GDSNY’s The Emerson is a love letter to New York


GDSNY’s The Emerson is a love letter to New York

We speak to architect and developer Michael Kirchmann of GDSNY about his work, approach and latest completion, The Emerson at 500 W25th Street, a boutique residential building on the Highline in New York

With the state of New York’s real estate market now very much up in the air, and as flocks of city dwellers quite literally run for the hills due to the pandemic (upstate and to the suburbs), one would think that the death knell has been sounded for the Big Apple’s building boom age. Not quite, says Michael Kirchmann, one half of the real estate development firm GDSNY, who’s behind a new boutique building called The Emerson, located along the High Line, which recently unveiled eight expansive residences for sale.
Designed and developed by GDSNY from the ground up, The Emerson might seem fairly predictable at first glance. Located on a prominent corner in the Chelsea neighbourhood at 500 West 25th Street, the ten-storey structure is an elegant mix of American limestone and glass. A dynamic cantilever, however, which orients the building toward the High Line, ensures that each of its eight apartments boasts views of the popular walkway, as well as some of the Hudson River. For residences on floors two through eight, a private terrace, loggia or garden is a fixture, while the top-floor duplex penthouse comes equipped with a 60 ft long rooftop terrace. With all units bathed in natural light, and boasting a bounty of custom-quality design touches, be it the herringbone white oak floors or the lighting schemes designed by the firm L’Observatoire, the design-lead project is enticing on a whole other level.
Kirchmann brings a unique insight, especially since he dons both hats of architect and developer at the firm he founded together with his partner Alan Rudikoff. Formerly an architect at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, where he practiced for ten years, Kirchmann understands the value of good design, and not just at the surface level. The Emerson notably boasts a New York Green Property Certification – a land certification program provided by the Mayor’s Office that symbolises the city’s confidence that the property is among the safest places in New York City to live and work.
Here, he discusses how the pandemic has impacted buildings in New York, and why he believes the city will ultimately prevail.

W*: What was it about the New York real estate landscape that prompted you to embark on this architect-developer journey?

Michael Kirchmann: I grew up in South Africa, in a family of designers and developers – so I was immersed and interested in both from a very early age. New York City also loomed large in my imagination as a young boy. I remember being obsessed with movies that had the city as a backdrop. New York just always seemed to be the center of the universe of me.
When I moved to New York City in 1997 after finishing my studies in architecture, I had never even visited, and the city was everything I had dreamed. I remember walking down Canal Street one rainy summer evening, just days after landing here, and feeling like I was on the set of Blade Runner. It was love at first sight.
As an architect at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, I designed and built projects all over the world. I’d always planned to get my MBA and transition to development, but found that the real-world training I got at…

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