Among the lions of American architects is the late high Modernist master Charles Gwathmey, a principal at Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, now known as Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman & Associates Architects, and part of what’s known as The New York Five, a handful of modern architects who were included in the 1972 book “Five Architects.”
The dashing, Saville Row suit-wearing New York City native, who died at 71 in 2009, is probably most widely known for the 1992 renovation and expansion of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan. In addition to his many public buildings, he was also sought after for his work on private residences and designed numerous homes in some of New York City’s finest buildings for a who’s who of Hollywood. In 1969, he did Faye Dunaway’s apartment at the El Dorado on Central Park West; in 1979, he did David Geffen’s apartment at the Parc V on Fifth Avenue; and, in 1985, Steven Spielberg’s 52nd-floor apartment in Midtown. (He later designed a sprawling waterfront compound in the Hamptons for Spielberg.)
One of his lesser-known residential commissions came late in his career—a sprawling loft apartment in the Chelsea neighborhood that’s just come up for lease at $32,000 per month. The apartment was designed for the architect’s stepson, indie filmmaker and producer Eric Steel, a producer on the 1999 film “Angela’s Ashes,” as well as the controversial 2006 documentary “The Bridge” and the 2009 film “Julie & Julia.” More recently, Steel co-wrote and served as the producer and director of the acclaimed 2022 coming of age film “Minyan.”
According to listing agent Erin Boisson Aries of the Erin Boisson Aries Team at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, “Rarely is a home with such exciting detail and provenance offered for rent.” Large enough to ride a bike in, the space measures 110 feet long and 40 feet wide, with fourteen south-facing windows that frame a southern city view.
Free of frippery and extraneous decorative details, the roughly 4,500-square-foot loft is a pure expression of the bold geometries, expert craftsmanship, and premium materials for which Gwathmey is renowned. There are two bedrooms, both ensuite and both with generous closet space, plus a study with built-in bookshelves and desk.
The combination living and dining space stretches 45 feet end to end, while the kitchen includes a walk-in pantry and separate laundry room. Alongside the kitchen, a media area features built-in shelving and a gently curved wall on which the TV is hung. Elsewhere are a discreetly placed powder room and a storage room larger than many Manhattan studio apartments.
This is not the first time the loft has come up for rent. More than a decade ago, it was leased fully furnished to The Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington, who stayed on as a tenant for about two years. Alas, things did not end well. According to numerous press reports from the time, Steel sued Huffington for $275,000 in damages that allegedly included broken appliances, stainless steel window seats marred by candles and cosmetics, scratched wood floors, and gouged walls.
The outcome of the lawsuit is unknown, but the loft is now in pristine shape and ready for the next tenant who has the dough and desire to live, albeit temporarily, in what the 2013 lawsuit aptly described as a loft-style residence of rare “historical and aesthetic significance.”
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