Monday, June 20, 2011

NYC Vintage Image: William Lescaze's Acclaimed 211 East 48th, 1949

When Swiss-born architect William Lescaze designed and built his four-story residence & office in 1949 among a row of 19th Century brownstones at 211 East 48th Street, the great writer E.B. White observed, "Its designer must have been dreaming about South Miami Beach when he built his glass-brick and stucco Art Deco dream house."

Not quite... Lescaze came to the States in 1923, designing interiors for restaurants and nightclubs in Cleveland before focusing on office, retail and apartment interiors, then turning his attention to structural design. He gained fame for the Philadelphia Saving Fund Society building in 1932, cited for such advanced innovations as central AC and aluminum-framed windows.

In his home, right-hand stairs go down to the ground floor studio and office space for Lescaze’s architectural practice; the left-hand stoop goes up to the first floor, comprising kitchen, dining room and library; the second floor contains bedrooms; and the third floor a living room. With the exception of a piano and two bentwood chairs, all furniture was designed by Lescaze

Still, that there house is awfully odd, huh? Remarkably, it stands today as it did then, between Second & Third avenues, protected by New City Landmarks, which sniffs that it offers “a complex, rationally designed street front with precisely balanced solids and voids.” My god, I was thinking the very same thing.

Recently, the current owner offered the 5,124-square-foot building for rent, after completing repairs and renovations to the entire structure, including a glass-enclosed elevator. Ooh la la! The going price: $19,950 a month. Lescaze died in 1969, but he'd likely be damn proud.Then... and now...Below, real estate broker pics: yours for a prayer & a song!
And a final note about Lescaze: He gained such renown that he was asked to design a protoype for the world famous Museum of Modern Art. His wood & metal models from 1930-1931 are now proudly on display at the MoMa.