This Midcentury Apartment Is Like a Time Warp in the Best Possible Way

Hadley Keller
Photo credit: Ann Broder, courtesy The Corcoran Group

From House Beautiful

It's true what they say: Good design never really goes out of style. One newly-listed apartment in New York City is proving that maxim. A four-bedroom co-op on East 71st Street, designed by Leslie Larson in 1961, is now on the market for $4.95 million and it remains largely unchanged from its original state—which was once featured in none other than House Beautiful.

Photo credit: Ann Broder, courtesy The Corcoran Group

Located in the sought-after Townsend House, the apartment originally belonged to ophthalmologist Herbert Katzen and his family (Katzen would go on to achieve acclaim for introducing intraocular lens implants to China). In 1961, he and his wife were among the first families to purchase a condo in the newly constructed Townsend House, and they enlisted modernist designer Leslie Larson to devise a zen-like home that would connect to his ophthalmology office in the same building. The Boston-based Larson was primarily a lighting designer and wood sculptor, and the home he designed for the Katzens, fittingly, features extensive, Japanese-inspired wall paneling and a clever manner of diffusing light which gives the entire apartment a soft glow.

Photo credit: Hadley Keller
Photo credit: Ann Broder, courtesy The Corcoran Group

In addition to Larson's built-in designs, the home is filled to the brim with other masterpieces of modern design, including furniture by the likes of Hans Wegner, Poul Kjærholm, and Finn Juhl. "Leslie Larson and the Katzens went furniture shopping in Copenhagen for a week during the design process," says listing agent Debbie Baum (whose grandparents were also original owners in the building, and knew the Katzens). They shipped a container of furniture back to New York City—where the style was just beginning to catch on—and Larson integrated it into his architectural designs. The result is a Danish-meets-Japanese midcentury oasis in the middle of Manhattan.

Photo credit: Ann Broder, courtesy The Corcoran Group

This is the first time the unit has come up for sale, and it remains largely untouched, save for a few modern updates: Herbert Katzen's son oversaw a renovation of the unit's closets, HVAC, kitchen, and bathrooms, swapping out dated midcentury features for top-of-the-line appliances and heated floors. Additionally, the younger Katzen rewired Larson's original light fixtures with LED bulbs, creating the same effect in a longer lasting, more environmentally-friendly manner.

Photo credit: Ann Broder, courtesy The Corcoran Group

As if the interiors weren't enough to swoon over, the unit also features a stunning 1,517 square-foot private terrace—you know, if you need to just escape from all that good design. As Baum summarizes, "It's a really special listing."

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