Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chatham Towers

Chatham Towers is one of the most interesting middle income developments in urban American from the 1960s. They were built in 1964 as a cooperative near City Hall, next to Chinatown, designed by Kelly & Gruzen. Unusually, they are raw concrete in one of the most purely brutalist complexes in the United States - residential complexes that is. In form they are close to many English social housing schemes, however in detail they far surpass them (being site built for a higher price point helps, of course). Interestingly, they reputedly have Swedish windows - the blinds are between the glass of the double-glazing, which is extremely common in Swedish windows from the 30s until the 80s, as well as being center-pivot windows (also common in Sweden in this era). Apparently, there was some controversy about the use of gypsum board (aka drywall) within the units at the time as well.
Here is a view from an overpass, framed through tree's, showing the assymetrical penthouse. A view of the balconies, showing the detailing, the ribbed concrete and elegant balcony edges and the windows. The slots beneath the windows are for fresh air supply I assume, for the air handlers.
A view looking up at the balconies and facade. The balconies are assymetical in the sense of some floors not having them to create a more interesting silhouette. Another view looking at the buildings obliquely. A shot from the privacy and retaining wall, framed through the garden trees.
A parting glance, looking at the towers in shadow. This shows the balcony silhouette quite well. The concrete is in amazingly good condition, probably due to the less severe New York winters.

I will follow up with plans and further details when I get a chance, however I wanted to get these photos out quickly.

2 comments:

Didi said...

Interesting post. I had not known about these buildings before. Great job, David!

David said...

Thanks Didi, I thought of you in NYC when I went to Macy's... Remind me to tell you sometime.