Architecture Lab

Boldface Buildings in the Cold Light of Now

AT the height of the condo building boom in Manhattan, when it seemed as if a shiny new building was being announced every week, developers took a page from the motion picture industry and seized on star power to sell their projects.
Boldface Buildings in the Cold Light of Now

Pairs from left: Robert A. M. Stern and 15 Central Park West; Richard Meier and 173 Perry Street; Enrique Norten and One York Street; Annabelle Selldorf and 200 11th Avenue; Jean Nouvel and 100 11th Avenue.

In the same way that George Clooney and Meryl Streep could be counted on to carry a picture, these brand-name architects, or “starchitects,” as they came to be known, helped to set a building apart and gave buyers another reason to want to live there.


The names on the marquees included Richard Meier, Enrique Norten, Robert A. M. Stern, Philip Johnson and Annabelle Selldorf, as well as designers focused on interiors, like Philippe Starck and Giorgio Armani. The boldface treatment worked, helping to push prices ever higher.

But you don’t need a subscription to Variety to know that star power sometimes dims. Now that the dust has settled and these buildings have had a few years to age and see some turnover, resale prices show mixed results. Although none of the starchitects have suffered enough to be considered box office poison, some buildings that had not sold out when the recession hit have had to offer hefty discounts. Others, while still commanding good prices relative to nearby buildings, are not holding their initial value.

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