Behind Rockefeller Group’s First Residential Project in Manhattan
Meg Brod and Nancy Ruddy take us behind the scenes of New York City’s Rose Hill development.
Built to portray an authentic New York attitude, Rose Hill—Rockefeller Group’s first residential project in Manhattan—is a 45-story luxury tower that will combine 123 condo units with private outdoor space, natural light, various co-working areas and multiple amenities separated by type, all in Manhattan’s NoMad neighborhood. The art deco property was designed inside and out by CetraRuddy.
As a result of COVID-19, Rockefeller Group has “incorporated high-efficiency air filters in all common and amenity spaces, including higher efficiency MERV 15 filters in the ground-floor lobby,” said the company’s Senior Vice President & Regional Development Officer, Meg Brod. She and CetraRuddy’s Co-Founding Principal & Executive Director of Interior Design Nancy Ruddy talk in depth about the characteristics of the project including the inspiration behind its name.
Rose Hill is Rockefeller Group’s first residential project in Manhattan. What made you choose this area for a project of this magnitude?
Brod: Rose Hill is inspired by our company’s rich history and is a celebration of New York and everything that makes this city great. For our first condominium project here, we knew that we needed to be in a neighborhood that was centrally located with access to an abundance of amenities within the immediate vicinity.
Manhattan’s NoMad neighborhood is in the heart of the city and one of the trendiest and most sought-after residential destinations. The surrounding area has transformed into one of the premier places to live, work and play because of the numerous housing options, hotels, culinary institutions and retail options, from neighborhood coffee shops to Eataly to shopping along Fifth Avenue. You also have coveted green space, with Madison Square Park and Union Square Park close by. With all of these features combined, we knew Rose Hill would be really attractive to buyers, and the positive feedback we continue to receive on the project is overwhelming.
The NoMad neighborhood is immensely popular for growing companies and offers thousands of square feet of prime office space, which has led to the neighborhood evolving into the home of a strong start-up culture for tech companies as well as design companies and record labels. The central location also provides an abundance of transportation options and offers walkability to many different neighborhoods within Manhattan. New Yorkers want to have convenience and immediate access to all that the city has to offer, and that’s exactly why we chose NoMad.
What was the vision behind Rose Hill?
Brod: We wanted to create a timeless product that was unlike anything else available and would hold its value no matter the state of the market. The project was intentionally designed to address living in the future and speaks to the modern New Yorker with its amenities, flexible floor plans and premier partnerships with local NYC-based institutions. We have more than 25 different layouts to choose from and many of them come with private outdoor space.
Fifty percent of our units have flex rooms. The flex-room homes provide a sense of privacy and openness with their sliding doors and can be changed to fit your needs based on the stage of life you’re in. Currently, while we spend more time at home due to the pandemic, it can be used as a home office or gym, and maybe later on as a nursery or guest room.
Our amenity offering is incredibly robust and is very wellness-driven. Whether you’re an avid fitness guru or new enthusiast, swimmer, reader or gamer, there is something for everyone. We teamed up with several local businesses to program our wellness spaces. On the ground floor, we have a one-of-a-kind bike room and repair shop by Strictly Cycling Collective. The library spaces are curated by celebrated local institution Strand Book Store.
The name, Rose Hill, is a nod to this historic part of NoMad that was once part of the 130-acre Rose Hill Farm estate that occupied the land. We wanted to preserve the authenticity of the building’s origin within its name while also creating a new modern building. When you walk into the lobby, you’ll see a custom mural by Matthew Cole, a nod to Rockefeller’s history of celebrating the arts.
Please share some details about the interior design concept.
Ruddy: Our inspiration for the design of Rose Hill was New York City itself. Rose Hill is a building of its time, but takes its cues from the great buildings of this skyscraper city. Our goal was to create a form that uses the classic elements of skyscraper architecture: a base that connects with the pedestrian experience, a shaft that reaches above its context, and a crown that engages the sky and takes its place on the skyline along such iconic buildings as the Empire State, Chrysler and Woolworth buildings. Rose Hill is a salute to the traditions of Gotham, interpreted in a modern vernacular.
Although the building is 45 stories high, it is contextual to its eclectic, largely masonry architectural neighborhood. Rose Hill’s facade is composed of a textured and articulated antique bronze-tinted grid with large glass windows that are framed with modern details. The building is referential to classic periods of skyscraper architecture, including the use of a chevron articulation that punctuates the facade and base.
Rose Hill has a differentiated attitude—one of modernism, craft, luxuriously simple detail and residential planning for modern living. The planning of these condominium residences is designed for contemporary lifestyles. Our team carefully analyzed how we all live, work and play—and how these lines have become blurred—and created units that are flexible and can adapt to changes in an owner’s life.
The floor plans, for example, incorporate elements called flex spaces. These rooms, which abut living spaces, are defined by elegant art glass and metal doors that can remain open as part of the living spaces or can be closed for more private use. These can be used as a home office, media room, library, nursery or as an expansion of the living/dining space. The interior design approach at Rose Hill is consistent with the building’s spirit.
The building has a theme of living with art, manifested in a custom-painted mural in the lobby, bronze art screens, curated art, 1930’s inspired mosaic murals in the swimming pool and sculptural pendant lights throughout. The residences exemplify a similar interior design approach.
Primary bathrooms have feature walls of slip matched marble that we personally selected in Italy for each residence. The design is not about fashion or style, it is grounded in the context of its neighborhood and is thoughtfully crafted for forward-thinking living.
What were the most challenging aspects of the project?
Brod: There are so many new developments here and we wanted Rose Hill to stand out for its quality and elegance, but in an understated way. The most challenging aspect of the project was finding a way to seamlessly marry Rockefeller Group’s heritage with an aesthetic that was timeless but modern and also portrays an authentic New York attitude.
CetraRuddy understood this vision from its inception, and the design process has been very collaborative. The art deco-inspired exterior, which will be illuminated at the building’s base and crown at night, harkens back to old New York and looks as if the building has been there for decades, while inside it is completely modern and speaks to today’s most discerning modern lifestyle requirements.
How has the coronavirus outbreak impacted the development phase?
Brod: We did experience some construction delays because we were forced to shut down construction temporarily due to government safety mandates. We continued to push ahead wherever possible though to keep things moving smoothly, and when we were able to return to work sites, our team was ready and eager. Rose Hill just commenced closings and welcomed its first residents.
How is the selling process going?
Brod: The pandemic has clearly affected the luxury market, but the building continues to be successful with stable pricing. We have many types of units, from studios to four bedrooms. The residences were already well-priced given the flexibility of the layouts that we offer and the smart usage of the space. For example, a two-bedroom with flex room is a significantly different price point than a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom, and we intentionally imagined the building that way.
Share some details about the outdoor spaces and the most impressive amenities at Rose Hill.
Brod: Rose Hill offers an abundance of outdoor space that allows our residents to get fresh air from the ground floor to the 37th-floor outdoor terrace. We have seen that since the start of the pandemic and people being indoors, outdoor space is one of the most sought-after amenities that buyers are attracted to. At Rose Hill, within the lobby, there is a private lounge that we call The Blue Room and it’s the perfect space to work remotely or just hang out and relax. It is equipped with multiple seating areas and tables, Wi-Fi and a wet bar. It is also adjacent to a beautifully landscaped garden courtyard and lobby library.
At the top of the building, Rose Hill offers a sky lounge and private residents club. The club encompasses the entire floor and has amazing views, with spaces like a private dining room and game room present. The pool, which is part of the wellness club at the base of the building, is one of my favorite spaces. It’s 50 feet long and takes inspiration from the public bathhouses of the 30s and 40s and the spirit of the Normandie ship. The space is truly spectacular and has been designed with hand-crafted, green oxide-glazed tiled walls. Rose Hill also has a dry heat wellness sauna, a pet salon and grooming tub and space for private storage.
Considering it’s been almost a year since many people started working from home, how is this project suitable for today’s way of living?
Brod: We didn’t predict the pandemic when we were in the development phase of Rose Hill, but our innovative and forward-thinking design has proven effective in today’s market. The flex spaces are perfect in this work-from-home era and were created to grow with the unit’s occupants, as I mentioned earlier. These rooms are useful especially during this time when our work and home lives are all under one roof and people want some kind of separation. Privacy or alone time in general is now really a luxury. If residents need a change of scenery from their apartments but still want to work remotely, they can use one of Rose Hill’s common library spaces within the lobby or the 37th-floor private resident’s lounge.
We have also seen many prospective buyers inquire about premium air-filtration systems as this is now of the utmost importance. In direct response to the pandemic, we incorporated high-efficiency air filters in all common and amenity spaces, including higher efficiency MERV 15 filters in the ground floor lobby. These filters constantly clean the air that is circulated throughout each of the spaces by removing dust and other particles. Our homes were also designed to prevent transmission of air between units by utilizing enhanced details at the perimeter walls and floor slabs.
All residences also feature operable windows that allow for residents to open the windows for fresh air whenever they want. Lastly, as people look to avoid the subway and find alternative means of transportation, Rose Hill’s NoMad location and inventive bike room have also proven to be crucial.
Oh, and we didn’t forget about all the packages and deliveries people want and need these days. We also thought of all of the back-of-house needs to store all of the residents’ packages, dry cleaning and food deliveries.
How is technology implemented in this particular project?
Ruddy: Technology has been important for developers, owner/operators and architects in addressing challenges raised by the pandemic. Touchless controls have become more popular, as have virtual concierge systems. We’re seeing a lot more interest also in advanced mechanical systems, which can have a significant impact on limiting viral spread. Rose Hill features these kinds of high-efficiency air filters in shared areas.
Promoting wellness in the planning stage is also something we believe is important. Designing interior layouts so that shared spaces and individual residences have cross ventilation and access to light and air, and providing dedicated mudroom or foyer spaces for transitioning from the outdoors and public areas into the individual home interior—these are ideas we consistently apply to our projects.
READ ALSO: Design Strategies for a Post-Pandemic World
To what extent has the health crisis impacted architecture and design in New York City?
Ruddy: In many ways, the pandemic has put renewed focus on issues we’ve been working to address for a while, including how architecture and design can improve health and wellness. More development and design teams are now focused on incorporating outdoor space, enhancing the flexibility of residential units, adding amenities that support well-being and specifying natural materials and healthy finishes. These are all positive elements.
In general, the health crisis has also highlighted how important it is to have a home that is safe and nurturing. It’s good to see a widespread recognition that thoughtfully designed homes can really make our lives better—physically, psychologically and spiritually.