Residents have begun to move in to Related’s 261 Hudson Street in Hudson Square. The 12-story development holds 201 rental apartments, 41 of which were allocated through an affordable housing lottery launched in June 2016. The traditionally-styled design comes from Robert A.M. Stern Architects, with Ismael Leyva Architects acting as the architect of record.
The 26,704-square-foot site faces Hudson Street and stretches through the block to Renwick Street to the west. The original building permit, filed in July 2013, indicates a total floor area of 204,332 square feet. The residences span 160,751 square feet, resulting in an average of 800 square feet per unit. Ground-level retail on Hudson Street accounts for 6,728 square feet and community space adds 602 square feet. The combined square footage lends a floor-to-area ratio of 6.29.
Diagrams posted by the Department of Buildings show a structure that neatly fills the zoning envelope. The front façade rises 80.5 feet, four-and-a-half feet below the permissible limit. Three pyramidal dormers grace the ten-foot-deep setback. The structure measures 120 feet to the main roof, which features a landscaped roof deck that opens upon the Hudson River four blocks to the west. The bulkhead brings the total height to 152 feet.
The massing aligns with 255 Hudson Street to the south, which was built under the same zoning conditions in 2006. The similarities between the two buildings end here, as the Handel Architects-designed, sheer glass façade of 255 Hudson Street contrasts sharply with the traditional style of its new neighbor.
Some Hudson Square developments, such as 77 Charlton Street in progress a few blocks northeast, emulate the loft aesthetic of the formerly industrial neighborhood. The red brick and limestone details of 261 Hudson Street, in contrast, draw inspiration from the pre-war apartment buildings that populate the Upper West Side.
In his 2009 book “Why Architecture Matters,” architecture critic Paul Goldberger remarked that an effective façade is “like a good plaid,” where horizontal and vertical elements interact without overwhelming one another. The designers of 261 Hudson utilized the approach to full effect. Vertical limestone bands frame window bays and building corners, lending crisp definition to the brick walls in between. Horizontal bands span every other floor and line the cornices.
The architects used dormers, a standard response to zoning constraints, to drive the building aesthetic. Prominent limestone mullions run from the base to dormer parapets, adding vertical élan to the sprawling horizontal structure. The dormer bays and subtly recessed strips of dark blue-gray brick visually break down the bulky structure into smaller sections.
Prominent window mullions channel the French Chateau style and reconcile the traditional aesthetic with the large, floor-to-ceiling windows currently in demand. The mullions matches the limestone bands and contribute to façade depth and texture.
The ground floor creates a visually defined base, using dark stone pediments and ribbed brick columns with limestone trim to frame floor-to-ceiling casement windows.
The oval residential lobby entrance opens upon Hudson Street, which sees heavy rush-hour traffic bound for the Holland Tunnel a few blocks south. A private garden at the building rear greets the quiet residential enclave along Renwick Street. A high red brick wall with limestone columns, punctured by window apertures and decked with octagonal light sconces, adds privacy.
Prior to redevelopment, a single-story, 21-foot-tall warehouse faced Hudson Street with a featureless brick wall. A commercial yard and a three-story, 39-foot-tall pre-war commercial building sat upon Renwick Street.
Demolition permits for both structures were filed in 2013, three weeks before the new building permit. The site was cleared by the summer of 2014 and the concrete-framed building rose over the course of 2015. Sidewalk scaffolds were dismantled around a month ago. The only remaining reminder of recent construction is a temporary house number tag, taped to the lobby door in anticipation of a permanent replacement, as well as a sidewalk fence that encloses the garden wall.
261 Hudson Street joins a residential cluster that rose in the southwest corner of Hudson Square years before the 2013 rezoning, which encouraged additional residential construction in the formerly industrial area. The project’s marketing places heavy emphasis on the building’s proximity to SoHo, which lies a few blocks east. Instead of directly emulating the style of either of the historic neighborhoods, the brick-and-limestone edifice exudes a distinct traditionalist revival character that adds a new flavor to the local sense of place.