Taking a break from focusing on the pre-war buildings of New York City, this is the first on post war architecture. There are scattered about the city, mostly on the upper east side very plain white brick buildings, that are completely unadorned and perhaps at first glance not quite as appealing, or at least entertaining to the eye. However, from the perspective of architectural history, and urban development are important to recognizing the fabric that makes up our city.
The white brick building, where did it come from? Well, Manhattan House is where it all began. Financed and built by the New York Life Insurance Company, designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill Gordon Bunshaft and Mayer & Whittlesey, completed in 1950. The building is 21 stories mixed used apartments and retail on the ground floor, encompassing the entire block of 66th to 65th street, from 3rd avenue to 2nd, a staggeringly large building by any standards. The building is clearly a nod to and inspired by the modernists & international style of Le Courbusier and Mies van der Rohe. The large windows, projecting balconies, gardens and circular drive created a nice dialog between the interior spaces and the outdoors. Bunshaft himself along with Grace Kelly and Benny Goodman were all early residents.