Pyramid Apartment House (Jul, 1940)

Pyramid Apartment House

EVERY tenant has an outside apart ment in a pyramid-shaped house de signed by Edwin A. Koch, New York architect. Some time ago, Koch planned a bank of apartments for a steeply sloping hillside. Then the bold idea occurred to him of joining four of the dwellings, back to back in a pattern like a cross, with the result shown above. Carrying modern set-back architecture to its logical extreme, the huge building provides a private terrace, with penthouse airiness, for every tenant above the fourth floor. No windows face the interior, a naturally ventilated hollow core fourteen stories high. Its base of sixty-four-foot diameter provides ample space for cars to discharge and pick up passengers at passageways leading to the elevators. Pedestrians use exterior doors. Apartments are supplied from a central plant with washed, humidified, and heated air in winter and with unheated air for summer coolness. Open corners of the building’s cross-shaped base provide a two-way automobile drive, a parking space for visitors, and two covered garages for tenants.

  1. Tom says: July 29, 20118:08 am

    Looks pretty neat. I assume it was never built. The apts. I lived in when younger faced brick walls,ventilation shaft, or garbage area. Of course being constantly broke had a lot to do with my choices.

  2. Rick Auricchio says: July 29, 20118:46 am

    It’s definitely neat, but I’ll bet economics prevented it from ever being built. The rentable floor space is about a third of that in a conventional rectangular building.

    Interior apartments still generate rental income, though not as much as the perimeter units.

  3. Hirudinea says: July 29, 20118:47 am

    “There is no Dana only Zuul.” Looks like the guy who built the apartment in Ghostbusters did some other work as well.

  4. Kenneth Wright says: July 29, 20119:28 am

    Perhaps some kind Cousin Jonathan will enlighten my ignorance here. “Interior apartment” is a term I’ve never met with in the UK – it can’t mean an apartment without windows, surely?

  5. Kenneth Wright says: July 29, 20119:30 am

    Outside windows, I mean.

  6. Charlene says: July 29, 20119:32 am

    @Rick, you’re right that the design would be completely inappropriate for New York, but it would be perfect for a place like here in Winnipeg. The low cost of land combined with the surprisingly high demand for luxury condos would make this design very attractive to buyers. Replace the courts with a skating rink and it would be the most popular development in the city.

    And haven’t we seen this architect before?

  7. Charlene says: July 29, 20119:37 am

    @Kenneth Wright, I think an interior apartment’s windows face either an interior courtyard or the space between the legs of an H-shaped building – what I’d call a titular courtyard.

    The H shape is an efficient way of using space while ensuring every room has a window. H-shaped buildings are common in older districts in North America such as our Exchange District, but I don’t know how common they are in the UK.

  8. Rick Auricchio says: July 29, 20114:36 pm

    Thanks for clarifying, Charlene. I wasn’t thinking about windows when I said “interior apartment,” but of course they’d have windows!

  9. Devak says: July 29, 201111:36 pm

    This is so wonderful. I’ve always wanted to live in a building that was copied after an ancient Mayan monument used for human sacrifice.

  10. Repack Rider says: July 30, 20118:26 am

    Sucks to live on the north side.

  11. Rick s. says: July 30, 201110:48 am

    Although not an apartment building, here is something similar in New York. As I recall, the stepped construction was used to prevent too much blockage of light in that area of the city.…


  12. C.H. says: July 30, 201112:24 pm

    Streamlined Spook Central!

  13. Mike Brown says: August 1, 20117:22 am

    > As I recall, the stepped construction was used to prevent too much blockage of light in that area of the city.

    Stepped buildings in New York City were a result of a change to the zoning ordinance in 1916, which regulated the coverage of buildings by height, so that as the building got taller the set-back from the street had to increase.

    The building in the article reminds me of the yet-uncompleted (perhaps never-to-be-completed?) pyramidal hotel in North Korea.

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