CityRealty: You have a chic industrial, yet classic style to your buildings and an “anti-iconic” philosophy. Is that your intention?
CityRealty: How do you feel about the proliferation of the all-glass building?
CityRealty:You started out as an architect, and then turned to development. What prompted that decision?
Cary Tamarkin: I had a thought about eight or 10 years ago when it became a real fad for people to use Pritzker Prize-winning architects. I said to people in my office, this is crazy. We make no money doing architecture. We should use someone else for architecture and just be developers and make a bunch of money.
There’s the artistic side, which I love, and the business side that I love. I’m not out to do a million projects a year. I’m not out to do the biggest building in the world. I just want to do beautiful buildings, and there’s nothing I’d rather do than spend my time designing them; Put the family to bed, and then sketch until 2 or 3 in the morning. If I were just an architect, it wouldn’t be that enjoyable. I’d have to take a bunch of clients just to keep cash flow going. It’s a terrible business. It’s wonderful to do, but a terrible business. The great thing about doing both is that I don’t have to take any architectural job except my own.
CityRealty: Your style is a perfect match for the High Line. Now that 508 West 24th Street is sold out, what are your plans for 550 West 29th Street?
CityRealty: When you’re viewing a site to build from the ground up, what are you looking for?
Cary Tamarkin: The numbers that people are selling sites for now have gotten totally out of control. So the whole market’s changing. It doesn’t make sense, and there’s going to be a lot of collateral damage at the end of the cycle because there are a lot of new developers, and it’s a hard thing to do correctly. There’s acquisition prices, hard costs, construction prices. So the price of doing the whole building will not support the prices that you can get for the apartments when they’re done. So if I’m going to build anything in this environment, it’s got to be a great site.
A great site means a bunch of things. It could mean extraordinary views or on the river. We’ve done a couple of buildings like that. It could be an interesting place, like on a park for example. It could be in a zoning district or area that allows me to build with no height limit; I’d really like to do a tall building. It has to be unique, some place that we have a shot at making art. That’s what we try to do and make money while we’re doing it.
CityRealty: In addition to being the architect of 10 Sullivan, you also did the interiors. Is the interior designer hat new for you?