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Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures The Architecture and Development of New York City with Andrew S. Dolkart
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The Osborne
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The Osborne
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Another one of the great apartment houses from this era is the Osborne, which is on Seventh Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street, an area where a number of important early apartment houses appear. The Osborne is a massive, rock-faced stone building, loosely modeled on an Italian-Renaissance palace. But what's particularly interesting about it is how this building adapts a different mode of entry. At the Dakota the idea was to separate people into many different, rather small entrances. But at the Osborne you walk into a palace. It uses marble and mosaic, and it was a way for the people who moved to this building to be able to think that they were living in some great palatial building. And if you had visitors coming, they arrived in this extraordinary lobby, and they knew that they had arrived at someplace important, that it wasn't a cheap apartment house at all, but that it was a grand and impressive building. And this idea of designing impressive lobbies is something that remains with us to this day.

Most apartment houses in New York, whether for the middle class or luxury apartment houses, are designed with very beautiful lobbies with comfortable furniture in them, places where you can ostensibly sit. Many times they have fireplaces in them, the fireplace being a symbol of home. Now, these fireplaces were probably never lit, but it gave the illusion of a homey interior as soon as you walked into the building.


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