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These Residential Lobbies are Transforming into Fine Art Galleries

Developers see museum-worthy art as a new way to heighten a building’s appeal.


Famed artist Joan Miró’s spectacular triptych Mural Painting I-III is conservatively valued at over $40 million. It once hung majestically in Washington’s National Gallery of Art and London’s Tate Modern. Today, if you want to gaze at this trio of colorful canvases, each spanning over 11 feet by eight feet, you won’t find them on the walls of any public gallery. Instead, you’ll need to head over to the brand-new, Darth Vader-y black-glass condominium skyscraper between East 39th and East 40th in New York’s Midtown Manhattan.

Gracing the sky-high lobby of the Richard Meier & Partners–designed 685 First Avenue, with its double-height ceilings and striking travertine walls, is the Miró triptych in all its glory. The Miró masterpiece is actually part of the personal collection of legendary New York billionaire Sheldon H. Solow, whose company, the Solow Building Company, developed this stunning obsidian tower a few blocks from the United Nations headquarters. Expected to be completed later this year, the 148 condos will be priced starting from around $1.5 million and, like the building, soar upward. (For example, the 42nd-floor, four-bedroom penthouses are priced from $8.18 million.)

“Incorporating art into residential buildings helps to create an experience for residents as well as illustrates the lifestyle that a building can help to create,” says Solow. “It also provides residents with a gallery-like experience on a daily basis.”

As you might expect, 685 First Avenue is not the only recent development embracing the growing new trend of showcasing world-class lobby art. The building at 100 East 53rd Street is a magnificent new modernist landmark, also in Midtown Manhattan, designed by Foster + Partners and developed by famous art collector Aby Rosen and his company, RFR Holding.

Madison Square Park Tower

Artwork by Marcel Eichner is on display in the lobby of Madison Square Park Tower.  Photo Credit: Courtesy

For the lobby of this 64-story, 94-residence building, Rosen commissioned a spectacular enamel-on-mirror piece from contemporary artist Rachel Feinstein titled Panorama of New York. Measuring 12 feet by six feet, this fantasy dreamscape is also joined by a 1998 sculpture called Cairn #1 by American artist Bryan Hunt, along with the original Federico de Francesco painting Homage to Romanian Blouse III.

An additional highlight of the tower, which sits between the landmark Seagram Building and Lever House on East 53rd, is its 15 loft-style residences. To add a little extra pizzazz to the model unit, Rosen installed a selection of art from his own collection, including works by Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, and Jonas Wood. Prices start at around $2.45 million for a one-bedroom and go up to $9.3 million for an expansive 4,600-square-foot, two-bedroom unit. It’s reported that George and Amal Clooney will be among the future residents.

Further uptown at 180 East 88th Street, developer Joe McMillan’s DDG partnered with German artisan Jan Hooss to create a spectacular custom installation for the building’s striking lobby. The 48 prewar-inspired residences, starting from $1.47 million, include a remarkable 3,800-square-foot, 38th-floor duplex with four bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths that’s currently available for $15 million. Perched some 400 feet above the city, the unit will be among the highest on New York’s Upper East Side.

685 First Avenue

Artwork by Joan Miró in the lobby of 685 First Avenue.  Photo Credit: Courtesy

Speaking of height, over in New York’s Flatiron District, the 65-story Madison Square Park Tower is, at 777 feet, the tallest building between Midtown and Lower Manhattan. One of its most talked-about features is a double-height lobby and library designed by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio. The library itself boasts two eye-popping paintings by German abstract artist Marcel Eichner. Hand-selected by the developer, Ian Bruce Eichner’s Continuum Company, the large-scale works add huge splashes of color to the area.

It’s not just the Big Apple that is using great pieces of art to raise the profile of new residential properties. The lobby of Chicago’s 1000M will showcase art installations, and Miami’s Oceana Bal Harbour tower, with apartments ranging in price from $3 million to $30 million, was specifically designed to showcase art. The 240-unit glass structure overlooking the crashing Atlantic Ocean features not one but two iconic sculptures by celebrated American artist Jeff Koons. The mirror-polished Seated Ballerina sits by the pool area, and the 10-foot-tall Pluto and Proserpina—regarded as one of Koons’s most valuable pieces—is displayed in an outdoor breezeway.

Oceana Bal Harbour

Artwork by Callum Innes, An Te Liu, Jorge Méndez Blake, and other artists is on display in the lobby of Oceana Bal Harbour.  Photo Credit: Courtesy

Both sculptures were purchased by Eduardo Costantini, the billionaire real estate magnate and founder of the renowned MALBA art museum in Buenos Aires. And, in an interesting twist, Costantini has donated the works to the building, meaning they now belong to the residents, with the homeowners’ association looking after their management. That is quite the gift—to get an idea, in 2013, Koons’s Balloon Dog (Orange) sculpture sold at auction for $58.4 million.

“Art is deeply engrained in the fabric of Oceana Bal Harbour,” explains Ernesto Cohan, the building’s director of sales. “Many of the areas, like the lobby and outdoor places, were specifically designed to showcase the art so it could interact with residents’ daily life.”

The Koons sculptures are only part of the treasure trove of spectacular art on display at Oceana Bal Harbour. In the Piero Lissoni–designed lobby, there are 10 museum-quality modern-art masterpieces from the likes of Callum Innes, An Te Liu, Jorge Méndez Blake, and Garth Weisner.

To enjoy all this spectacular art firsthand, you might want to consider the building’s last remaining penthouse. The 8,000-square-foot, four-bedroom unit (which includes 2,300 square feet of balcony space) is currently available for $19.85 million. As for choosing the artwork, that’s up to you.

Artwork on display at 100 East 53rd Street

Artwork from Rachel Feinstein, Bryan Hunt, and Federico de Francesco is on display in the lobby of 100 East 53rd Street.  Photo Credit: Courtesy

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