The Times also describes a developing fashion for all-glass high-rise bathrooms.
Among the many vertiginous renderings for the penthouse apartments at 432 Park Avenue, the nearly 1,400-foot-high Cuisenaire rod that topped off last month, is one of its master (or mistress) of the universe bathrooms, a glittering, reflective container of glass and marble. The image shows a huge egg-shaped tub planted before a 10-foot-square window, 90 or more stories up. All of Lower Manhattan is spread out like the view from someoneâ€™s private plane.
Talk about power washing.
The dizzying aerial baths at 432 Park, while certainly the highest in the city, are not the only exposed throne rooms in New York. All across Manhattan, in glassy towers soon to be built or nearing completion, see-through chambers will flaunt their owners, naked, toweled or robed, like so many museum vitrines â€” although the audience for all this exposure is probably avian, not human.
It seems the former touchstones of bathroom luxury (Edwardian England, say, or ancient Rome) have been replaced by the glass cube of the Apple store on Fifth Avenue. In fact, Richard Dubrow, marketing director at Macklowe Properties, which built 432 and that Apple store, described the penthouse â€œwet roomsâ€ (or shower rooms) in just those terms.
Everyone wants a window, said Vickey Barron, a broker at Douglas Elliman and director of sales at Walker Tower, a conversion of the old Verizon building on West 18th Street. â€œBut now it has to be Â a Window.â€ She made air quotes around the word. â€œNow what most people wanted in their living rooms, they want in their bathrooms. Theyâ€™ll say, â€˜What? No View?â€™ â€ …
If thereâ€™s a view, there should be glass,â€ [Minimalist architect John] Pawson said. â€œItâ€™s not about putting yourself on show, itâ€™s about enjoying whatâ€™s outside. Any exhibitionism is an unfortunate by-product. I think whatâ€™s really nice is that at this level youâ€™re creating a gathering space. You can congregate in the bathroom, you can even share the bath or bring a chair in.â€
On a recent Thursday, there were seven people standing in the master bathroom of an apartment on the 20th floor of 737 Park, another Macklowe project thatâ€™s a new conversion of a 1940s building by Handel Architects. (The apartment, three bedrooms in 4,336 square feet, is listed for $19.695 million.) At 21 by 11 feet, there was certainly room in the bathroom for a few more. Along two opposing walls, two toilets and two showers faced off behind glass walls. The by-now-familiar egg floated in the center of the room.
â€œSome people donâ€™t mind showing a little, and some donâ€™t mind showing a lot,â€ said Gary Handel, the principal of Handel Architects. â€œThey are totally comfortable in their bodies.â€ …
Nine of the buildingâ€™s C-line apartments expressed an even clearer idea: a wall of glass with two toilets at either end and a shower in the middle, which raised many an eyebrow among brokers and their clients because the toilets face each other. Design clarity â€” and a well-lit room â€” suggests questions about how private we want to be in our private spaces.
Jill Roosevelt, a broker at Brown Harris Stevens who has been leading her clients through a few of the new, glassy offerings, said 737 in particular sparked conversations about habits of intimacy. â€œItâ€™s about how much proximity do you want to your partner who is performing these tasks?â€ she said. â€œIt doesnâ€™t affect sales, but there is always a reaction, ranging from nonchalant to amusement. It depends on how comfortable you feel with your spouse or partner. My traditional couples will say, â€˜Weâ€™ll frost the glass.â€™ â€
One couple â€” â€œthis would be the amused couple,â€ Ms. Roosevelt said â€” pondered the dueling commodes of the C-line at 737 Park with interest. â€œWell, I guess we could watch each other read the newspaper,â€ the wife said finally. …
Privacy, of course, is not an absolute value, but a value that has changed over time and circumstances, as Winifred Gallagher, an author who has written about the behavioral and psychological science of place, pointed out.
â€œAnd like everything else, the rich can buy more of it,â€ she said. â€œIn the city, privacy is about shielding yourself from all the stimuli. Most of us canâ€™t drop the shield entirely even when weâ€™re in our own homes, because the city is right outside. But if youâ€™re high enough, you can waltz around pretending youâ€™re in the garden of Versailles.â€
Furthermore, Ms. Gallagher added, for many the bathroom can be the focus of a lot of anxiety. â€œYou have the scale and thereâ€™s the magnifying mirror so you donâ€™t put your makeup on and look like a clown,â€ she said. â€œAnd imagine yourself striding around the bathrooms with all that glass. It puts the pressure on you to be thin and fit, which are also perks of the rich. If youâ€™re thin and fit, why wouldnâ€™t you have this jewel box to show yourself off in?â€
Read the whole thing.
Ann Althouse observes: “the rich folk of New York don’t mind if you look at them naked while they use the bathroom… as long as you have to look way, way up.“