Halcyon in Midtown East has launched sales, and we’re digging the breezy-elegant look of the SLCE-designed project. Located at 305 East 51st Street, the HFZ Capital development will feature 123 one- to four-bedroom condominiums priced from approximately $1.3 million to over $10 million.
We chatted with SLCE Partner James Davidson about the inspiration behind the warm and glassy 32-story tower.
BuzzBuzzHome: Can you first talk about the overall design approach/concept for Halcyon?
James Davidson: The overall design concept was actually determined by an unusual zoning for the site where they mandate a tower on a base. That gave us an idea of separating the tower from the base in a very dramatic way. Halcyon’s primarily limestone six-story base frames the tower as it fronts Second Avenue and anchors the corner, relating to the lower neighborhood scale of the tree-lined side street.
BBH: Can you discuss the choice of materials for the building?
JD: The materials are bronze-colored frames with a color-neutral glass and a limestone base, so that it’s an entirely warm palette, which I think is needed in this part of town right now. We’ve broken up the facade with different expressions, making the building seem less bulky; if we had one system, then the overall look of the building would’ve been a little bit broader and less exciting.
We did The Milan (at 300 East 55th Street), and we did a number of other buildings in the area in recent years, so we feel very confident that Halcyon will fit in and at the same time have its own personality.
BBH: How did you achieve a “classically modern” exterior for the building?
JD: Classic modernism has been bandied about quite a bit — if you go back to a building like the Seagram Building (at 375 Park Avenue), there’s a simplicity and elegance of materials and color palette that stand the test of time. That’s what we’re trying to do here.
There’s a complexity to Halcyon, which of course you don’t see in a Classic Modern building because of its massing. So, what we’ve done is to distinguish the tower itself from the surrounding base… to give it a simplicity of line that lets the base relate to the neighborhood texture on the side street, 51st Street, where all the buildings are mandated to be lower.
BBH: How did you maximize natural light and views for the residences?
JD: Once you clear the base of the building, the tower is oriented in a north/south direction and because it’s set back from the avenue, we have quite a bit of light in there looking to the west. Setbacks from the side street not only afford a lot of light and air, but also give views from the east as you get to the top of the building.
One of the features of the building is the health club that is located on the 20th floor, which is rarely accomplished in most other buildings, where the amenities are at the bottom or the top.
I think it’s going to be a fantastic feature that people will notice from the outside as well as the inside. The lighting quality is going to be very interesting in that space, very different compared to the residential component of the building above and below.
BBH: Can you describe the layouts of the 123 residences, which range from one- to four-bedrooms?
JD: Corcoran Sunshine has been instrumental at tailoring these layouts to a market that they very much understand. A lot of work has gone into maximizing the offering opportunities and alternatives for a potential buyer. There is simply not one floor plan that is extruded throughout the entire building — there are six or seven or eight, which provides a lot of opportunity for someone looking for an apartment to pick and choose.
BBH: The architecture of the lobby is an almost perfect cube, according to the official site. What was the rationale for that shape?
JD: What we wanted to do was maximize the amount of residential throughout the balance of the building, and we found that the the second-floor portion of the building was exciting, much more exciting from a lobby experience point of view, so we created that cube. Because it’s on the side street, it gives you a connectivity with the ambiance of 51st Street… Once you go east from the corner, there’s an unusual drop-off of noise from the avenue, and you really get into a side street kind of ambiance. By having this double-height space, you can look out and see the tree-lined street. It’s good at announcing that you’ve gone from a very hectic Midtown environment to a more halcyon kind of environment.
HFZ augmented the development site to include the corner parcel. We think that the corner anchor is very important for the expression of the building. It also makes 51st Street into a complete side street, which really hadn’t existed before… I think that it’s really positive, not only for the development but the neighborhood as well.
BBH: How closely did you collaborate with S. Russell Groves, who designed the interiors and the amenity space in the building?
JD: We actually started off in an earlier iteration with a cooler aesthetic. Working with the interior designer’s concepts, we all concluded that a warmer palette for this building would not only serve as more of a holistic design approach, but it would also be better for the neighborhood and set this building apart from some of the other more recent ventures that have been built in the area.
I think the collaboration has been very healthy amongst all the designers and all the marketing people on the job. And the building is coming online at the right time.
Photo: Steve Friedman
Halcyon is a featured project on BuzzBuzzHome. Get more information about Halcyon here.