New York

WTC Memorial Chat


Peter Walker, the landscape architect working with Michael Arad on the World Trade Center Memorial, will chat live with visitors to website next Tuesday, November 8th at 12pm EST.

Tipped off by the evergreen Pruned. We're with them: where's Arad?

Ground Zero Museum Workshop


While travelling toward a meeting last week, in a speeding cab, I glanced over to the building that houses Friends of The High Line. A new sign was up, for the Ground Zero Museum Workshop. It is a space devoted to a single photographer, Gary Marlon Suson, with unique access to Ground Zero: he was the Official Photographer at Ground Zero for the Uniformed Firefighters Association (FDNY). He became friendly with many of the people working down there, and his photographs reflect that.

With the master planning process at WTC 2.0 gone, perhaps it is time for us to create our own, makeshift memorials again, throughout the city.

Tropolism Voting: Foster Inspiration Winner


Tropolism's graphic editor was out for a bit, and so we're just now posting this. By a whopping 1 vote margin, my diligent readers have voted for the Louis Kahn tower, and not the obscure (but totally rockin!) MoMA sculpture from 1962. Please note that about one third of voters chose to send alternate sources of inspiration (a testament to the wealth of visual similarities in the artistic world) instead of choosing from our simplifications. Also note that because of our stringent rules of integrity around here, I was not allowed to cast a vote in favor of either scheme. But you already know what I think. Thanks for sharing!

Here's a secret: we're preparing another little competition. It will be a little more involved than just voting, however. But we cannot say more without violating our non-disclosure agreement.

Pretty Lights at 55 Water Street, Part 2


Jim Conti let us behind the Beacon (I so did not type that) a bit.

Click for many more pictures and the inside story...

Tropolism Voting: What Was Foster's Inspiration?


We love a good meme. We love a good rhyme. We also love a really good joke, of which there are so desperately few in my profession.

However, never let it be said that we don't know our Louis Kahn (om) back projects. (Actually: we don't care). I went to Washington University for architecture, you don't think that the first thing I learned was that Kahn competed (and lost) for a project there? A project that is not unlike the proto-metabolist aspirations you see above, before he saw Light As A Material (om).

And, the Kahn monograph is unfortunately so large it's difficult not to open it occasionally, if only to take the dust off the cover. Sometimes while dusting, it flops to the page showing his diagonally gridded structure. One of the difficulties of my profession (both as an architect and a writer) is having Kahn enthusiasts bring him up like no one else has ever heard of him. Lovely how this meme leads us into a witch hunt: Commies everywhere!

In my view, the tower wasn't visually as similar to Foster's building as the triangular grid in the sculpture I mentioned, so i don't see it as a precedent. Also, my experience with Foster leads me to believe that his inspiration would come from a sculpture, not a klunky Kahn. But that's my opinion, not a fact. And so, we're jumping full-force into the first Tropolism Voting Project. Readers, please vote: which of the two potential sources of inspirations do you believe more closely resembles Foster's Hearst Building (right)? The Kahn project (far left for the non-architect demographic) or the Francisco Sobrino sculpture (middle) I mentioned in my earlier post. You have until Friday 9am to write us with your opinion!. We will duly post when the public has finished deliberating.

Pretty Lights at 55 Water Street, Part 1


Tropolism isn't all about hard-hitting journalism. We like pretty lights as much as the next blogger. We also like talking to our friends. This is why when Jim Conti, the lighting designer for 55 Water Street, told us that there were different programs to the LED lights at The Beacon, we asked him to tell us more.

Part one after the jump...

Canal Park: Open For People Caught In Traffic At The Holland Tunnel


We've had a long love affair with this park-to-be. Today was the dedication. It's New Park Week in Manhattan. New parks are like new land, and we love them.

55 Water Street: Open For Administrative Assistant Lunches!


The new park at 55 Water Street was dedicated last night, and declared open.

Read on, and with pics!

Progress on "Progress"

Update Bonus Add-On Sidebar to the 55 Water Street Beacon "of Progress":

A person very close to the project says the owner, Retirement Systems of Alabama, chose to give The Beacon the appendix "of Progress". I only hope that surgery isn't required to remove the appendix before it ruptures.

55 Is Alive


Waay back in 2002, I directed the design of a competition for 55 Water Street at Rogers Marvel Architects. I'm sure I've said that before. The real heros are the people at The Muncipal Arts Society, who educated the owners of 55 Water Street in good public space, and the building owners, who have pledged to sponsor at least 12 public events, year round, to keep the park alive. We spent a lot of time studying Bryant Park. Tropolism means addicted to density.

So it is not without a little pride that I see this pop up on the ever-seeing, ever-knowing Curbed. Of course, I've known and calendared the dedication ceremony for a few weeks now, but I had no idea such a press junket had emerged. Ken Smith never sleeps.

Here is your opportunity to see a crappy brick plaza, hidden from view, be transformed into a lovely park. It is also an opportunity to compare all our renderings with what actually got built. Budget cutting will do that to you. See you at 55 Water Street at 5pm.

Two end notes. First, we wanted to add to my list of ice rinks with this project. Second, I have no idea how "The Beacon" became "The Beacon of Progress". Progress toward what?

Update bonus add-on: Another (gorgeous) picture of "The Beacon..." after the jump.

Party High, Sweet Chariot


Friday, a friend invited me to go to Creative Time's latest event, an opening for a show inspired by the High Line, after we supped, and I said yes. It was only an 80% yes, these things often turn out to be hideous: a hundred people occupancy but the event-throwers invite 10,000 to see it, creating a fight at the door. Still, the promise to see the one Matta-Clark film I haven't seen yet was exciting enough to get me walking in the rain.

Read about the show by clicking for more...

NYC Ice List


(above: skating at Rock Center, 1941

I'm an architect. And I make lists. Welcome to my world.

I'll let you in on a secret: I've not visited this list for years. But today's news, that Bryant Park is going to install an ice rink, is welcome news. First, because Bryant Park is a case study on how to create more density in a city, and have it pay for the improvements in a public park. Bravo! Second, because I studied this idea for a former employer while working on our own new-park proposal. We got the job in part because of our Ice Idea.

List of Ice Rinks In New York City


-Wollman Rink in Central Park

-Lasker Rink in Central Park

-Rockefeller Center

-Bryant Park

-Chelsea Piers Sky Rink

-Madison Square Garden


-Abe Stark at Coney Island

-Kate Wollman in Prospect Park


-World's Fair Rink

Staten Island

-Staten Island War Memorial Ice Skating Rink

2 Columbus Circle Underway


Are we the only ones who are wondering why everyone suddenly loves this building? Where were the ├ętudes before someone suggested they make the building, like, useable. I understand the argument about the "turning point in Modernism", but I am left with an unshakeable feeling that this is the same kind of reactionary preservationist talk that's resisting tearing down a mundane 1920's parking garage on West Charles Street.

The earlier versions of this project left us uninspired. However, the rendering above gives us hope that the building will be a better object at the intersection of Broadway, West 59th Street, and Central Park West than the lollipop building is. And Mr. Cloepfil appears to be taking more design risks as the project moves forward, a startling contrast to WTC, which is becoming more safe and annoyingly boring as the project continues.

Curbed is all over this story.

Switch Building: Not Not Real

nA_PERS_north_below.jpg Tropolism means be clear about what you know you don't know. In this case, I disclosed that I didn't know something about several buildings on my incomplete list, including nArchitects' Switch Building.

After the jump, construction photos from a photo-correspondant, the diligent and thorough Mr Salmon, who was very clear that Switcheroo was not not-real...

Freedom, Schmeedom


"It's funny that this all arises over freedom," said Mr. Burke, who lost his brother in the attack. "Isn't it a bit of a seismic anomaly that the exercise of freedom has a segment of the very families who paid the cost of freedom up in arms?"

One Kenmare Square


Our friends at Curbed have adequately documented the history of the weirdness of creating an address like "One Kenmare Square" on a street that is clearly labeled "Lafayette". They also picked up a few of the typical reactions from around the Lower Kenmare Square 'hood. Behold the genius of off-the-cuff remarks from people who complain for a living: The project is too modern! Why doesn't it fit in more?! The neighborhood has red/brown brick, but they used black. Like, totally yuk!

(What is tiresome about on-the-street reactions is that they are just reactive, and as such generally sound like someone talking to the camera on the latest reality TV show, especially when they are about buildings, for which there are only two stock reactions from almost everyone on earth. Why is it so modern? Why doesn't it fit in more? Luckily, you have people like us who occasionally make up something new. New, not necessarily interesting. You be the judge!)

Sculpture for Intimacy


I don't like the Sculpture for Living. But please, don't take my word for it. Our friend and reader Renee Turman, Interior Designer, comments on the latest advertisement for Sculpture for Living, showing a rendering of unit 16A, after the jump:

Ground Zero: Back To Zero


I've been saying this all along, whenever someone asks me for my professional opinion about the Ground Zero Memorial Master Plan, or whatever it's called: that the Master Plan is of almost no significance. The buildings will show up whenever they do, with whatever architect gets in good with whatever decisionmaker shows up to do the job. It's happened before (United Nations, Rock Center, Lincoln Center), why not now?

Mr. Ourousoff's entry yesterday is one of his best so far. I particularly enjoy being reminded how BBB's plan looked, and how it's just like what the site is shaping up to actually be.

High Line To Get Luxury Housing, Waaay Before Highline Park Is Complete


The ever-consice Curbed did a wonderful pr├ęcis about all the development in the Meatline district of Manhattan. Between this and Calatrava's vertical High Line, how is a managing director of Goldman Sachs supposed to make a choice?