19 East 57th Street
The LVMH Tower has already been touted for bringing back the stylish skyscraper New York used to be known for (and it’s only 24 stories high by 60 feet wide). Some have even had the temerity to compare it to the impeccable Deco of the Chrysler Building. Only time will tell if French architect Christian de Portzamparc’s icy folded façade will achieve landmark status, but the building kayoes Manhattan’s other pedigreed new structures: Polshek Partnership’s Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History and Bernard Tschumi’s Alfred Lerner Student Center at Columbia University. Tschumi’s bravura glass ramp is framed by wings more appropriate to a suburban Holiday Inn. The Rose Center’s terrarium is fine; it’s those chunky arms lifting the Hayden Planetarium sphere off the ground that could have used a little streamlining. The LVMH tower, arresting from afar, doesn’t disappoint up close. Gaze up at the building’s off-kilter chasm from the street edge of the sidewalk in front. Smirk at the Starck-like, horn-shaped handles on the bathroom doors. Check out the view (if you can wangle an invitation) from the Magic Room: Lower than its neighbors, the LVMH building nonetheless has great views of the Hudson, Wollman Rink, even Tiffany & Co. Slipping in under the bigger buildings’ radar, LVMH shows what a clever tailor can do with the most minimal materials.