When the folks at Taconic Investment Partners and Douglas Elliman invited me for an exclusive first look at the Sterling Mason sales office at 459 Washington, I hopped on a Citi Bike and braved the cobblestones: Not only is the new development on a large chunk of prime northwest Tribeca—the south side of Laight between Greenwich and Washington—but I suspect the building will end up being architecturally noteworthy.
What architect Morris Adjmi has done is leave 401 Washington (or at least the shell of it) more or less alone, while creating a new building to the east (412 Greenwich, formerly a garage) that mirrors its partner; the address for the combined duo will be 71 Laight. Where the design gets really interesting is the choice of materials: The Mason façade is terra cotta, while the Sterling façade will be grayscale and metallic-looking. The original idea was to sheath Sterling in metal, but that proved too unwieldy, so now the first floor will be cast aluminum and the floors above will be a cement composite or reinforced concrete panels with a metallic finish. Achieving what landmarks folks call contextuality while avoiding pastiche and injecting a contemporary edge is a rare triumph.
The 96,000 salable square feet have been divided into just 33 apartments with two to five bedrooms; there are three penthouses—one simplex and two duplexes, with four to six bedrooms each. The Sterling Mason team says the floor plans were designed to afford flexibility, so you can reconfigure—or combine (why not?)—without too much hassle. Here’s the floor plan for the C line, in the building’s northwest corner:
The Juliet balconies in the floor plan look out onto the 40-by-60-foot interior courtyard, which is being designed by Deborah Nevins. The space is communal, and mostly designed to be admired from the residences (although one could certainly imagine relaxing quietly under the hawthorn trees and next to the fountain, as seen in the model and renderings below). Windows on the courtyard have sliding metal shutters that reference Tribeca iconography.
John and Christine Gachot, who have worked extensively on André Balasz’s projects, designed the interiors, and they sourced from within the U.S. whenever possible. The Gachots enlisted Henrybuilt for the millwork; this is the first time Henrybuilt agreed to participate in a project of this size. Take a look below at the detail of the walnut cabinets in the model kitchen at the sales office. That’s nice stuff. The vent (yes, it goes to the outside) is powder coated, the floors are white oak, and the counters are Imperial Danby marble from Vermont. Of special note are the light fixtures in the kitchen and bath: They were custom made at trans.LUXE over on Walker.
I threatened to move into the model bathroom: It has a herringbone floor, a Toto Washlet toilet, slab wainscoting, radiant floors, and Lefroy Brooks fixtures, and it was huge. I’m not entirely sure about the chicken-wire transom window—I forgot to take a photo—but that’s me. (The photos below aren’t as white as they should be; my camera acted up.)
There are two elevators for the 33 residences (or fewer, if any buyers combine), a live-in residential manager, a library lounge with dining area and kitchen facilities (for your caterer, obvs), an exercise room with yoga space, a programmed children’s playroom, and a self-park garage with 12 spaces and an entrance on Greenwich. Hard as it may be to imagine, there are celebrities out there who don’t actually want to be photographed all the time. Below: the pretty lobby, seen as you approach from the entrance, on Laight.
Those of us not likely to become Sterling Masonites will still be able to get inside the building in one way: The Greenwich side has a yet-to-be-rented 3,850-square-foot retail space on the ground floor. The Washington side—which is a few feet above grade (and has even less foot traffic)—will be residential.