A Lobby Designed by a Pre-Eminent Designer

Increasingly the value of apartments in New York is determined in part by what is known as “curb appeal” or the design and maintenance of the exterior of the building and the lobby.  Developers are spending more effort and money today to make the entrances as modern and edgy as possible to attract high-end buyers.

One of the luxury buildings Matthew Adam Properties manages was a forerunner of this type of thinking back in the 1960s, says Ira Meister, president and CEO of Matthew Adam Properties.

Raymond Loewy the Father of Industrial Design

“Plaza Tower, the luxury apartment building at 118 East 60th Street is noteworthy for several factors,” Meister says.  “The 232-unit, 34-story building is a midblock high-rise, just down the block from Bloomingdale’s with an attractive circular driveway and a fountain.  But, most noteworthy and unknown to many is designer of the lobby. It was Raymond Loewy, who is known as the ‘father of industrial design.’ In fact, this is the only residential lobby that Loewy designed.”

While Loewy may not be known to many, the average American comes across his designs almost daily.   Included are the slenderized Coca-Cola bottle, the logos for Shell Oil and Exxon, the interiors of Saturn I and V space capsules as well as Skylab.  He designed packages, cars, appliances, and numerous logos.

Modernize and Keep the Integrity of the Design

“Loewy called his design concept ‘beauty through function and simplification,’” Meister says, “and it is evident in the lobby of Plaza Tower.  When it was time to upgrade the lobby our challenge was to modernize it while respecting the integrity of Loewy’s design.”

Loewy’s open-air design included marble and terrazzo floors, a gold-leaf dome, and an ancient Buddha in a niche.

“We replaced the furnishings without taking away from the design element,” Meister said.

One notable change was in the lighting.  Consistent with the “Green” initiatives in Matthew Adam properties, energy efficient lighting was added that both improved the look of the space, made the lighting more dramatic and reduced energy costs.

“We are proud to have worked with the designer and contractor on this project and were able to respect the integrity of the design done by a pioneer in industrial and consumer design,” Meister said.

Young Women Encouraged to Consider Careers in Property Management

Over the past several decades, an increasing number of women have joined the ranks of property managers, notes Ira Meister, President and CEO, Matthew Adam Properties, Inc., a premier residential management firm.

One of the best is Kristen Storino, a Senior Asset Manager at Matthew Adam Properties, who has worked as a construction project coordinator as well as a property manager.

Meister said Kristen was asked to speak as part of an innovative mentorship program organized by the Professional Women in Construction to encourage young girls in New York City to consider opportunities in non-traditional, male-dominated professions such as construction and property management.

Kristen spoke to some 30 freshman and sophomores at the Bronx Design and Construction Academy.

“I shared my experiences, struggles and strengths as a young women starting out in general contracting, “Kristen said. “My journey has transitioned me into property management, but construction had always been the base from where I started.”

Kristen described her responsibilities and the talents and characteristics that make for a good property manager.

“Residential property must be taken care of from both a physical and a resident-relations standpoint, and that is what a property manager does,” she told the group. Kristen said she maintains and upgrades facilities while acting as liaison between the board of directors and the residents. She is responsible for a number of properties and “the job can involve frantic work, unusual hours, and extremely difficult schedule coordination.”

“It takes strong communications skills, strong organizational skills, and a flair for numbers,” she said. As property manager she has the most client contact when disasters occur, such as a flooded basement, leaking roof or heating system breakdown. This can be daunting for those who don’t perform well in crisis situations, she said, but she finds the more she anticipates potential problems and prevents them, the fewer there are to deal with.

The best feature of the profession is the chance to work with a variety of people on a number of different tasks. “I never know what my day’s going to be like. It’s a race to keep on top of everything. I love it.”

While property managers spend a lot of their day dealing with paperwork and talking on the telephone, the problems they deal with vary greatly from week to week and month to month, giving most property managers a sense of creative challenge that keeps the job fresh.