't help but quickly see that Meierıs pendulum, which often swings between Corbusian and Miesian influences, took a decidedly Miesian swing in this case. The framing in the building's façade is Meierıs trademark white, which gives the buildings a distinctive appearance in the Manhattan skyline. As a result of the white framing, and Meier's understated touch, 173 and 176 Perry Street are decisively elegant though contrary to the materials used in surrounding structures. 

As refined and elegant as the towers are, they are not innovative in any way. This is an issue that many have had with Meier, who has always been more successful at repetition than innovation. The viewer can easily see that the buildings take only minimal steps to improve or refine design standards that are commonly found in buildings throughout the world, and thus Meier manages to inject only a small amount of his decisive style into the structures. As a result, what makes the towers particularly unusual in Manhattan is the fact that such buildings are rarely available in New York City as living spaces, not their design.

There has been opposition from long time Village residents and activists. Tom Duane, State Senator, said of the buildings:

We don't look kindly at developers coming in and taking advantage of the character of our neighborhood and destroying it. In a battle for what's more exciting for people ­ a Richard Meier building or preserving the character of the Village ­ preserving the character of the Village will win out every time.

Potential buyers, however, have certainly demonstrated the viability of such projects in Manhattan. With current residents such as Calvin Klein, Nicole Kidman, Ian Schrager, Vincent Gallo and Martha Stewart (who sold her apartment prior to her sentencing), the buildings have been an amazing financial success. 

Bellon 2004


How to visit

The two buildings are located in the intersection of Perry Street and West Street, in Greenwich Village. Take the 1 or 9 train to the Christopher St/Sheridan Sq stop. Walk west on Christopher Street, then north on West Street.


Books and other web sites

Pictures of the towers during construction can be seen at www.wirednewyork.com

www.richardmeier.com has Richard Meier's own description and photographs.

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