Kips Bay Towers

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Kips Bay Towers
Kips Bay Plaza North Building.jpg
North Building (2010)
General information
Location30th Street to 33rd Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue
New York, NY, United States
Coordinates40°44′34″N 73°58′33″W / 40.74278°N 73.97583°W / 40.74278; -73.97583Coordinates: 40°44′34″N 73°58′33″W / 40.74278°N 73.97583°W / 40.74278; -73.97583
Opening1960 (south tower), 1965 (north tower)[1]
Technical details
Floor count20
Design and construction
ArchitectI.M. Pei, S. J. Kessler and James Ingo Freed

Kips Bay Towers is a large two-building condominium complex in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan with a total of 1,118 units. The complex was designed by architects I.M. Pei and S. J. Kessler,[1] with the involvement of James Ingo Freed,[2] in the brutalist style[3][4] and completed in 1965.[1] The project was developed by Webb & Knapp.[5]

The complex occupies an area of three city blocks, or approximately 7.5 acres (3.0 ha), bounded by First and Second avenues and East 30th and 33rd streets. The complex includes two residential high-rise buildings each with 20 floors. Additionally, there is a three-acre private garden between the two towers featuring landscaped lawns as well as recreational spaces. Kips Bay Towers is home to more than 4,000 residents.[6]


The project, originally known as Kips Bay Plaza, was conceived as a middle-income rental project, but was converted to condominium apartments in the mid-1980s, despite controversy with holdout tenants.[7]

The project was originally built as a slum clearance project under Title I of the Federal housing act of 1949. In November 1981, a plan to convert Kips Bay Towers into condominiums became effective, however, the conversion was bogged down in litigation. By 1984, approximately 70% of the apartments had been purchased, 50% by existing tenants and the remaining 20% by non-residents.[8]

Kips Bay Towers was built on the site of the first Phipps Houses, at 321-337 East 31st Street, designed by Grosvenor Atterbury in 1906. The Phipps family had built three six-story tenements with 142 apartments between Second and Third avenues. Phipps allowed the 31st Street houses go in a condemnation proceeding, ultimately resulting in the construction of the Kips Bay Towers.[9]

Architect I. M. Pei had originally wanted a large sculpture by Picasso placed in the middle of the development's park. William Zeckendorf, the head of the development company, Webb & Knapp, told Pei that he could have either the sculpture or fifty saplings, and Pei chose the trees.[5]

In the mid-1990s, J. D. Carlisle Development Corporation constructed a retail facility along Second Avenue from 30th Street to 32nd Street connected to the Kips Bay Towers complex.[10] The retail construction was built on the site of "Kips Bay Gardens" a park and playground that was owned and operated by the Kips Bay Towers organization. Kips Bay Gardens was constructed at the time of the opening of the "Towers" in the early 1960s, and was open to the public till security concerns about the increasing homeless population prompted the privatizing of the park in 1983, leading to backlash from the surrounding community.[11]

Over the past several years, Kips Bay Towers has under gone an exciting exterior transformation of the steps leading up to the entrances, the plantings around the property and the garden, the garden's lounge chairs, tables and chairs, and its watering system. Contractors are putting the finishing touches on the exterior tile and all four interior lobbies and elevators. An entirely new HVAC system has been installed in the lobbies. The owners are all ready seeing property values appreciate along with the quality of life at the property.


  1. ^ a b c White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot (2000), AIA Guide to New York City (4th ed.), New York: Three Rivers Press, ISBN 978-0-8129-3107-5, pp.218-219
  2. ^ Dunlap, David W. (December 17, 2005). "James Ingo Freed, 75, Dies; Designed Holocaust Museum". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  3. ^ "Beautiful Brutes". The New York Times. April 24, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  4. ^ Muschamp, Herbert (November 17, 1996). "Considering the Once and Future Whitney Museum". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ Ramirez, Anthony (November 30, 1997). "The Hole That Swallowed the Swings". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  7. ^ Hinds, Michael Decourcy (October 26, 1986). "For New Yorkers, Is There Life After Rent Deregulation?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  8. ^ Blair, William G. (May 10, 1984). "Condiminium Sales at Kips Bay Towers Are Upheld By Judge". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  9. ^ Gray, Christopher (November 23, 2003). "Henry Phipps and Phipps Houses; Millionaire's Effort to Improve Housing for the Poor". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  10. ^ Oser, Alan S. (June 16, 1999). "A Mixed-Use Tower for Theaters and Apartments". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  11. ^ Blair, William (November 9, 1983). "CLOSING OF KIPS BAY GARDEN DRAWS FIRE". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 20 June 2015.

External links[edit]

Real Estate Site