UES064-01.jpg (75137 bytes) New York Architecture Images-Upper East Side

Park 900


Philip Birnbaum


900 Park Ave., At East  79th St..




International Style II  


limestone façade


Apartment Building





In the early 1970's, two towers broached the traditional cornice line of Park Avenue, 733 Park Avenue at 71st Street and this building.

Both were attacked by some architectural critics and planners for their insensitivity to the surrounding architectural and urbanistic ambiance, their lack of contextual concern.

The passage of time and the proliferation of many other high-rise towers on the Upper East Side have softened the towers' original jarring effect.

Indeed, both now appear more sedate than egregious even though the original criticisms were valid that the celebrated design integrity of the avenue should not be violated.

This tower is quite different from 733's, which is dark and rather somber. 900 Park Avenue is not only set in its own plaza, which is larger than 733's, but also has its own driveway. Furthermore, the building eventually installed attractive public art in its plaza. Originally, the art was a Henry Moore sculpture, which prompted a rather snide 1974 editorial in The New York Times about "throwing good art after a bad building….Architecture is still the missing element. It's a cultural con game."

Architecturally, this building's limestone façade has a vertical emphasis and its lobby is quite spacious and highly visible because of large windows. The building was completed in 1973 and was designed by Philip Birnbaum. Jay Spectre Inc. designed the building's lobby and a tenants' restaurant in a Modernist style.

In his 1990 book, "Park Avenue, Street of Dreams," (Atheneum), James Trager noted that Paul Goldberger's view of 900 Park Avenue when he was the architecture critic of The New York Times was that it was "a more serious violation" of the avenue's "spirit" than 733 because "it creates a sense of void at a crucial intersection."

While 900 Park Avenue is more visible because 79th Street is a major cross street and its plaza is deeper than 733's, it is a more attractive building. In addition, Goldberger, Trager continued, identified architect Birnbaum as the designer of "most of the boring Second Avenue highrise towers" and maintained that at 900 Park Avenue he went "arty, and the results are dismal indeed."