"Competing Visions" Lead to Demise of Costas Kondylis and Partners

Costas Kondylis
Photo courtesy Costas Kondylis Design
Costas Kondylis, designer of Donald Trump towers, has broken up his longtime firm and formed a new one.

Architect Costas Kondylis, AIA, who is perhaps best known for the New York high-rises designed for Donald Trump, has broken up his longtime firm and formed a new one.

In December, Kondylis announced the launch of Costas Kondylis Design, a New York-based practice emphasizing projects that aspire to certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program (LEED). His former firm, Costas Kondylis and Partners, founded in 1989, was dissolved in August.

Indeed, 90 percent of the new firm’s projects will be “green,” versus 50 percent before, he says. But in an unusual arrangement that acknowledges market stresses, Kondylis’s new practice has partnered with investment firm Lynx Finances Group for a financial cushion, he explains. It could also generate leads; Lynx, based in Luxembourg, controls a stake in CP-Solar, a major solar-panel manufacturer.

Kondylis, who designed the 72-story Trump World Tower near the United Nations, New York’s tallest completed residential building, says he is working on master plans in Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and Algeria, among other projects, but he wouldn’t give specifics. He adds that his new firm, with 20 employees, allows greater creative control than his old one, which at its peak had 175 employees. “I was the conductor of the symphony orchestra,” he says. “Now I can play the piano myself.”

While Kondylis and his former partners agree their split was amicable, Stephen Hill, AIA, who subsequently founded Goldstein, Hill & West Architects, attributes it to competing visions. Kondylis wanted more international work, while Hill sought to focus on New York towers, like the pair they’re now designing on Manhattan’s West Side for Extell Development.

Kostas' overseas commissions were too costly to produce, Hill explains, "and when we were no longer willing to support that effort, we had a pretty big issue on our hands."