Museum living

The glass tower 53W53 is in a class of its own with space set aside for art galleries for MoMA

Amenities at 53W53 and the next-door neighbor, the Museum of Modern Art

For over a decade, Manhattanites have been eagerly anticipating an angular, glass-wrapped tower at 53 West 53rd Street, next door to the Museum of Modern Art. Now workers are on site, and the tower, dubbed 53W53, is joining the city’s skyline.

When the 1,050-foot building is completed in 2018, it will be starchitect Jean Nouvel’s first residential skyscraper. And to up the design pedigree of the tower even further, the developers tapped society designer Thierry Despont to create the building’s interiors.

Construction recently reached the 28th floor — the tower will eventually hit 82 — and to get a taste of what’s to come, LLNYC was treated to a tour of the building’s nearby sales office.

One hundred forty-five residences, ranging from one to five bedrooms, are planned for 53W53, including full-floor homes and duplex penthouses with private elevator entry. Prices range from approximately $3 million to $70 million for the penthouse, which is yet to hit the market.

Residents will receive a ‘special benefactor’
MoMA membership.

The building is informally dubbed the MoMA Tower, and that moniker is appropriate beyond its proximity to the museum. 53W53 will house gallery levels for its next-door neighbor. The museum will extend sideways into 53W53, taking up a total of seven of the tower’s floors. The unusual amenity is set to be a real boon for any art-loving residents, who will receive a special benefactor MoMA membership.

And if there was a competition for museum extensions, then certainly MoMA would clinch the lead. In comparison, the Metropolitan Museum of Art recently announced that it would be pushing back plans for a $600 million wing dedicated to Modern and contemporary art. The wing was originally set to be a 150th-birthday present for the Met in 2020.

Over in the 53W53 sales office, a mock lobby demonstrates how the building will greet its future residents. Oak paneling lines the walls and high, coffered ceilings will be inlaid with backlit green onyx.

The apartments will feature soaring 9-foot-high walnut entry doors framed by the same backlit green onyx. They also boast solid American oak floors, crown molding with integrated air diffusers, and custom-designed bronze door handles that mimic the silhouette of the building.

Naturally for a building that is linked to a world-famous museum, apartments are set to have abundant wall space for hanging art, and the building’s integrated humidification system — which will maintain a 30 percent relative humidity — is ideal for protecting valuable pieces. 

Each apartment will be unique thanks to Nouvel’s exposed structural system or beams that crisscross the perimeter of the building, creating 6,747 window panels of different shapes and sizes.

But, of course, the building offers more than just structural individuality and a whole lot of windows. There will be amenities aplenty, including a wellness center, library, theater and wine vault. It’s also capitalizing on the in-house restaurant trend. While we don’t have the chef’s name quite yet, we do know that the restaurant will be open to the public but also available in-room to residents.

Certainly for any fans of Picasso, Miró and Matisse who have money to spend, a pad at this tower might be a worthwhile investment, especially if you get to cut the lines next door.