Italian art: Rosario Candela

Aug 18, 2021 319

If we mention the name Rosario Candela, you probably wouldn't think of anyone in particular. Or, at least, only a few would recognize one of the great signatures of American architecture. He is, in fact, one of the main creators of the myth of the city of New York, whose history began in Sicily. Once again, therefore, we would like to talk about famous Sicilians, who have gone down in history thanks to their creativity, their talent and their ideas.

The architect Candela designed buildings that embody New York elegance: to him we owe about 75 projects, but his fame is mainly linked to some large apartment buildings of the 1920s. These are located on the Upper East Side, between Fifth and Park Avenues and Sutton Place. They are still residences of Manhattan's historic elite. The premises are all there for a story full of charm: follow us to know the whole story.

Rosario Candela was born in Montelepre near Palermo in 1890. He emigrated to the States in 1906, settling permanently in New York in 1909, after having returned to Italy to finish his studies. He obtained admission to the School of Architecture at Columbia University, where he took his degree in 1915. He worked first as a draftsman for the architect Gaetano Ajello, also of Sicilian origin. After another brief stint working for Frederick Sterner, in 1920 he established his own firm.

His first major project was for an apartment house on the corner of West 92nd Street and Broadway. Shortly thereafter came his first commission on the East Side at 1105 Park Avenue. Over the next five years, the Sicilian architect designed several residential buildings on the Upper West Side, primarily along West End Avenue and Riverside Drive. Right around this time, the area was undergoing a profound transformation, with the emergence of large apartment buildings.

Candela was very active in the second half of the 1920s, when he had the opportunity to design numerous buildings on the Upper East Side, primarily on Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue, as well as at Sutton Place and elsewhere. In 1927 and 1928, Candela designed 19 condominium buildings. He had even more commissions for 1929, but the real estate boom began to slow even before the stock market crash in October. Of 27 projects designed, only 12 buildings were completed. For the exteriors of his buildings, Candela favored simple and functional forms, compared to the more exuberant styles in vogue at the time. He was considered a master of design when it came to interiors, with sumptuous entrance foyers and monumental staircases. Rosario Candela's contribution to New York's elegance is undeniable. In an article in the prestigious international magazine Architectural Digest, his accomplishments are referred to as the "most precious apartments in the world."

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