There’s a parlor game that sophisticated New Yorkers have been playing since the Gilded Age: What are New York’s best apartment buildings? Before the turn of the (last) century, the Dakota and the Osborne were obvious answers; by the 1920s the list had grown to include McKim, Mead & White’s 998 Fifth, and the ultra-soigné 820 Fifth Avenue. The Roaring Twenties witnessed the construction of some of the most luxurious apartment buildings ever designed: 740 Park Avenue, the Art Deco–inspired River House, and Rosario Candela’s extraordinary 778 and 720 Park Avenue. Now, nearly 130 years after the Dakota’s cornerstone was laid, the New York skyline features numerous new palatial residential buildings, including Robert A. M. Stern’s 15 Central Park West, Richard Meier’s glass-walled Perry Street towers, and 432 Park Avenue, New York’s tallest residential building.
Kirk Henckels and Anne Walker, real estate and architectural insiders, chronicle the fortunes and features of fifteen outstanding apartment houses, bringing them to life with evocative vintage photos of exterior and interior architectural details, as well photographs of chic New Yorkers at home in their elegant abodes by the likes of Beaton, Horst, and Aarons. Accompanied by Michel Arnaud’s expressive photographs and newly commissioned architectural plans, Henckels and Walker tour some of the most beautiful apartments in these buildings as they look today, designed by the talented hands of Robert Couturier, Michael S. Smith, Thomas Jayne, Katie Ridder, Markham Roberts, Scott Snyder, Peter Marino, and others. This is a true insider’s look at life at the top.
Kirk Henckels is the Vice Chairman of Stribling & Associates, the distinguished residential brokerage, and author of the authoritative Stribling Report, devoted to New York residential real estate trends.
Anne Walker is the co-author (with Peter Pennoyer) of five architectural monographs, including Peter Pennoyer Architects (Vendome) and the recently published New York Transformed: The Architecture of Cross & Cross (Monacelli).
Michel Arnaud specializes in interior and architectural photography. His most recent books are Made to Measure (Vendome) and Detroit: The Dream Is Now (Abrams). He is a frequent contributor to House & Garden, Harpers Bazar, House Beautiful, and Paris Match.
Life at the Top may not be a 37-room duplex penthouse in a limestone Art Deco tower on Park Avenue, but it unlocks the doors of nineteen of the extravagant, extraordinary homes in New York and lets you put them on your coffee table. We can’t all live Life at the Top, but now, thanks to Kirk Henckels, Anne Walker, and Michel Arnaud, we can do more than dream about it; we can actually share the fantasy.
Michael Gross, author, 740 Park,
and Editor in Chief, Avenue
There was a time when books on the life at the top in New York City focused exclusively on the canopied apartment buildings on the Upper East and Upper West sides of Manhattan built until the 1930s. Now a new coffee-table book featuring homes for the wealthy in New York City expands the definition of the top to make room for 21st century apartment towers that have risen in other newly fashionable neighborhoods.
The Wall Street Journal