Christies Real Estate Magazine

76

PROPERT Y SPOT L I GHT

G

aze up at the façade of this smart, four-story townhouse located in New York’s prestigious Sutton Place, and its architectural significance may not be immediately obvious.

Step inside the classic, moss-green door however, and clues to a revolutionary former owner become instantly more apparent. Located centrally in the cool, marble-floored entrance hall, a spectacular spiral staircase winds its way gracefully through the very core of what was once a traditional Victorian property, while at the top sits a glittering geometric skylight, which allows light to flow freely downwards, bathing the many levels below. No ordinary staircase and no ordinary skylight, this breathtaking structural combination is in fact the work of world-renowned architect I.M. Pei. Having purchased the house from Laura “Polly” Delano, a cousin of President Theodore Roosevelt in the early 1970s, Pei and his wife, Eileen, occupied the property from 1972 onwards following an extensive rebuild, and it was here that the iconic Chinese-American design master lived until his death in May 2019, aged 102. One of the most lauded architects of the 20th and 21st centuries and winner of countless awards, including the prestigious Pritzker prize, Pei was known for his Modernist style and an astounding body of work, including the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, and perhaps his most famous commission, the dazzling glass and metal pyramid at the Musée de Louvre in Paris. The same lean, reserved, and simple style that he

used to create his staggering portfolio of art museums, concert halls, academic structures, hospitals, office towers, and civic buildings can be clearly seen as you move through this residential property, his own home for almost 47 years. Gravitate towards the rear of the house, and Pei’s magical touch once again becomes clear as a double-pane glass door, designed and installed by the architect, opens up on to the private, bricked garden. Here, as with the other three stories that all benefit from the same glass treatment, the views across the neatly manicured private park—open only to residents of the 14 homes that comprise Sutton Place— towards the striking Queensboro Bridge, the East River, and Roosevelt Island are nothing short of astonishing. Thanks to the addition of this

Airy and light: Highlights of the property include a stunning spiral staircase and geometric skylight ( top ), while the residents- only park ( opposite ) offers a leafy city retreat.

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