Robert A.M. Stern Tweaks the Upper West Side


Image: Augustus Wendell for Robert A.M. Stern Architects

A brand-new storefront is coming to the Upper West Side and — get this — it’s not a chain store. Starchitect Robert A.M. Stern this afternoon unveiled his redesign of the Kaufman Center, a music school born in 1952 as a Jewish art school and installed in a modernist structure back when the area was scruffy. The natty neoclassicist presented plans for a “vivid fire-red granite” two-story lobby and glazed-glass exterior to make the 67th Street façade glow at night — all the better to stand up to hulking Victoria’s Secret next door, on the corner of Broadway. (Click here for a larger version of the rendering.) Like the more avant-garde firm Diller Scofidio & Renfro, which is redesigning neighboring Lincoln Center by leveling that forbidding plaza, Stern tells us he’s “tweaking” a modernist façade to draw passersby in a neighborhood that’s gone domestic. “A lot of new buildings around here are bunkers,” he told us. Indeed. An example: the soon-to-be-completed 15 Central Park West, that pile of limestone and columns just down the block. Who designed that? Oh, yeah: Robert A.M. Stern. —Alec Appelbaum