A New Garden Grows Within an Iconic New York City Building

The courtyard’s plants provide 4-season interest: Redpointe Maples, boxwoods, hollies, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, azaleas, and hellebore, which bloom in January
Construction of new Belnord courtyard

Manhattan’s Belnord residential building gets a new look—and verdant courtyard.

Christopher Cameron, Architectural Digest, Aug. 28, 2020

In elegant European capitals such as Copenhagen and Rome, great residential buildings were often anchored around airy private courtyards. However, in space-starved New York—which saw Frederick Law Olmsted’s Central Park as a sort of public courtyard—prime real estate was rarely so generously parceled out.

But there have been notable exceptions: like William Waldorf Astor’s the Apthorp by architects Clinton & Russell on Broadway and West 78th Street, and Vincent Astor’s Astor Court by architect Charles A. Platt a few blocks north—both of which feature lavishly landscaped private courtyards.

Now a third notable Upper West Side building, the Belnord, is emerging from a comprehensive overhaul that has seen its central courtyard born anew. Completed in 1908 by architects Hiss and Weeks, the 1908 Italian Renaissance building includes a 22,000-square-foot landmarked courtyard centered around a Vermont marble fountain. 

“I grew up in Manhattan and went to school on the Upper West Side,” says landscape architect Edmund Hollander, who oversaw the Belnord courtyard’s overhaul. “As a kid I remember going to the Belnord and seeing its courtyard. It was a treat to be given the opportunity to come back and bring new life into what had once been a magical space.”

The Belnord, a full block building with 211 apartments, has seen 95 of its rental units transformed into luxury condos under the auspices of developers HFZ Capital Group, Westbrook Partners, and architect Robert A.M. Stern, an AD100 Hall of Famer. The units are now being sold at prices from $4 million to $11 million. Although the entire renovation demanded particular care, its courtyard, last renovated almost 20 years ago, presented unique challenges during its redo, which was finally completed last month.

“It had fallen on hard times. It’s one of the first landmarked landscapes in New York City because it was so innovative for its time. They housed the stables underneath the courtyard, so this is like a rooftop garden before rooftop gardens were really a thing.”

Edmund Hollander
How HFZ Became the Face of Manhattan’s Condo Woes

How HFZ Became the Face of Manhattan’s Condo Woes

The Belnord was bought in 2015 for $575 million from Extell's Gary Barnett

The 1909 Belnord Apartments – 225 West 86th Street

The 1909 Belnord Apartments – 225 West 86th Street

Belnord rose at a time when many affluent families were giving up private homes