One of the oldest family-run commercial and residential real estate organizations in New York, the Durst Organization is a staple of the city. The company is behind some of NYC’s most famous buildings – for example, One World Trade.
The Durst Organization’s Portfolio
The Durst Organization was founded in 1927 by Jewish immigrant Joseph Durst, a man whose humble beginnings led to quite extravagant ends. First a tailor, then a partner at a dress manufacturer in New York City, Durst began his property acquisition endeavors in 1915 using the profits from his manufacturing business. Most notable of his early purchases is the original Congregation Emanu-El, which was demolished in 1927 to make room for commercial developments.
Over the course of nearly 100 years, Durst and his family built what is considered one of the most prominent real estate companies in New York City. Now run by Durst’s grandchildren, the organization holds claim to some of the city’s most impressive and in-demand properties. The family-run business prides itself on creating and managing “sustainable residential and commercial properties in which people live, work, and thrive.”
Beyond its buildings, the Durst Organization co-founded The Model Organic Farm Foundation, the non-profit organization responsible for operating McEnroe Organic Farm – one of the largest organic farms in New York State. Seymour Durst is also credited with creating the National Debt Clock, “conceived to call attention to the soaring debt and each family’s share of it.” Today, the clock is located at Anita’s Way, in the through block between two Durst properties – One Bryant Park and 151 W. 42nd Street.
The Durst Organization has properties in Manhattan, Queens, Philadelphia, and Northern Dutchess County. Though each building is unique, all boast sustainable designs, extreme attention to detail, and unique amenities for residents. CitySignal has ranked the Coolest 7 Durst Properties in New York City, based on where we’d most like to work and/or live.
One World Trade
Built on the northwest corner of the original World Trade Center site, One World Trade (formerly known as the Freedom Tower), is undoubtedly one of not only the Durst Organization’s coolest buildings, but also one of the country’s most significant structures. It is the tallest building in both the United States and the Western Hemisphere, and the seventh-tallest structure in the world. Built in 2012, it took the title of tallest building in New York City from the Empire State Building, which held it from 1931 – 1972, and then again from 2001 – 2012. At 1,776 feet tall, its height is a deliberate nod to the year the Declaration of Independence was signed.
The building’s anchor tenant is Condé Nast. The publishing organization relocated their headquarters to One World Trade in 2014, moving from the Durst Orginzation’s One Five One building, where Condé Nast had been a tenant since 1999. One World Trade is also the home of Reddit and Bon Appetit.
One of the most environmentally sustainable skyscrapers in the world, One World Trade has received a LEED Gold Certification and uses sustainable architecture features to reduce energy costs and minimize the building’s environmental impact.
The building also boasts one of the best views in Manhattan, with the One World Observatory located on floors 100 – 102. At 1,268 feet, the three-story observation deck offers the highest vantage point in New York City. It is accessible through a side entrance or the Westfield shopping center, located on the lower floors of the building.
One World Trade is a building of major importance for the country… and it’s also a really cool place to work, shop, and get a birds-eye-view of New York City.
One Bryant Park
Located at 1111 Avenue of the Americas, One Bryant Park – otherwise known as the Bank of America Tower – is another one of the Durst Organization’s most impressive properties. At 1,200 feet, it is the eighth-tallest building in New York City and the tenth-tallest building in the United States. Completed in 2009, the $1 billion project is a New York City landmark and an unmissable marker of Midtown.
One of the building’s most exciting features is the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, a historic Broadway theatre with an impressive neo-Georgian facade. The theatre is currently home to the new Broadway musical & Juliet, which opened in November 2022.
Broadway isn’t the only sight worth seeing at One Bryant Park. The building is notable for its glass “curtain wall” facade. Designed by architects Cook + Fox, the facade allows for lowered energy costs and usage and meets LEED Platinum sustainability standards. A unique and eye-catching design, the curtain wall allows the building to stand out without dwarfing its next-door neighbor, Bryant Park.
While one writer in the Village Voice described the glass facade as “alien,” another described the building as a “psychological and economic lift to a city that was still reeling from the destruction of the World Trade Center.” Either way, it serves as a haven for tourists, employees, and commuters alike.
VIA 57 West
It’s hard to miss VIA 57 West, which resembles a distorted pyramid and boasts a steeply sloped facade angled towards the northeast. Located at 625 W 57th, the award-winning residential apartment complex is an unmissable marvel in the Durst collection of properties.
The first New York project of Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, the building’s sloped facade is said to resemble a sailboat crossing the Hudson River. According to The New York Times, the building was named VIA because the southbound West Side Highway “slopes down as drivers enter the city, right at the spot where the building is situated.” It’s seen as an entrance into Manhattan “via 57th.” Officially named VIA, the building has garnered quite a few alternative monikers: Pyramid, West 57th, W57, West57, and Tetrahedron.
Beyond the design, the building is an incredible place to call home. Extra amenities include a swimming pool, a library, basketball court, movie theater, and a poker room. Located at 11th and 57th, the building may seem a bit far from transit hubs, but that issue is solved by the exclusive complimentary resident shuttle. There is also on-site parking for those with cars.
VIA 57 West is an architectural marvel and an apartment building worth drooling over.
One Five One
The Durst Organization’s One Five One building may be better known as 4 Times Square, the Nasdaq MarketSite, the H&M Building, or maybe simply as “the Condé Nast building.” Opened in 1999, the 52-story skyscraper is a staple of Times Square and one of the earliest examples of green design for a skyscraper.
Though the corporation has since moved to One World Trade, publisher Condé Nast was one of the building’s flagship tenants when it opened in 1999. Notable about the Condé Nast tenancy is the ‘Condé Nast cafeteria,’ which was designed by architect Frank Gehry. Gehry’s first project as an architect in New York City, the cafeteria was as fabulous as the employees eating in it. It cost an estimated $30 – $35 million to build. After Condé left One Five One in 2014, it sat empty for five years but was reopened as a tenant-only food hall in 2018.
Some other significant early tenants of the One Five One building were law firm Skadden Arps and Disney’s ESPN Zone restaurant. Skadden Arps left the building for Manhattan West in 2020, and the ESPN Zone closed as a result of the 2008 financial crisis.
One tenant showing no signs of relocating: Nasdaq’s MarketSite, which has laid claim to the $37 million LED sign outside of One Five One since 1999, also leases space inside the building. MarketSite expanded their lease to 180,000 square feet in May 2019.
Besides MarketSite, One Five One’s most visible tenant is currently retailer H&M, who signed a commercial lease with the building in 2012… provided they could put panels with the ‘H&M’ logo atop the skyscraper. The panels certainly make the One Five One building hard to miss!
One of the Durst Organization’s most exciting properties is the Sven apartment complex, located at 29-59 Northern Boulevard in Long Island City, Queens. Designed by Handel Architects, the 71-story mixed-use tower is a development worth nothing.
With a gleaming, curved facade, the building is an eye-catching addition to Long Island City. While the mirrored tower represents the future, the building’s foundation is an homage to the past. The Sven building is located at the historic site of the former Bank of Manhattan Building. Though no longer operating as a bank, The Queens Clock Tower structure has been seamlessly incorporated into the base of the building. Like all Durst properties, Sven is sustainably built and run, focusing on environmentally responsible use of the elements water, earth, energy, and air.
The building offers ample amenities, including a fitness center, an outdoor pool, poker lounge, library, and screening room. There are usually a handful of available apartments ranging from studio to three bedrooms and boast features, including (but not limited to) up-to-date appliances and floor-to-ceiling windows.
A quick subway from Manhattan, Sven offers residents a different view of the New York CIty skyline… from across the East River, 71 stories high.
Historic Front Street
What’s interesting about Historic Front Street is that it isn’t just one property – it’s an entire city block. According to the website, “Historic Front Street consists of 11 restored 18th-century buildings and three modern buildings on Front Street between Beekman Street and Peck Slip.” In line with Durst Organization values, it is the largest historic preservation project in New York to incorporate sustainability into all aspects of its buildings.
For those looking to live at Historic Front Street, the Finacial District development has 95 rarely available rental apartments, ranging from studios to penthouses. There are also commercial offerings, with 13 ground-floor retail spaces for rent. Though interiors are ready for redesign, all storefronts must comply with historic landmark requirements to “maintain the cohesive neighborhood look and feel.” The facades are old, but the shops are new: some residents include Jack’s Coffee, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, and Paris Cafe.
To visit Manhattan’s Seaport neighborhood is to travel back in time to the 1800s, as so much of the area has been preserved. It’s a great place to work, shop, and live!
Though not a commercial office building, the Durst Organization’s EŌS Nomad apartment complex makes for a great place to work from home. Located at 100 W 31st Street, the 47-story glass tower offers stunning studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments.
The units are a renter’s dream, boasting everything from basic features like a washer/dryer to the more exciting bonus of floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Where EOS takes its crown, however, is in its amenities. The building offers an indoor pool, a golf simulator, a roof deck, fitness center, half-court basketball court, and a 24-hour concierge in the lobby. Not to mention the impressive location, right in the heart of the city.
Sustainably and seamlessly designed, EŌS Nomad is not to be slept on… unless you’re renting an apartment in the building! You can find availabilities here.
The Durst Difference
Though these are the seven ‘coolest’ properties, they’re not all of the residences and commercial buildings in the Durst portfolio. All of Durst Organization’s buildings are curated with the care and conscience that can only come from a family-run company.
Emily Bice is a New York based writer born in Michigan, but with family in Canada - so on paper she’s the nicest person you’ll ever meet. Emily graduated from The University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. She has worked as an olive oil farmer, press correspondent at Cannes, and in television, but her favorite job is writer. Playwriting credits include before the flood (The Chain Theatre, NYC), Purgatory (developmental workshop, Ann Arbor, MI), See You In A Few (one act, the thing theatre company, Zoom). Check out more of her work at emilyabice.com!