All-Whirled: Architecture Critics Flip For Gehry's New Financial District Rental at 8 Spruce Street

Gehry Financial District Rental Luxury Rentals ManhattanWe've never been afraid to say it here at the Luxury Rentals Manhattan blog: Frank Gehry’s new Financial District rental at 8 Spruce Street is jaw-dropping. The Spruce Street project -- formerly known as Beekman Tower and still kind-of-known as 8 Spruce Street -- is called New York by Frank Gehry. Not only is the new Gehry rental the the tallest luxury residential building in New York City, it is also one of the most-celebrated new construction apartment buildings the city has seen in years.   If you move around the tower the shape changes constantly. Why? Well, because of its rumpled stainless skin, its curved windows and, perhaps, the vertiginous 76-story height that makes it look something like the Transformers’ headquarters. In short, 8 Spruce Street sits on the northern edge of the Financial District; west of Cass Gilbert’s 1913 Woolworth Building, east of McKim, Mead & White’s 1912 Municipal building, and at the top of any list of new Manhattan rental listings worth celebrating.

Donald Trump will almost certainly not like this, but Gehry’s tower is all of one foot taller than the Trump World Tower. More than that, though, 8 Spruce Street/New York By Gehry/That Building Everyone Is Talking About is in a class of its own. Aesthetically, it looks like nothing else: from the wrought exterior made up of 10,500 individual steel panels, to the ripples that run up and down the facade to the understated six-story brick foundation that will host a new public grammar school and a floor of hospital services, 8 Spruce Street is just different -- and miles more ambitious than anything Trump has attempted this side of his last haircut. The less obvious implications are more like a statement, and New York Times' Nicolai Ouroussoff frames it well: “He aims to replace the anonymity of the assembly line with an architecture that can convey the infinite variety of urban life.” When you see the tower in the skyline, Ouroussoff continues, a view comes up that “seems to lift Lower Manhattan out of its decade-long gloom.” In the same way that such pre-war luxury rental conversions such as 37 Wall Street or 71 Broadway or the NYC landmark at 20 Exchange Place defined the FiDi skyline during their era, Gehry's new Financial District rental redefines it today.

Joining Ouroussoff in his praise for Gehry's new rental tower is the New Yorker's Paul Goldberger, who termed 8 Spruce Street "one of the most beautiful towers downtown, and the first big apartment house worth talking about in more than a generation. It does what a work of architecture should do, which is to improve the lot of the people on the inside and at the same time contribute something to the experience of the people on the outside."

So: how can anyone in NYC real estate, Mr. Trump included, top that? We might have to wait a long time to find out.