A New Era Began for Upper West Side Architecture

With an ascending cantilever design, Era is a 250-foot-tall condo tower at the corner of 91st Street and Broadway. Here's what the project's developers and architects have in mind.

At 251 W. 91st St. in Manhattan, a 20-story development is taking shape, one that is breaking the mold of tradition, boasting a daring architecture in a modern interpretation of classic Upper West Side prestige. By next spring, developers Adam America Real Estate and Northlink Capital intend to finalize work on the 57 boutique residences that make the Era project.

Designed by ODA, the condo building differentiates itself from the neighboring properties through its unique cantilever structure that was developed to provide spacious residential layouts and a collection of luxury amenity offerings, including an outdoor rooftop pool—a rare sight for this area—installed earlier this summer.

Era. Rendering courtesy of MOSO Studio

“Our vision was to create a luxury condo development that features the best of everything—exceptional exterior and interior design, spacious interior layouts and expansive views of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline, along with a superior amenity and lifestyle offering, unmatched by any other building on the Upper West Side,” Omri Sachs, co-founder of Adam America Real Estate.

Pandemic who?

Construction on the project started in December 2019, a few months before the pandemic took a toll on U.S. construction. But work only stopped in March, when the city came to a grinding halt, but otherwise the health crisis had almost no impact on the project’s timeline.

“There were a lot of new onsite requirements due to COVID-19, which took extra time to manage, but internally there wasn’t much of a slowdown. Actually, full steam ahead, the project remained on time and on budget,” said Eran Chen, founding principal of ODA.

Rooftop pool. Rendering courtesy of V1

The pandemic has had little effect on its design, as well, as Era had already been contrived with livable outdoor space, something potential buyers appeared very much interested in.

“ODA has always advocated for livable outdoor space in residential projects, so it’s no surprise to us that the pandemic has exacerbated this. The real quality of life is where you can open the door onto a furnishable terrace and breathe the fresh air,” Chen said.

Science, engineering create a kind of magic

Although Era’s design is nothing like the buildings around it, it blends naturally in its surroundings due to the contextual details imagined by the architect—from the Herringbone pattern of the façade to the deep windows with elegant mullions that blend into the surroundings, as Chen puts it.

Era. Image courtesy of Michael Young

The bones are still those of a classic masonry tower, but with tilted frame, which gives the effect of a refined building without restricting access to natural light. In fact, the windows are much larger than average for the area, which not only allows more natural light into the space, but also opens the building up to the surrounding views.

Era’s limestone façade comprises offset geometries layered in three-floor increments, which, on one hand, gives a triple-height frame, detailed Sachs, while on the other, it allowed the installation of oversized windows for residents.

People look at the condo project like it’s an illusion, which adds to the satisfaction of those involved in its development. Engineering the 45-foot cantilever structure was a challenge that brought with it a deeper rewarding feeling.

Era. Image courtesy of Michael Young

“Standing on the site and watching this go up has been amazing,” admitted Chen, adding that even though his team has done a lot of work in Brooklyn and downtown, this project is special as it’s one of the few new buildings they’re doing on the Upper West Side.

“It’s nice to bring fresh modern architecture to a new neighborhood. Most of the buildings around it are older and lack amenities…We are creating something that doesn’t exist on the Upper West Side,” he added.

Interiors and amenity package

The 57 units range from 887 square feet to 3,524 square feet in one- to five-bedroom layouts, and were designed with intimacy in mind, splurging on luxurious materials—white oak flooring, custom doors and moldings, custom Italian cabinetry by Aster Cucine, under-mount quartz sinks with Gaggenau appliances, baths with Calacatta Gold and Thassos mosaic flooring, marble slab walls and countertops.

14A living room. Rendering courtesy of V1

Details, shapes and angles that make the façade are playfully repeated indoors, both within apartments and throughout the shared spaces. The apartment layouts stay true to the pre-war style the Upper West Side is known for, with defined foyers and corridors, yet well-lit by large windows and two different exposures in many units.

From the entrance, residents are welcomed in a double-height lobby with a 24-hour concierge, where a stone-clad spiral staircase leads up to the second-floor amenity space, lined with large windows just along the tree line. There, residents have access to a children’s playroom, a fitness center, a yoga studio, a coworking lounge/library, a music room, a pet grooming station, bike storage and private storage units for purchase.

Lobby spiral staircase. Rendering courtesy of V1

The project’s many appealing features will likely attract a wide range of buyers, believes Robert Rosenthal, president of Northlink Capital—from local Upper West Side residents to people outside of the neighborhood and from across the city.

“Manhattan’s Upper West Side is becoming more and more known as a neighborhood in which families are looking to settle down in,” Rosenthal added.

The five-bedroom penthouse A, spanning more than 3,500 square feet indoor and roughly 1,000 square feet of private outdoor space, had an asking price of $13.5 million. Not long ago, it went into contract for a record-breaking price per square foot, which Sachs says marks the highest per-square-foot price ever achieved for a condo above 88th Street in Manhattan. The buyer was a New York City resident.

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