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The Dillon, New York, United States

Tuesday 06 Jul 2010

The Dillon packs it in with a punch

Michael Moran 
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‘Lean, mean and smart’ residential complex in New York solves apartment hunting woes 

Despite a slowed economy, the quest for the quintessential New York apartment is alive and well. For the discerning buyer there are many new residential buildings to choose from. One of the more interesting ones is the Dillon, a new condominium building located at 405 West 53rd Street on Manhattan’s far west side in Hells Kitchen. Designed by Smith Miller Hawkinson Architects, the Dillon is designed from the inside out to be ‘lean, mean and smart’ with an economy of means that doesn’t skimp on style and quality. Charged by its developer client, SDS Procida, to ‘fit the most product’ into the building, architects Henry Smith Miller and Christian Uhl exploited the building’s sections and plans looking for ways to optimize views, capture more light and create better layouts. What they came up with is a building that is decidedly different for New York and unique among its peers- projecting a dense fabric for city living that melds maisonette duplex and studio apartments into a cosmopolitan weave. More European than American in feel, the Dillon houses 83 apartments in a hybrid structure that is part tower and part bar building that owes a great deal of debt to Le Corbusier’s Unite de Habitation.

The tower element houses seven stories of simplex units and the bar building houses a mix of duplex and triplex maisonettes. The two elements are linked by through building circulation corridors that occur at the 4th and 7th floors. The mix of duplex and triplex maisonettes are stacked in a skip-top fashion with no common corridor in between. This organization creates a building section of remarkable economy and results in more of the building volume being owned by the shareholders and less common space to take care of. But the real beauty of the skip stop plan is that it creates floor thru units that enjoy cross ventilation and provides for a rich mix of housing types rarely seen in contemporary housing projects. Many of the units have private outdoor space and layouts that appeal to families with a smart blend of private and communal space. The Dillon is wrapped in an elegant curtain wall that angles out over the sidewalk in a zigzag fashion to extend the living space whilst making the most of the light and views.

More than an efficient machine for living, the Dillon is an attractive building that is well crafted and put together in an intelligent way; the kind of building we should look to build more of in our cities.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

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