To passersby, the building on the southeast corner of Manhattan’s 72nd Street and Lexington Avenue looks like a modest relic of the prewar era.
Look from above, however, and one will see a wholly different picture: A sleek, all-glass pavilion perched atop the more-than-a-century-old building. It was designed by one of today’s most sought-after modern architects, Japanese Pritzker Prize-winner Tadao Ando.
The pavilion is part of a two-level, modern penthouse Ando designed for Japan-born art dealer Kazuhito Yoshii, which is coming on the market for $22 million, according to listing agents Tal Alexander and Tyrone McKillen of Official.
Ando has compared the juxtaposition of the two architectural styles, the prewar and the more modern, to “a grandparent holding a grandchild,” said Yoshii, who moved from Tokyo to New York in 1988 and has lived in the penthouse since 2017.
The listing for the three-bedroom, roughly 2,500-square-foot apartment comes just weeks after another Ando property, a sprawling Malibu, Calif., megamansion, sold to Beyoncé and Jay-Z for about $200 million.
The origins of Yoshii’s penthouse date back close to a decade, when Yoshii purchased it as raw space—he described it as a concrete shell—from developer Harry Macklowe, who was converting the building from rentals to condominiums. The boutique building has 38 units, according to StreetEasy. Records show Yoshii, who opened his Yoshii Gallery in 1990 on Madison Avenue, bought the unit for about $9.2 million in 2014.
He said he and Ando had talked about working together for some time—they are longtime friends—and this seemed like the right fit. In all, the project took about five years to complete, he said. He declined to comment on exactly how much the project cost, saying only that it was millions of dollars.
Ando’s design for the penthouse mandated smooth lines, Yoshii said during a recent tour of the space, as recordings of the chants of Cistercian monks played from speakers hidden inside a plasterboard-clad fireplace. All light switches, door handles and electrical outlets are completely hidden and the doors are mounted on tracks so as to slide open and shut.
Walking into the penthouse feels like entering another dimension. From the elevator, visitors enter a small vestibule screened off from the apartment by a sliding door with frosted glass. In the corner, a tiny green sprout pokes up from between the floorboards, as if an errant seed might have been accidentally planted. In fact, it is a minuscule sculpture by the Japanese artist Yoshihiro Suda.
The apartment’s main floor is bright white, thanks to the use of untreated plasterboard walls. Light filters in through sunken windows screened off by translucent screens. The floors are solid oak imported from Denmark, while the furniture, all designed or approved by Ando, includes tables made of Japanese hinoki cypress wood. The apartment is being sold furnished.
The main bathroom has its own artistic flourish in the form of a pear sculpture by the artist Ugo Rondinone. In the kitchen, an enormous cone-shaped skylight illuminates the space.
A spiral staircase leads from the living room to the rooftop glass pavilion, which has an outdoor “vertical garden” by the French botanist and artist Patrick Blanc. The construction of the pavilion required approval by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, since the building is located in a historic district, and got the green light only on the condition that it not be seen from the street, Yoshii said. The pavilion is surrounded by a paved area, and has a secret door leading to an outdoor dining area with a barbecue.
The property is different from many of Ando’s signature works in that it doesn’t involve the use of concrete. For structural reasons, concrete couldn’t be used for this project, according to the book “Tadao Ando: Living with Light” by Philip Jodidio.
While Yoshii said he considers the apartment itself a piece of art, he has also filled the space with other valuable pieces by artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Damien Hirst. Those works aren’t included in the sale of the apartment.
Yoshii said he is selling the condo because he is planning to spend more time in Europe, and no longer needs such a significant space in New York. His gallery in New York will remain open, he said.
In the first quarter, luxury condo sales in Manhattan were down 37.5% year-over-year, while prices fell nearly 13%, according to a recent report by Douglas Elliman. However, Alexander said he still sees demand for turnkey and “design-driven” homes.
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