The Tower of Terror on West 11th Street

When I turned the corner onto West 11th Street and saw the Palazzo Chupi for the first time…

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…I have to admit, the first thing that came to mind was the Tower of Terror in Disney World.

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I know, I know, a more educated writer would be focusing on the Chupi’s neo-Mediterranean flourishes, not referencing a theme park ride…

But…

Tower of Terror:

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Palazzo Chupi:

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Tower of Terror:

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Palazzo Chupi:

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The Tower of- er, Palazzo Chupi is one of the most controversial and talked-about buildings to go up in New York in recent memory. Designed by artist/director Julian Schnabel and named after his pet-name for his wife (Chupa, after Chupa Chups lolly pops), the building rises high above its West Village environs, a pink behemoth reaching for the sky.

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Finished in 2008 (despite the protests of angry neighbors), the palazzo’s base is an old stable.

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The building only has five apartments, one of which is Schnabel’s, and two of which are sold. Want one of the remaining two? For a cool $27 Million, your new home will include “cast bronze door handles, stone fireplaces, cast stone railings, beamed 8-foot high ceilings, terra cotta tile floors, colonnades, terraces & balconies, concierge service, an indoor swimming pool with steam room, and private on-site parking” (Curbed).

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With vacancies as recently as June, Schnabel was forced to sell an $8 Million Picasso right off his living room wall to help repay debts from construction.

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Honestly, the complicated story of the Palazzo Chupi has been so well-documented elsewhere that it makes no sense to try and recap it too deeply here. I can’t believe it took me this long to finally see it in person (though in my defense, I don’t spend much time around West 11th St and Washington). Check out this NY Times article for a great synopsis, and day-to-day coverage on Curbed.

My personal opinion? Call me a plebeian, but I love it. I know, I know, it’s an unholy shrine to Schnabel’s ego, has no architectural merit, etc., etc., etc. But you know what? It sure as shit beats the hundreds of glass and steel/brick box apartment buildings going up in every vacant lot across the city like a bad virus. Yes, architectural audacity always raises hackles, but often, I much prefer it to the same old. Definitely make the trek to West 11th Street to decide for yourself. 

-SCOUT

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17 comments

  1. This is one of the coolest blogs / sites I’ve discovered…ever! I’ve seen your stuff on flickr, but the commentary here really makes it a destination.

    There are some NYC collections on my flickr site, if you’d like to check them out: http://www.flickr.com/photos/MFitzPhoto.

    Thanks for this site. I’m looking forward to what you put up next!

  2. I have to say I kinda love the Palazzo Chupi, too, even though I’ve never even seen the Tower of Terror. So thank you for giving me that additional perspective.

    I first saw it myself in May, when I did the Great Saunter. I found this site with some fantastic photos of the interior…

    http://www.luxist.com/2008/02/24/palazzo-chupi-estate-of-the-day/

    Boy HOWDY.

  3. Ha! Has Schnabel ever acknowledged his source of inspiration?There’s too much resemblance for it to be a coincidence!

  4. Hilarious! Thanks, I look at it everyday from my window. I also do not object to the palazzo. There are other numerous examples of polychoromed stucco buildings in the West Village some of which are just a very few blocks away. I think it was the Rudolf Valentino fad in the 20’s

  5. I love it too! I was prepared for this to be another post bashing it, but I’m glad you agree. I had never noticed the similarities to the Tower of Terror which I think is hilarious. But I think it’s a breath of fresh air and at least someone is being creative! All the rest of the new buildings are ugly.

  6. I think is VERY cool – but you’re exactly right…also VERY Tower Of Terror!

  7. Also so reminds me on the towering mounuments of ZION national park of UTAH.

  8. I like it. What is the problem? The building has character.

  9. Has anyone else considered that “Chupa” comes from the Spanish word for “suck”?

  10. Took me time to study every of the feedback, but i really loved the article. It proved to be extremely useful to me and i\’m confident to all of the commenters here! it’s all the time better when you can not solely be informed, but additionally entertained! i’m confident you had enjoyable penning this article.

  11. Sure, the apartments look cool, but I’d have a question for Schnabel – what in the blue hell is a cast STONE railing? I’d sure like to see these stone-casting facilities.

  12. @Beth, Schnabel ever acknowledged his source of inspiration?
    All artists steal. Famous artists seal more.

  13. I’ve never even seen the Tower of Terror. So thank you for giving me that additional perspective, Great..

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