7 West 21st
288,000 square feet
18 stories, 289 units
New York, New York
Clad in white and gray terra-cotta masonry, 7 West 21st Street is an infill development that reinterprets the Ladies’ Mile Historic District’s turn-of-the-century structures to bring a sense of architectural continuity to both 21st Street and 22nd Street.
This through-block development in the Ladies’ Mile Historic District was built on a lot that had been vacant since the 1920s, thus filling a prominent gap in the street walls of both West 21st and West 22nd streets. It brings much-needed apartments to a neighborhood that first emerged as a residential district in the early nineteenth century but grew to become one of the most popular manufacturing and commercial centers in New York City.
The project consists of two 18-story buildings separated by a shared courtyard. With frontage of varying widths on both sides of the site, the pair have distinct but related street fronts defined by dense grids of sloping terracotta piers and lintels. Both facades are organized in classical tripartite fashion with faux-granite “bases,” but each is individually “tuned” to its respective street: the narrower West 21st façade is distinguished by a four-story base and five narrow bays that emphasize the building’s height; the wider West 22nd façade responds to the more expansive buildings lining that street with a large central bay, two-story base featuring a prominent aluminum storefront and full-height bay windows, and a pronounced zinc cornice. The buildings’ rear facades, facing one another across the shared courtyard, are simpler and similar in appearance, composed of dark gray modern brick and large tilt-and-turn windows.
Despite the apparent simplicity of the terra-cotta forms, recessed detailing, along with varying scale, slope, and color, creates a depth and complexity evocative of the traditional ornament adorning many of the historic facades in the district, particularly the elegant tracery of early-twentieth-century Gothic Revival buildings.
The white terra-cotta masonry used to clad 7 West 21st Street is an homage to Burnham’s White City and to the Flatiron Building. It was made using a process that merges tradition and technology to produce a building that has a clear affinity with the historic structures of Ladies’ Mile but remains firmly rooted in the present moment.
The lobby space for the two buildings extends through the entire block. The 21st Street and 22nd Street entrances are anchored by dark wood and stone finishes. Toward the center of the lobby, a double-height atrium and lighter finishes brighten the ground floor.
7 West 21st Street's second-floor amenities lounge opens onto the central courtyard and can be partitioned for private events.