Those familiar with pre-war architecture use the term “Beaux Arts” liberally, but what features exactly does this category of architecture encompass, and from where does the style originate? Architecture experts attribute the traditional Beaux-Arts style to Les Beaux Arts, the French-inspired Fine Arts movement. During the 19th and 20th centuries, several renowned Beaux-Arts architects studied at the associated Écoles des Beaux-Arts in France before unleashing their talents on Europe. The Beaux-Arts architectural style celebrated features often present in classical Greek and Roman architecture such as ornate detailing, impressive columns, stately archways, and expert masonry. Today, the Beaux-Arts form is experiencing an exciting revival, particularly in new luxury residential buildings of major metropolitan areas.
A trained eye can easily detect elements of the “New Beaux” movement defining the wealthier blocks of New York City’s Upper West Side. Stunning structures that were once apartment buildings, hotels, and government properties are undergoing extensive makeovers in an effort to appeal to today’s elite clientele while preserving such structures’ Old World charm. Take the Upper West Side condos known as The Chatsworth, for example. This pre-war gem, which was originally built in 1904 as luxury housing overlooking the Hudson River, has been restored topay homage to the building’s original design. Today, The Chatsworth shines a new light of modern sophistication on the historic architectural style from which it originally emerged.
The first indication of The Chatsworth’s “New Beaux” influence is its stunning, pale exterior. The handsome steel gates surrounding the building have been carefully preserved, demonstrating the lasting metalwork typical of early 1900s luxury gated homes. The building’s breathtaking limestone façade offers a rare look into the past. Original molding restored to illuminate delicate details line the tall double-door frames, and carefully hand-sculpted tiers of cherubs, fruit, and stags peek from below layered windows. Crossing through the main entryway, one enjoys a veritable treat for the eyes. The double doors feature integrated original metalwork gilded to breathe in new life, while the coffered ceilings and hand-carved statues of the lobby add new dimensions of intricacy. Walnut-paneled pillars, which stand in formal rows leading to the 24-hour attendant’s desk, are reminiscent of those seen in the aforementioned classical Roman and Greek designs.
The residences of The Chatsworth, while designed to accommodate an impeccably modern lifestyle, serve as an extension of the classical New Beaux Arts themes introduced by the building’s exterior. Foyers feature coffered ceilings and elegant chandeliers, herringbone oak floors provide a through line in each home’s design, and spacious living areas echo many of the features seen in the dramatic foyers. While wooden architraves add spots of beauty to deep doorways, gray marble in the kitchens as well as the rich, oak floors harken back to the natural materials found in many original Beaux-Arts buildings, adding a touch of timelessness to the overall aesthetic. In the master bathroom, imported Italian marble brings texture and warmth to this intimate area of the home, while the freestanding bathtub beckons one further into this welcoming retreat.
The breathtaking design and structural integrity of The Chatsworth have landed it a title of official New York City Landmark. Featuring architectural qualities that surpass its relatively short history, The Chatsworth is the perfect piece to consider when detailing the features of a “New Beaux” building, and will undoubtedly remain an Upper West Side treasure for many years to come.