The William Lescaze House in 1934 via MCNY
These days, ultra-contemporary towers seem to pop up every day, and if you go to a review meeting at the Landmarks Preservation Commission, you’ll see quite a few applications for glassy extensions to historic townhouses. But these modern additions weren’t always so common. In fact, it wasn’t until 1936 that New York City got its first modern residence–the William Lescaze House.
William Lescaze was a Swiss-born, American architect who is credited with pioneering modernism in America. Along with his partner, George Howe, he completed the first International Style skyscraper in the country in 1930, the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society (PSFS) Building. Unfortunately, his high-profile career didn’t go much further than this, but he did design several uptown townhouses, one of which was his personal home and office and was the first of its kind in NYC.