Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How condos are named

The Times has a dandy piece today on why every new condo name these days seems to have something to do with the sky.

. . .the floor-to-ceiling glass towers popping up in record numbers across New York City are starting to sound an awful lot alike.

Two new high-rises, one on the Upper East Side, the other in Brooklyn, a have the same name: Azure, a deep shade of blue. Seem familiar? It should. On the Lower East Side, another new building is called Blue.

Sky House, under construction on East 29th Street, is not to be confused with the Cielo (Italian for “sky”), on East 83rd Street. And then there are Star Tower, in Long Island City, and Solaria, in the Bronx.

It is an unintended consequence of the city’s historic building boom: a traffic jam of similar sounding names. To showcase the sweeping views from buildings with huge, wrap-around windows, real estate developers are flocking to a set of words that evoke the sky, clouds and stars.

Builders say there are only so many ways to describe a glass box, the undisputed architectural aesthetic of the moment. Similar names, they argue, are inevitable.


(And what, no My Blue Heaven as a name for a condo?)


Trends in New York building names are not new. Builders seized on the American West around 1900, producing the Wyoming, on West 55th Street, a block away from the Oregon, on West 54th, and across the park from the Idaho, on East 48th. And, of course, there is the Dakota, on West 72nd Street.

Soon after, a wave of Francophilia yielded the Bordeaux, the Cherbourg and the Paris. Native American motifs were enshrined in the Iroquois, the Seminole and the Waumbek.

Trees (Laurel), Greek mythology (Helena) and Spanish cities (Madrid) have all woven their way into the city’s skyline.

And mailing addresses are often used as building names, especially when the street is considered prestigious, like Park Avenue or Perry Street, in the West Village.

Occasionally, names flop. When developers converted the Stanhope Hotel, across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue, into luxury apartments two years ago, they called the project the Stanhope. Few takers emerged, and the name was discarded in favor of the street address, 995 Fifth Avenue.

What is striking about the latest wave is just how closely — or haphazardly — some of the names overlap.

The goal, after all, in a crowded real estate market like New York, is to stand out, not to blend in, said Mr. Wine, of Related. Most of the units in the new towers go for $1 million or more.

“You need to be distinctive,” he said, “and a good name can do that.”

Oh, lordy, there's more. But my head is going to explode.

1 comment:

anon. said...

". .the floor-to-ceiling glass towers popping up in record numbers across New York City are starting to sound an awful lot alike."

Where th f* have NY Times been? They're just realizing this now?