In the tiny club of women who work in the male-dominated profession of architecture, Annabelle Selldorf looms large. Since founding her firm in 1988, Selldorf has created a string of spare, clean-lined museums, galleries, and apartment buildings across Manhattan that may be small-scale and understated by current starchitect standards (she’s been nicknamed the “Queen of Stealth”), but are eye-catching all the same.
Commenting on Selldorf’s signature New York building, 200 11th Avenue, a 19-story high-rise in West Chelsea, George Ranalli, the dean of City College’s Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, says, “It’s very elegant, expressive, and a good addition to the skyline. It fits into the city.” Those are words that could well apply to many of Selldorf’s neatly composed Modernist structures. “She’s doing very well from my standpoint,” Ranalli adds.
But despite all her design achievements, Selldorf in recent years has become well known for creating residences that minimize a chronic and frustrating city headache: where to park a car. Condos don’t get much auto-friendlier than 200 11th Avenue, as most owners have a garage on the same floor as their homes, just a few steps from their living rooms. (Celebrities such as Nicole Kidman like the tower; it’s considered photographer-proof as residents can drive right into the building.)
And Selldorf’s newest project, 42 Crosby Street, a nine-unit condo in Soho, may draw similar attention, not only for its sleek design, but also for squeezing 10 private spaces beneath the ground on a compact site in a restrictive landmark district. The prices of those spaces will likely turn heads: $1 million a pop. But don’t let those whiz-bang extras obscure the beauty of Selldorf’s work, say her fans. “There is nothing gimmicky about anything she does,” Leonard Steinberg, the president of real estate brokerage Urban Compass, and a longtime resident of 200 11th Avenue, explains. “There’s a sense of balance and order to everything. She’s an extraordinary talent.”
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