Rosario Candela

        America’s Finest Co-op Architect

Rosario Candela’s penthouse level designs at 770 and 778 Park Avenue, New York City





By Megan McKinney



Who was the finest designer of the great 1920’s co-op buildings on Fifth Avenue, Park Avenue and Sutton Place? Ask any New Yorker with a thorough knowledge of the city’s residential architecture and the immediate response will be, “Rosario Candela.”


The Great Rosario Candela


Mr. Candela, a Sicilian-American with a crew cut, arrived in New York in 1909 at age nineteen to join his father in the construction business—after graduating from Columbia University’s School of Architecture in 1915 along with his first legend: that of a young man so talented a velvet rope surrounded his desk to keep other students from copying his work. Within five years Rosario established himself as a New York architect on his own, soon becoming the brilliant designer of the world’s most glorious cooperative apartment buildings. He was to create some eighty or so in New York City. And one in Chicago.


Among his fine New York creations is 834 Fifth Avenue at 64th Street. Built in 1931, it was described by Forbes Magazine as “Manhattan’s Most Elite Address”. The New York Observer published that 834 Fifth was “the most pedigreed building on the snobbiest street in the country’s most real estate obsessed city.”  And The New York Times architectural historian Christopher Gray wrote that “Rosario Candela has replaceStanford White as the real estate brokers’ name-drop of choice.”

The former Murdochs


Laurance Rockefeller owned the magnificent 834 Fifth Avenue triplex penthouse for nearly fifty years. Next it went to Rupert Murdoch, who lost it in his divorce from Wendi Deng .

Other owners of 834 Fifth Avenue co-ops have included Elizabeth Arden, Charles Schwab, Bolivian tin tycoon Antenor Patiño and former Sotheby’s chairman Alfred Taubman.

Susan Gutfreund

The 834 Fifth Avenue residents best remembered by our Classic Chicago readers are Salomon Brothers CEO John Gutfreund and his wife, Susan, with their high flying 1980’s lifestyle in the seventh and eighth floor duplex.

Was there an issue of Vogue or T&C during those years that didn’t cover the Gutfreunds’ twenty-room residence in 834 Fifth Avenue? Remember photos of the drawing room overlooking the Central Park Zoo?

And the library, its walls lined with seventeenth century leather?

Above is 740 Park Avenue, as in the Michael Gross best-selling book, 740 Park: The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building. This co-op was designed by Mr. Candela in collaboration with his sometime partner, Arthur Loomis Harmon.

The legendary 740 Park was developed in 1929 by James T. Lee, grandfather of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, who lived in the building as a child of three. Jackie would die sixty-two years later in 1040 Fifth Avenue, another Rosario Candela designed cooperative.

The former Bouvier duplex 6/7A was marketed recently by sellers who were collectors of modern art.


Today 740 Park Avenue’s star unit is 15/16B.  Considered the “best”  in the building, it was once owned by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.


The 15/16B living room, gallery, and stairway during the unit’s Rockefeller era.


Currently the former Rockefeller duplex is owned by Stephen Schwarzman and his wife, Christine. Mr. Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group, bought the duplex for approximately $30 million in 2000. In the interim, it was owned by the late financier Saul Steinberg.

The glamorous Schwarzmans

According to published Manhattan real estate gossip the Rockefeller-Steinberg- Schwarzman owned 15/16B, is a “duplex that many still consider New York’s crown jewel apartment” and “whoever inherits the biggest penthouse at 740 inherits the throne of New York society itself.”



Oil heir David Koch paid $17 million for the 18-room duplex penthouse, 17/18D, in 2003 and spent a year renovating it before moving in with his wife, the former Julia Flesher.

Julia and David Koch

Following his death in 2019, Mr. Koch’s widow, Julia, sold their New York City town house for $41 million and put the penthouse on the market.

Although discussing who is “rich” is not our style at Classic Chicago , we would be remiss in failing to mention that Bloomberg has named Mrs. Koch  “the richest woman in the world” and that she is said to be number two in this category among the world’s women by Forbes. Other publicationsnot Classic Chicagohave estimated her fortune to be $59 billion.


credit:redfin .com

We began this feature by stating that although Rosario Candela “was to create some eighty or so” co-op buildings in New York City, there was but one in Chicago. The Chicago portion—involving a glorious “local” penthouseis quite a story.  Return next week to read it.


Author photo: Robert F. Carl