I have never rented an apartment in New York City where the listing has come with a floorplan. I just assume the one room is in a classic rectangle shape and that the kitchen will either be next to my bed, or in a tiny alcove somewhere off the room (jackpot!). Others, however, rent — buy, even — apartments in New York City that come with floorplans that resemble a complex blueprint that gets unfurled prior to a caper. Architect Rosario Candela only dealt in the latter.
Candela was an architect who immigrated to New York from Italy in the early 1900s, and started his career in the 1920s. He went on to make "a permanent name for himself by becoming an influential force in transforming the way the wealthiest in New York City lived." He built mansions into our skyline, luxury residences that towered over the city's charming walk-ups—they're all over the place, and "have become status symbols for the city with a long-lasting economic impact and history." While most of his work is in Manhattan, you'll also find coveted Candela buildings in Brooklyn and Palm Beach.
Rosario Candela came of age professionally in an era when the city’s 19th century mansions and townhouses were being torn down and their residents adapting to apartment living. Working within a community of fellow architects, real estate developers, builders, and interior designers, Candela met that demand by creating residential buildings that mixed single-story, duplex, and triplex units, all with spacious and graceful plans. Some apartments even offered private, multi-story “maisonettes” at street level. Promoted with alluring marketing schemes, these structures established new standards of chic urban living for some of New York’s wealthiest citizens. Even today, almost a century after they were built, Candela’s buildings rank among the most prized in the city, and the phrase “designed by Rosario Candela” remains a real estate magnet.
This month, the Museum of the City of New York opened Elegance in the Sky: The Architecture of Rosario Candela, an exhibition exploring the legacy of Candela through photographs, ephemera, graphics, furnishings, and digital animation. Click through for a look, and feel the apartment envy grow as you gaze upon his often understated designs and sweet outdoor patios... you know, those setback rooftop terraces he created to deal with zoning laws that have become the platonic ideal of NYC outdoor space.
The exhibit runs through October 28th, and you can attend The Candela Allure panel on June 7th if you want to get out of your cramped apartment for a bit.