Donald Albrecht

Elegance in the Sky:
The Architecture of Rosario Candela

Museum of the City of New York

With some 75 buildings to his credit, Rosario Candela (1890 – 1953) played a major role in shaping the architectural legacy of 20th-century Manhattan—the distinctive “prewar” apartment buildings that define the cityscapes of streets like Park and Fifth Avenues and Sutton Place. Featuring photographs and furnishings, Elegance in the Sky explored Candela’s understated high rises that featured set-back terraces and neo-Georgian and Art Deco ornament to create the look of New York urbanism between the world wars.

Candela, an immigrant from Italy, came of age professionally in an era when the city’s 19th-century mansions and townhouses were being torn down and their residents adapting to apartment living. Working within a community of fellow architects, interior designers, and real estate developers (many of whom were Italian immigrants like himself), Candela met that demand by creating residential buildings that mixed single-story, duplex, and triplex units, all with spacious and graceful plans. Promoted with alluring marketing schemes, these structures established new standards of chic urban living for some of New York’s wealthiest citizens. Even today, almost a century after they were built, Candela’s buildings rank among the most prized in the city, and the phrase “designed by Rosario Candela” remains a real estate magnet.

Mr. Albrecht conceived the idea of the exhibition, developed the show’s themes, selected artifacts, wrote exhibition text, identified and worked with the design team.


Coverage in Architectural Digest, Daily Mail (UK), New York Post, and Wall Street Journal

“a small but insightful exhibition” [that] “cracks the code of some of the most aspirational apartment houses in New York City…” Julie V. Iovine, Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2018

“plenty of scholarship is in evidence, along with a clever presentation and a wealth of information about the building blocks of domestic comfort, which may be Candela’s greatest contribution to architecture.” Pilar Viladas, Introspective magazine, June 3, 2018


Exhibition designer: Peter Pennoyer Architects/Mark Herring, senior designer
Exhibition graphic designer: Tsang/Seymour
Wall frieze artist: James Boyd
Photographer: Brad Farwell

Donald Albrecht