By Claudie Benjamin

Architects always talk about “turning the corner,” explains Randy Gerner, founding partner at GKV Architects. He mentions this while describing the unusual ornamental balconies on the rusticated brick and glass residential building at 2770 Broadway. He explains that the balconies form a kind of hinge at the acute angle, joining the 107th Street facade with the facade that faces Broadway. The exterior benefits from the ornamental feature and the interior living area is enhanced and enlarged by using the corner balcony as outdoor space. 

The 22-story apartment building stands on the site of the Olympia Cinemas, which was demolished in 2003.

 The balconies on the second floor may be observed and enjoyed as public art by pedestrians looking up from the southeast corner of 107th Street and Broadway. These cast metal balconies were created by Ed McGowin, a NYC-Miami-based artist, known for his many public artworks. The balcony designs are typical of his figurative, playful style. These usable outdoor spaces are set at an angle and are particularly notable for allowing residents to enjoy views of the Hudson River and Straus Park.  Gerner says the brickwork on the building’s facade was chosen because it relates well to materials used for other buildings in the area. 

He explains that Broadway, among the earliest avenues in Manhattan, winds along in contrast to the later streets and avenues planned along a straight grid. This configuration allowed for unintended, but very interesting and exciting opportunities to design a building like 2770 that optimizes unobstructed urban views.

2770 Broadway was among Gerner’s early works. Over the following decades and the design of many buildings in the US, Asia, and the Middle East, he has become prominent. He is well-known for his innovative use of Béton Brut (raw concrete) in many of his buildings.

In New York City, Gerner’s design of the 300+ room Beekman Residences and Hotel at Manhattan’s Nassau Street is a stunning example of repurposing an historic building. Gerner explains that the project’s core was transforming a highly ornamented 1880s building into a combined hotel and residence. The Gerner-designed 43-story residential tower that is part of this project demonstrates the use of Béton Brut as a structural and decorative material.

More specifically, one distinctive example of the creative use of raw concrete involved making molds of some of the historic detailing in the 1880s building and using them to cast in concrete the elements that form the facade of the new residential tower.  Incorporating elements of the past into the contemporary building in this way combines artistry, innovation, and an appreciation of history and contemporary style.

Another project that shows Gerner’s passion for Béton Brut, art, and architecture, is the Ten23 building off the High Line. Here the building facade incorporates “a quilt-like pattern,” of sculptural elements in terms of texture and color.  But, not only that – a section of open space has been incorporated into the building for use as a sculpture garden.  Like the sculptural balconies at 2770 Broadway, the sculpture displayed at Ten23, named Urban Rattle, created by Charlie Hewitt, and viewable from the High Line, demonstrates how residents and pedestrians can appreciate the convergence of art and architecture.

Share This