8 Union Square South
About this project
The project is located in Manhattan at the southwest corner of Union Square—directly opposite the park—on the last remaining underdeveloped site. When our returning client came to us with the desire to develop a corner of Union Square they initially wanted a building with an all-glass façade. While they were pleased with our initial designs, the all-glass façades changed dramatically throughout the life of the project due to budget constraints, a changing wartime economy, and the constant flux of a dynamic high-profile residential market. Pre-cast concrete panels were incorporated into the design, and, once married to our original glass façade idea, they begin to realize a layered masking effect as the glass layers were set deep into the interlocking concrete panels. This idea enveloped the building by utilizing the concrete panels to enclose the more private spaces. In addition, the remaining floor-to-ceiling glass façade portions in the living areas became the only separation from the park directly across the street, allowing the inhabitants an intimate and free experience with one of the city’s most valuable places.
Since the site is a highly visible corner, the street-level commercial space was maximized by locating the residential lobby and primary doorman service on the 2nd floor. A supplemental part-time doorman would also be stationed at the street level residential entrance where the elevator is first accessed. The dual lobby spaces are physically connected by a single elevator and experientially connected through a clear open void space that penetrates the floor separating the two levels. The void is lit dramatically with random-height light fixtures which simultaneously animate the verticality of the space.
In the individual apartments, our client wanted to project a luxurious living experience. We accomplished this by incorporating a virtual concierge service in each apartment. A wireless touch-screen computer interface directly connects each apartment to the Quintessentially private members club, where members receive automatic access and exclusive privileges at the finest gyms, spas, restaurants and nightclubs locally and around the globe at the touch of a button. The building is only the second of its type in New York City to incorporate this service, The Plaza being the first. In addition to the virtual concierge system, each apartment is pre-wired for a Bang & Olufsen audio system, allowing the individual owners to experience their choice of the joys of music seamlessly throughout each apartment.
We also used sleek and sustainable finishes. The kitchens were fabricated by Valcucine, a luxury European kitchen designer and manufacturer. In addition to the high Modern sensibility that Valcucine is known for, their products are also environmentally sensitive and they directly support the use of renewable and sustainable materials. We also used flooring approved by the Forestry Stewards Council of America and “green” materials for the wall coverings throughout the lobbies. The bathroom materials incorporated a blend of natural stones and renewable composite ceramics which induce a further refinement of the ideas of luxurious modernity our client wished to portray.
The original buyers were also allowed to choose the focus of the interior finishes by selecting one of four “lifestyle packages”. New owners with highly developed tastes in art, fashion, food & wine, or even a combination of all three could opt to have their apartments outfitted with custom lighting, storage spaces, kitchen amenities, or a combination thereof to suit their own tastes. These options were presented to prospective buyers in order to take advantage of the spectacle of a transparent construction process and to let the initial apartments be further detailed and customized by the new owners before they are fully constructed.