From Pope Hat to 3D Puzzle: The New Design for a Chelsea Condo Building

Written By Bryan Gamble | December 18, 2013
2019%2f09%2f13%2f12%2f35%2f28%2f1a068850 cf2a 45b5 a1b3 38e7a6081231%2ffile

After several years of bemusing, angering and enticing people in Chelsea, the “Pope Hat Building” design has been scrapped to the disappointment of the fans it had accumulated. Architect Carlos Zapata’s infamous design for a condominium building was deemed “the Pope Hat Building” for its curvilinear structure that shaped into a pointed oval, making it vaguely resemble a mitre.  The design was scheduled for the vacant lot at 39-41 West 23rd Street but construction never got underway and now, it never will. In 2010 Anbau Enterprises bought the site for $18.5 million and had announced that it would preserve Zapata’s designs for the building. This has changed, however, and a new design has been commissioned. However, in a move that seemingly caters to fans of the Pope Hat Building, Anbau Enterprises has retained Zapata’s firm, COOKFOX architects to come up with a new building.

After new project architect Rick Cook and his team unveiled their new design it is apparent that COOKFOX has considerably eased up on the modernist influence. In a much more humble design that tries to fit into the historic district it is set in rather than stand out, the new building is being likened to a set of 3D puzzle pieces or “a building wearing another building on its head” rather than a holy hat. The building is described as such because it rises from its base, sets back, rotates and continues up again with a large cantilevered section along the rest of the building. The facade will include terracotta, limestone, granite, percolated glass, zinc and green planted terraces.

The Commissioners are largely approving of the new design, which is strange considering how they had previously endorsed the Pope Hat and planned to move forward with it. While this is good news for the site’s future, the designs are still in their infancy and are subject to harsh criticism and revision as the project continues. The Puzzle Building may yet go the way of the Pope Hat Building if delays arise once again.

Blog Archive


This information is not verified for authenticity or accuracy and is not guaranteed and may not reflect all real estate activity in the market. © 2021 REBNY Listing Service, Inc. All rights reserved. RLS IDX Data display by Elegran LLC. IDX information is provided exclusively for consumers’ personal, non- commercial use and that it may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing.

Elegran LLC may or may not be the exclusive listing agent of the properties being displayed on All data displayed on is presented for informational purposes only and should be independently confirmed by all customers. All Information is compiled from both public and private sources including, but not limited to the RLS, MLS and ACRIS; each of which is assumed to be reliable. All information displayed is subject to errors and omissions regarding apartment specifications and final sale prices, and further, any unit listed may have had its listing withdrawn without notice subsequent to such information being compiled. No representation is made as to the accuracy of any description (ie: listing, close sale data, and/or building description) of any building or individual unit. All measurements and square footage are approximate and all information herein should be confirmed by customer and/or their attorney. Elegran LLC, its members, affiliates, and contributors adhere to New Your City, New York State, and United States Fair Housing Laws.