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words Beatrice Galilee

SoHo is supposed to be dominated by wrought iron warehouses and historic 19th-century buildings, not shiny glass towers designed by French starchitects. But after some delicate conversations with New York's conservation committee, Jean Nouvel has built just that in 40 Mercer, a new residential tower for luxury hotelier Andre Balazs.

The $83m, 15-storey building with fritted red and blue panels nods to warehouse vernacular with steel mullions, gaping floor-to-ceiling windows and set-back stacked form. It started out as a hotel development, to join Balasz's collection of The Mercer, Chateau Marmont,

The Standard and others. But Balasz managed to persuade the city to reverse a planning law that forbade new housing developments, and the block was redesigned to contain 40 apartments.

Typically Nouvel, 40 Mercer Residences is all about glass and steel and open air. Each apartment can slide open its glazed walls, and residents get in-house parking, personal shopping, lap pools and pet care. The set-back massing echoes the former occupants of the site - a low-rise department store and a taller office block.

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