Feb 8, 2017

Todd Snyder, Menswear Designer

The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership is pleased to introduce Todd Snyder, an award-winning menswear designer and owner of the luxury brand store that bears his name at 25 East 26th Street. Described as a "blending of Savile Row craftsmanship with a downtown New York aesthetic", Snyder's style is based on the Huxley, Iowa native's tailor-made passion for fashion. "I followed my dream of being a fashion designer," says Snyder, who earned a BA in Apparel Design at Iowa State University. "I taught myself to sew and it's served me well."

1. Briefly describe your dual role as a menswear designer and proprietor of your Flatiron District commercial property.

My first paying job was at J.Crew in 1993, located in the Flatiron District, and I fell in love with the area. When I set out on my own in 2010, my only choice was Flatiron, it’s the perfect location to go uptown and downtown. Once I started thinking of opening a store, my only choice again was the Flatiron District. I have always loved the energy and the people. It has the best shopping for interiors and we have the best restaurants in my neighborhood (ABC Kitchen, Gramercy Tavern, and Maialino). It just feels like home.

 

2. You've been honored as a CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) Menswear Designer of the Year nominee. How would you best describe your signature label and what makes the style a distinctive global brand?

I have been very blessed to be recognized by the CFDA. My brand has evolved into a classic luxury American brand with a modern sensibility. I like mixing traditional tailoring with vintage military pieces while continuing to insert active modern fabrics.

3. Can you share with us any fashion predictions for 2017 and why you think they will be trending among consumers?

Active is still strong. You will see lots of track suits and active inspired knits mixed with traditional sportswear.

4. Why did you pursue fashion as a profession?

I started studying architecture in college and switched to fashion in my senior year.  I followed my dream of being a fashion designer. I always loved clothing and had an eye for tailoring. I taught myself to sew and it’s served me well.

5. An industry colleague once described you as "a very calm big brother." Would you consider that true? How would you best describe yourself?

I am very calm. I have worked for some pretty amazing people and they have been very good mentors. I guess I get it from them.

6. As a business owner and Flatiron District resident, what do you love most about living and working in the area?

It’s a great place for young talent. A lot of my team lives in Brooklyn or they come in on trains through Grand Central. It’s very convenient for all of them, but it also offers a lot of options for after-work drinks and restaurants. My favorite part is that we have three art supply shops within three blocks.

7. When you grab a bite to eat in the neighborhood, where do you like to go? What's your favorite dish there?

ABC Kitchen. My favorite is the pizza for lunch. My other favorite is Eisenberg’s deli on Fifth Avenue. They have the best breakfast. It’s old school.

8. Aside from visiting your store, what do you consider a "must-see” or “must-do" destination in the community?

Madison Square Eats. It’s the best taste in town. Dozens of local restaurants showcase their best eats. It’s a great way to try everything.

9. What's your favorite building or architectural element in the area and why?

Oh, of course, the Flatiron Building. Still looks incredibly unique and modern despite being built in the early 1900s.

10. Choose three words to describe the Flatiron District.

History. Present. Future.

Dec 14, 2016

Douglas Widick, Managing Director of North Coast and Improviser at The Peoples Improv Theater

The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership is pleased to introduce Douglas Widick, Managing Director and member of hip-hop improv group North Coast, which performs at the award-winning Peoples Improv Theater (The PIT).  A native of Boca Raton, Florida, Widick earned a B.F.A. in Acting from New York University and has studied at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (UCB), and Magnet Theater.


1.  Briefly describe your role as a member of the hip-hop improv group North Coast, which performs at The Peoples Improv Theater (The PIT), heralded as one of the best comedy theaters in New York City.

My role in North Coast is first and foremost an improviser who freestyle raps with the group. We've been together for almost eight years now [established in February 2009], and I am one of the two founding members left, along with the man who conceived the team, James Robilotta. I currently serve as the team's Managing Director, curating the group's vision and growth.

2. Over the years, you have performed at several of the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership’s plaza programming, including our “23 Days of Flatiron Cheer” and Summer Series programs. Tell us what you consider your most memorable PIT performance on the plaza to date and why?

I have such fond memories of these performances! My favorite was doing a version of "Puff, The Magic Dragon" but with all new lyrics for a little boy who told us what he wanted for Christmas. There was something in the air that day, and the audience from the street just kept swelling. We had Jody Shelton [Baby Wants Candy] on the keys, and Mandible [The Beatbox House] on the beat that day.

3. Can you share with us some of your upcoming performances at The PIT this holiday season or in 2017? Which ones do you recommend people check out?

We have two more performances of our critically acclaimed weekly show at The Peoples Improv Theater the next two Saturdays at 9 p.m. Then, we're off until the 2017 season starts. In addition to the weekly show, we'll have our new show ANYBODY: An Improvised Historical Hip-Hopera, running weekly at The PIT until March 9th on Fridays at 9:30 p.m. (Tickets are available at here.)

4. What do you like most about musical improv comedy and why?

What I like the most about musical improv comedy is that it's an opportunity to take silliness very seriously. You can play a rapping couch, and if you take that duty with 100% gravitas, you're gonna have a whole hell of a lot of fun! My whole life I've been making up stupid songs with my friends, so this is just an extension of that, with paying audience members.

5. In addition to being a performance venue, The PIT also offers comedy writing classes and educational workshops. Do you have any advice for those who are starting out in improvising or want to try musical improv comedy?

Yeah! I would recommend that they see as many shows as humanly possible while taking the classes. Musicians listen to music, football coaches study old games, and improvisers should watch improv shows, especially while in the classes. For those who want to try musical improv, I recommend you go to the musical mixer at the Magnet Theater, which is three Tuesdays out of the month. It couldn't be a more supportive starting out point! Once you're hooked, take a 101 class at The PIT, Magnet Theater, or UCB.

6. When you grab a bite to eat in the neighborhood, where do you like to go? What's your favorite dish there and why?

My cousin used to work at Hillstone on 27th Street and Park Avenue South, and I got hooked on their fish sandwich. They serve it with matchstick potatoes and it's just delightful. They give you way too
much, so I usually take half home!

7. Aside from attending a show or grabbing a drink at The PIT, what do you consider a "must-see” or “must-do" destination in the community and why?

I guess this is a pretty basic answer, but if you've never sat at Shake Shack on a fall day and eaten one of their thick concretes while relaxing and watching New Yorkers pass you in the park, then you must. High quality food with high quality views makes for an unbeatable experience with a wonderful view of the Flatiron Building.

8. What's your favorite building or architectural element in the area and why?

I have a weird obsession with the Credit Suisse and New York Life buildings. Something about the way the brick is laid feels very epic and ancient to me. I feel like they have an energy that says, 'Come in...if you dare to brush shoulders with the gods!' The truth is, it's just people doing computations at desks, but I like to create all sorts of strange falsehoods for what goes on in those buildings.

9. Choose three words to describe the Flatiron District.

Not.Times.Square!

Dec 7, 2016

Leonidas Trampoukis & Eleni Petaloti, LOT

The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership is pleased to introduce Eleni Petaloti and Leonidas Trampoukis of LOT and the designers of the 2016 holiday installation “Flatiron Sky-Line.” LOT was first founded by Petaloti and Trampoukis in Greece and then later in New York, where they have been working since 2012. "Flatiron Sky-Line" is installed on the North Flatiron Public Plaza until Monday, January 2, 2017.

 

1.  Briefly tell us about the history of LOT:

We both graduated from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation Master's program in Architecture and have had extensive professional experience in the Arts and Architecture in New York before starting the practice.

In 2014, the office was selected for the Wallpaper* Architects Directory, the iconic magazine’s list of the best architectural talent from around the globe. In 2015, LOT formed Objects of Common Interest - a design project with the focus in creating objects and installations in search of inspirational moments in materiality, process, and concept.

 

2.  What are your thoughts about your proposal being selected as the centerpiece for the Partnership's annual "23 Days of Flatiron Cheer" holiday programming:

We are honored that this installation will be an urban destination for New Yorkers for the holiday season. It’s a site with a very intense vibe and which we felt immediately through the crowd's response.


3. Briefly outline the creative concepts involved with the installation and what you hope will be the public's takeaway after experiencing Flatiron Sky-Line:

Flatiron Sky-Line is an invitation for public interaction that celebrates New York diversity.

We wanted to create a spatial installation that creates an intimate space while at the same time celebrated the surrounding context through a different lens. We feel that visitors appreciate the interactive experience as this is a project for the public space, as much as it is for the people.

4. What’s your favorite destination or “must-see” in Flatiron:

All the urban, open to the public "corners, triangles and plazas" that have been created in so many areas of the Flatiron District. It is amazing how a simple gesture of a seemingly defined area creates such an intimate feel. The area is complemented by cool hotels and stores such as the Ace Hotel and Maison Kitsune that we often visit.

5.  What's your favorite architectural element or building in the Flatiron area:

The Flatiron Building in conjunction with the geometry of the Flatiron Plaza; it is an unique urban moment and perspective.


6.  What's your favorite place to grab a bite to eat in the Flatiron District:
The Breslin at the Ace Hotel and Shake Shack.


7.  How would you best describe the Flatiron District in three words:
Engaging - Festive - Active

Image via LOT.

Oct 18, 2016

David Birdsell, Marxe Dean and Professor at Baruch College's Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs

The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership is pleased to introduce David Birdsell, Marxe Dean and Professor at Baruch College's Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs. "The students are enormously talented and their stories are compelling," says Birdsell, a 30-year member of Baruch's faculty. "I’ve never worked with more deserving, inspiring people in my life." A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Birdsell, who is also a go-to media expert on political communication, holds a B.A. in History and an M.A. in Speech Communication from the University of Virginia, in addition to a Ph.D. in Public Communication from the University of Maryland.

1. Briefly describe your roles as Marxe Dean and Professor.

As Dean, I’m responsible for hiring and retaining a world-class faculty, making sure that we have the right recruitment strategies in place to attract the most talented, diverse students, shepherding the development of our degree programs, and nurturing relationships with our many partners locally and around the globe. Our new name and the resources that come with it provide many new opportunities in these areas and more. Baruch has always been about propelling opportunity, and we now do more to achieve that mission than ever before. I’m focused on my role as Dean, but I’m a Professor, too! And though I don’t get to spend as much time as I’d like to in the classroom, I very much enjoy working with our Executive MPA students on Saturdays.

2. You were instrumental in the School's creation and opening in 1994. It now ranks as one of the top public higher education institutions in the nation and New York City's only public graduate school dedicated to public affairs. What do you consider your greatest professional and personal achievement with these accomplishments? 

We’ve had a civic administration program at Baruch since the campus was founded in 1919, but it was always tucked into other programs. What changed in 1994 was opening as an independent school, which has allowed us to focus attention and resources on preparing people for leadership in public service, not only in government per se, but in nonprofits, hospitals, and educational institutions as well. I’m most proud of our graduates, who do great things that make this city and others better every day. We’ve also more than quintupled the size of the School since 1994 and built an outstanding faculty, a terrific group of scholars and practitioners who are keenly interested in making sure that their work contributes to building better lives through the thoughtful development, implementation and evaluation of sound public policy. The program has a role in international leadership, too, with faculty occupying board seats on all of the academic organizations central to the work we do. As of October 21st, I became President of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration, which has a twofold mission to ensure excellence in education and training for public service and to promote the ideal of public service. And we have done all of this while continuing to lead the nation in the diversity of our student body. That’s something we never want to give up.

3. This year also marks your 30th anniversary as a Baruch faculty member. What do you love about being part of this college community?

Baruch changes lives, period. The students are enormously talented and their stories are compelling; I’ve never worked with more deserving, inspiring people in my life. I’ve had many roles at Baruch, but the one constant is a student body that makes me proud every single day.

4. It was just announced that your School will receive a $30 million donation, one of the largest contributions ever, to aid in expanding faculty and scholarship opportunities. As the School's Dean and a Professor, what are your thoughts on the School receiving such a generous gift?

Austin W. Marxe’s extraordinary gift–we have been renamed in his honor–is truly transformational. We will be able to create new endowed professorships, more than double our levels of scholarship support, provide seed money for important research projects, bring outstanding speakers to the campus for our students and community residents, and support our students studying off-campus, both abroad and in Washington, D.C. The gift also makes us more visible to partners, employers, and other universities around the world. It’s a time for building and creating opportunities for all of our constituencies.

5. With today’s rapid 24/7 news cycle, what’s your favorite medium for consuming news?

I’m glued to my iPad first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening. In terms of content, I go straight to certain sites, but also rely heavily on aggregators such as City & State’s "First Read," RealClearPolitics, or The Washington Post’s terrific "Daily 202."

6. When you are looking for an off-campus lunch, where do you like to eat in the neighborhood? What's your favorite dish there?

I usually don’t have time to get lunch off-campus; I get something to take back to the desk, often from Lamarca. But when I have the chance, you’ll find me at Novita parked in front of a plate of its outstanding Inslata di Calamari.

7. What do you recommend to students, faculty, and visitors to the community as a "must-see” or “must-do" destination?

I always take them on Baruch College and Gramercy Park tours, and send them off to the Flatiron Building and Madison Square Park on their own. People love it!

8. What do you like most about this area?

The area’s architecture is so varied and rich, but without the gargantuan scale of Midtown. The plazas and outdoor markets have created a vibrant sense of place and new, flexible destinations.

9. What's your favorite building or architectural element in the area?

I’m a huge Cass Gilbert fan so the New York Life Building is at the top of my list. High up as well are the MetLife complex and, of course, the Flatiron. But I also love the history of the area, and its role from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries as home to what became some of the city’s most important social welfare institutions. Most of the buildings that housed those organizations–the old Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies building, the United Charities building, the original Russell Sage Foundation building among others–have been turned to other purposes, but the exteriors still grace the neighborhood.

10. Choose three words to describe the Flatiron District.

Historical. Dynamic. Human-scaled. 

Image credit Billy Zhu.

Sep 21, 2016

Veronica Mainetti, President, Sorgente Group of America

The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership is pleased to introduce Veronica Mainetti, President of Sorgente Group of America, the Flatiron Building's majority stake owner since 2008. "I love its history, its unique triangular shape, and the way in which it has inspired the design of other buildings around the world," says Mainetti about the iconic property built in 1902 that's celebrating its 50th anniversary as a New York City landmark. Mainetti's family-operated business owns a $2 billion U.S. real estate portfolio. A native of Rome, Italy, Mainetti is also a photography and world travel enthusiast with interests in learning about global warming and energy efficient ways to design projects that are truly sustainable. 

1. Briefly describe your role as President of Sorgente Group of America.

As the President of Sorgente Group of America, I oversee the conservation and redevelopment of historic buildings throughout the United States.  I have overseen the restoration of two iconic cast-iron buildings on Greene Street, and transformed them into condominiums, and most recently, have launched 60 White - luxury and sustainable lofts in Tribeca. Over my tenure, I have also been responsible for expanding Sorgente Group’s holdings and have done so with the acquisition of the Flatiron Building here in New York, the Fine Arts Building in Los Angeles in mid-2012, and the Clock Tower in Santa Monica in 2013.

2. Your company acquired a majority stake in the Flatiron Building in 2008. What do you love most about this iconic property? 

The Flatiron Building has one of the most distinctive looks of any New York City building, and it is recognized throughout the world.  I love its history, its unique triangular shape, and the way in which it has inspired the design of other buildings around the world. Serving as an intersection of two of the most iconic roadways, it anchors the neighborhood which has lovingly adopted its name.

3. The Flatiron Building marked 50 years as a New York City landmark on September 20th.  What are your thoughts about this historic milestone and possible future plans for the building?

Sorgente Group of America will continue to honor the Flatiron Building for years to come, preserving its legacy and beauty while also keeping it updated to stand the test of time. Furthermore, given that preserving history is at the heart of our work and passion, we will continue to celebrate the Flatiron Building’s history as we are right now, with the 50th anniversary of its landmark status.

4. You decided to pursue a career in your family's global real estate development business. What makes the profession so appealing to you?

Real estate has appealed to me from a young age as I was lucky enough to start my career at Sorgente Group, which is our family-owned business. Being immersed into the company since childhood, I have been able to nurture and further develop my passion for historic restoration, preservation, and sustainability. With these passions at the forefront of my work, I have forged my own path within the industry. I put my whole heart into all of my work and fall in love with each building I work on.

5. As someone who is gluten-free, where do you like to eat in the neighborhood and your favorite dish there?

I have quite a bit of food allergies, not just gluten, and because of this I tend to cook a lot at home. I do, however, dine in this amazing neighborhood of ours on the roof of our New York City Prow.

6. What do you like most about this area?

The mixture between the incredible historic architecture and the constant reinvigoration of the energy that surrounds this area is enchanting to me.

7. What do you consider a "must-see” or “must-do" destination in the community and why? Any kid-friendly destinations that your son, Giulio, enjoys in the Flatiron neighborhood?

Madison Square Park. I love to come here as it is my son’s favorite park and gives me the space to enjoy the community while admiring the beautiful art and snap a picture of the Flatiron!

8. We’ve read about your interest in photography, and while the Flatiron Building is one of New York’s most photographed buildings, are there other neighborhood gems that you find to be interesting subjects to shoot?

This is my favorite thing to shoot within the area!

9. Choose three words to describe the Flatiron District.

 Vigor. Architecture. History.

Image credit Veronica Mainetti

Aug 9, 2016

John Doherty, Chef and Owner, Black Barn

In honor of NYC Restaurant Week, the Flatiron Partnership is pleased to introduce John Doherty, Chef and Owner of Black Barn. Doherty's farmhouse-style restaurant, located at 19 East 26th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues, features American artisanal fare.

"At an early age, I found that I could make people happy through my food," says Doherty, who grew up in Commack and Huntington, New York. By the time he was 27, the Culinary Institute of America grad was appointed as the youngest ever Executive Chef at the Waldorf-Astoria, where the award-winning Doherty worked for three decades.

1. As an experienced Executive Chef and first-time restaurant owner at Black Barn, what's been your greatest business achievement since opening in 2015?

Like many businesses, the success of a restaurant is a combination of many parts. With less than a year under our belt, I can’t say we have one single greatest achievement, but I can say that I am extremely pleased with the short-term success we’ve had and I attribute that to several things: our highly skilled and passionate management team, the desire of our service team to just make people happy, and how every cook and chef is focused on developing great flavor with consistency. 

2. What are some dishes you recommend to diners during this summer's NYC Restaurant Week and why?

The Chilled Melon Soup is so refreshing and delicious, the Grilled Corn and Kale Salad is back from last season, the Swordfish Tacos have been extremely popular so we put those on the menu, and Chef Matteo's Fresh Made Tagliolini Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil, and Baked Fresh Ricotta Cheese. We will make changes to the menu depending on market ingredients and guests comments.

3. Black Barn recently introduced some new things, including a breakfast menu and a summer happy hour. Tell us more!

What I was most drawn to about purchasing the restaurant is its size and diversity. Coming from the Waldorf-Astoria with three restaurants, room service, and multiple banquet events, I learned to love constant change and variety. There is such diversity in the neighborhood with so many residents, offices, retail stores, and tourists, the possibilities of serving people's needs is endless. People can enjoy a different experience each time they come. Breakfast, brunch, cocktails, and a small plate in the Tavern or outside overlooking the park or a broader menu in the dining room under the rafters or a six-course tasting menu at the Chef's Table, not to mention we have five rooms for private events.

4. At 27, you became the youngest person ever to be named an executive chef at the Waldorf-Astoria. You also hold the honor of having cooked for more heads-of-state than any other chef in the country. How has this remarkable skill set contributed to your present-day success?

I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to get a job as a cook at just 19 years old. So with a good culinary education from the Culinary Institute of America, a strong work ethic, and an ability to work well with others, I learned a lot in a short period of time. I suppose putting me in charge when the time was right made sense. The leadership skills, business acumen, and ability to be creative were skills I developed along the way and I apply them daily at Black Barn. At the Waldorf, we fed one million people a year from every walk of life and everywhere in the world. So, with three restaurants, room service, and multiple daily events, you learn a lot about what people like and dislike. You also have to be flexible and creative to meet the needs of so many.

5. After more than three decades in the culinary arts, what makes the profession remain appealing to you and why?

At an early age, I found that I could make people happy through my food. It was then that I set my sights on becoming a chef. Later, I learned that there is so much more bringing that delight to others: great food, unusually good wine, memorable service, ambiance, and value. It is that same desire that turns me on today. However, creating flavors and textures in a dish is truly my first passion and doing that together with a team of chefs makes it even more invigorating.

6.  You are relatively new to the neighborhood - not only as a business owner but also as a resident. What do you love most about living and working here and why?

Although I have worked in Manhattan for the last 39 years, this is the first time I have lived here. My wife, Jennifer, and I LOVE it because life is so much easier. Everything you could ever need is within a block or two. The architecture and Madison Square Park are beautiful, the streets and sidewalks are not overly crowded and they’re clean. There is a good mix of national brand stores for when you know exactly what you want and small boutique shops for when you want something unique. We’ve come to know many people and everyone is so helpful.

7. What do you consider a "must-see” or “must-do" destination in the community and why?

Besides coming to Black Barn, I must mention the vast number of good quality restaurants in the neighborhood. I think it is extraordinary that one can get a very good meal in so many restaurants in one close area. That is what makes the Flatiron a great dining destination. The more great restaurants, the better it is for everyone. I do brag about the park and the hotels. I think Eataly is something worth seeing as well.

8. What's your favorite building or architectural element in the area and why? 

I love the Clock Tower. I think it is an amazing building with such beauty. 

9. Choose three words to describe the Flatiron District.

Progressive. Dynamic. Diverse.

Image credit Melissa Horn.