Designed by prolific apartment designer Philip Birnbaum and built by noted Queens developer Morton Pickman, this 14-story apartment complex still towers over the Bayside neighborhood around it. The design is fairly standard for Birnbaum, efficient yet state of the art, providing amenities such as an Olympic swimming pool, rooftop garden, and private terraces. Some “of-the-moment” features are noted in the awards writeup, such as music played throughout the public spaces and an oriental style lobby. These elements have not survived to the present day, although the severe marble lobby has glints of its past.
While looking from the exterior like every other red brick mid-century apartment building, the award program write-up tells another story. The description claims that Roosevelt Terrace was the first building in the country to employ terraces on both facades of each apartment, offering cross-ventilation for every unit. Primary access to units is also provided by the terraces eliminating the need for some interior hallways. No surprise that the architect for this innovation was Philip Birnbaum, the prolific apartment designer, largely forgotten today but responsible for hundreds of major scale residential buildings across the city.
The building is one in a series of apartment houses by Birnbaum named for past presidents. Here the white painted ironwork gives this nine-story building a graceful, patrician air. Similar to many other buildings in this part of Forest Hills, the Woodrow Wilson is clad in red Colonial brick and many apartments have large cantilevered balconies. There is also a large two-story parking garage, an amenity that became de rigueur in 1950s apartment living.
A true standout among the award winners, this design is as striking as when it was originally unveiled. The corner bank gleams with an exterior of stainless steel and granite. Floor to ceiling windows illuminate the three-story height space. Patrons enter through a curved corner entrance up a short flight of stairs. The interior the original mosaic floors and teakwood walls although the mural featuring Forest Hills has been lost. The bank is surprisingly unlike most of architect Philip Birnbaum’s other designs; he was primarily known for his large apartment building towers in brick.
Kennedy House was seen as the height of fashion when it was built and today still retains cache for its high end amenities and stringent board. It was designed by the prolific Philip Birnbaum and was the tallest building in the borough when completed, at 34 stories. It is set back at an angle to Queens Boulevard, taking up less than 25% of the entire site with a wide entrance drive that originally included reflecting pools. The lobby is double-height and includes an enormous chandelier, original to the building. There is a rooftop swimming pool and apartments have large smoked-glass balconies.