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"Architecture keeps no secrets. It is the great communicator."
on March 12, 2014
Te message behind Fifteen Central Park West is the dream of classical opulence for the ultra wealthy buyers of today's economy. Many of the older, established luxury buildings are co-ops in which a board must approve one's application to buy. Single moms, international wanderers, and ovcious social fringe groups need not apply. The new money is international, concerned with status, demanding of service, and without cultural bounds. Here is the birth of buildings of condominiums like this one.
This book goes into detail, sometimes excruciating, of the founding both of the building and the careers of its builders. The provenance of the plot itself is traced historically back through the non-romantic days of "West Side Story". The prose is clear, but the details drag at times for me. I think this is an indication of individual taste rather than a short coming of the book in general. A person looking to understand the real estate changes in residential space in NYC would find this part gratifying.
For me the more interesting part is the discussion in the last fourth of the book of the buyers who eventually either invested in or inhabited the building. The detail is rich, no pun intended, and one can easily picture the building as the organism that the developers had dreamed. The book is sold as somewhat more sensational than the product delivered. While the expensive features are certainly revealed, there is nothing of the "wealth porn" that has come to the shelves recently. Rather the book reveals the features that can be and are had by the super rich in a measured tone. It makes for an interesting look at that tiny fraction of the world who can afford this building.