New York

Highline Vacuum To Be Filled By Rush Of Upper East Side Cultural Institutions


Tropolism is making connections.

Today's relationships in news. First, the Dia Art Foundation--caretaker of rockin' artworks like the Earth Room and Broken Kilometer, in addition to an empty building on 22nd Street, and a huge factory-become-museum in Beacon, New York (it's north of the Bronx, which is north of Manhattan)--is not going to anchor the southern end of the Highline (as shown in the rendering above). One half second later, the New York Times reports that the Whitney is looking at expanding in this location. Interesting, you say, but so what?

Second news: Norman Foster's creative expansion of a building on the Upper East Side is argued over (and mostly opposed by) at a Landmark Preservation Hearing. The New York Sun captures some of the stupidest and nonsensical opposition preservation quotes ever, proving yet again that preservationists have no logical argument, only outrage, to support their positions. Speaking in support of his design, Lord Norman cited the Guggenheim and Whitney Museums, which are totally not masonry or rectangular, and which are totally in the Upper East Side.

Which leads us back to the first article. The case for the Whitney is an example of some pretty good speculation, in that the incentives for the institution to expand elsewhere are enormous. High cost of construction on the UES, lack of community support for anything you'd want to build next to a brutal Marcel Breuer masterpiece, and an aging and not hip population for neighbors would make any cutting-edge institution look for new digs. What institution will be next to consider an expansion downtown?

Preservation: winning the battle for the neigborhood, at the expense of a culturally interesting neighborhood. West Chelsea residents of the year 2046, mulling over expansion plans for the High Line, take heed.

Public Designing Public: Gansvoort Plaza


Streetsblog has an in-depth post about a proposal to create better streets and public spaces in the area of Gansvoort Street, Manhattan. The proposal began its life in 2005 from the Project for Public Spaces, and has grown into a full-blown presentation, including artfully rendered observations about traffic flow. What is truly wonderful is that the process is being guided by the community, who are in turn getting elected officials into the action. We are anxiously awaiting what the proposed public spaces will actually look like, and hope they use the model of the High Line for their approach. Community input is great for planning public spaces, awful at designing them.

Via Curbed.

Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village: SOLD


Tishman Speyer Properties and BlackRock investment bank submitted a winning bid for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village: $5.4 Billion. Some quotes from the New York Times article:

Michael McKee, treasurer of the Tenants Political Action Committee, called the sale a “dark day for affordable housing.” Translation: the sky is falling. First, Starbucks spread all over town, and now this. New York was so great when everyone was poor and apartments everywhere were cheap.

His son, Rob Speyer, a senior managing director at Tishman Speyer, also tried to reassure tenants, emphasizing, “There will be no sudden or dramatic shifts in the community’s makeup, character or charm.” Translation: we can't kick rent-controlled tenants out fast enough to cause a sudden or dramatic shift in the community's makeup, so relax. You'll either move or die of old age.

Tribeca: Contextual Architecture Hell


As regular readers of Tropolism know, we have a low regard for contextualistical architecture regulations, public design review boards, and unnecessarily stringent historic preservation guidelines. We're champions of good architecture; sometimes it "fits in", sometimes it doesn't. Mostly it doesn't. And that's what makes New York so wonderful. Can anyone imagine the High Line design if it had to be "contextual"? Ouch.

So it with a happy heart that we read a letter by Carole Ashle to the Tribeca Trib expressing similar views. On the subject of the North Moore Hotel, contextual-styled par excellance:

"Most of these creations stand out as clumsy interlopers because their concept is a fakery, and has nothing to do with architecture as an art. Nothing to do with function, either. The North Moore hotel evokes anything but Tribeca, parts of an Edward Luytens’ country house perhaps, minus the quality. A contemporary building on Hudson Street near Franklin fits better with the surrounding buildings. The “contextual” has been discredited in other countries such as Britain where it’s now rightly seen as a disaster for architecture.

We can vouch for the building she refers to on Hudson Street: it's all glass, yet somehow manages to turn the entire block of staid brick warehouses into a setting for its elegant, delicately patterened facade. Sometimes it fits in by doing not-fitting-in at the appropriate scale.

Via Curbed. Photo by Will Femia.

On Smithson's Hotel Palenque


Greg Allen posts a gorgeous piece about Robert Smithson's lecture/slideshow/fictional narrative Hotel Palenque. He includes a link to a filmed recording of the 1972 event at the University of Utah, and impressions of what it is to see this piece through the lens of a filmmaker.

Pretty Pictures Monday: Paul Rudolph House


When we were writing for the Village Voice, we did a little piece about a house Paul Rudolph developed on East 58th Street. Today, we stumbled on a lovely slideshow showing the renovated house Paul Rudolph did for himself on Beekman Place (courtesy New York Magazine), renovated by Della Valle + Bernheimer.

New New Museum Going Up


The New Museum's new building, designed by SANAA, is going up. See for yourself: The New Museum has a pretty-much-live webcam on the construction.

Via Curbed.

Rem Koolhaas: Back In The USA


For those of you, like us, who thought that the spinoff series T-REX was to replace The OMA's time slot, then you were wrong! Oops, wait, this is architecture, not television. For those of you who thought that REX was going to take all the USA projects, and OMA would settle for the rest of planet Earth, think again. Today, Mr. Koolhaas appears in two New York Times announcements for projects close to NYC.

First is Millstein Hall 3.0 (pictured), the project that Steven Holl (v1.0) and Barkow Leibinger Architects (v2.0) have both lost. Koolhaas returns back to his twisted-Mies beginnings for his design by creating what appears to be an even more surreal Farnsworth House. Which we think is a brilliant move. The Farnsworth House is an important work that plays a large part in architectural histories we teach students...Koolhaas' proposal is like a building architects would invent while in R.E.M. sleep.

Second he was hired for a residential mixed-used complex of 1.3m square feet (larger than the "Freedom" Tower, yo) in Jersey City. City officials are giving him the wink-nudge with this golden nugget: "How much of the building Mr. Koolhaas will preserve is unclear. The settlement drawn up by the city requires that the facade be preserved, but officials here said that they would be open to any changes Mr. Koolhaas might propose." In short, if you don't want to preserve the facade, it's totally fine, just let us know, 'kay? Whatever the preservation arguments, we're glad to see OMA doing a project close to NYC, particularly if it will improve the New Jersey skyline.

Panoramic Map of Manhattan


You may have noticed that we at Tropolism love maps. And lists. And maps.

Curbedhart points us to a unique addition to our maps of Manhattan, a circa 1940 panoramic, posted by eightface.

Architecture Returns To The Hamptons


It's been a while since original architectural ideas settled in the Hamptons. The days of Peter Blake and his gorgeous (and simple, and small, and brilliant, and uncompromisingly modern) Pin Wheel House (1954) seemed long gone, until we stumbled upon this press release. The Parrish Art Museum, in Water Mill, New York, out on Long Island's east end, has announced a design by the tirelessly inventive Herzog & deMeuron.

The building is organized around a few central permanent galleries modelled after artists' studios in the Hamptons. From there radiate more boxes are strewn around a field. The museum is organized around north-facing skylights. Also brilliant: the approach. Visitors park in a sunken parking lot, and emerge into a meadow planted with native plants, meandering along paths and gardens until they arrive at the musuem. Most striking is the understated view from Montauk Highway, pictured above.

Pictures of an illustrative model of the project are here.

High Waters In New York (And Elsewhere)


There are recent articles in several places about global warming (like last week's survey in The Economist) and all of them vaguely refer to the fact that a rise is ocean levels would be devastating to urban areas near water, like New York or London. Future Feeder points us to a great Google Maps mashup that describes, exactly, what your neck of the woods would look like with a little rise in ocean levels. Great for disaster fanatics and long-term real estate investors.

Governor's Island: Back To Planning


Polis has the news on the development of Governor's Island: all the development plans have been trashed. They were awful anyway, but since no one ever goes to Governor's Island anyway, it didn't seem important to mention it (except tangentially). I bring it up now because Lisa has some particularly good insight into the process:

"’s actually a good thing that the bids were scrapped because they were all terrible and too expensive. The problem, much like the even more disastrous WTC site, is that a master plan was never completed before the bids were solicited, allowing developers, like the WTC site, to throw designs and ideas at the wall like spaghetti to see what sticks. Fortunately, in the case of Gov’s Island, nothing stuck, and now a master plan is actually going to be completed."

WTC Tower Review


Nicolai Ouroussoff writes a balanced critique of the three building designs announced for the World Trade Center site in today's New York Times. He makes an important point about the Maki/Rogers corridor on Cortlandt Street as being an important approach to the Memorial (if it is going to be lined with a vertical mall). And he slams Foster's building too:

"A vertical notch cut into each of its facades creates deep, brooding shadows; the top is sliced at a sharp diagonal that tilts toward the memorial pools below. One assumes that this is intended to imbue the structure with a quasi-mystical significance, but it’s a cheap gesture."

Daily Dose Double, Part 1: 40 Bond Street Mockup


Daily Dose has posted a couple of wonderful posts lately. First of all, the completely-unreported-by-New-York-blogs news that the Herzog and DeMeuron designed 40 Bond Street, here in Manhattan, had put up some kind of construction mockup of the glass trim. The speculation from the photographs is well-documented by DD. We add that the original press on this was for a "cast glass" exterior, not a curved float glass element; the mockup looks like the prismatic effect of cast glass is lost by having curved glass. Perhaps this was just a test of an option under consideration.

WTC Small Towers Unveiled


Today, Larry Silverstein, the developer of the World Trade Center, announced the designs for the smaller towers at Ground Zero. The designs are by Lord Foster, Richard Rogers, and Fumihiko Maki.

We'll tell you a secret: even though we always knew the "Freedom" Tower was going to be a snorefest, we thought that Foster, Rogers, and Maki (particularly Maki) would come in through the side door and kick up the architectural refinement on The Site. We were wrong. Click on Continue Reading for our comparisons and comments.

Alessi Disaster


From our Los Angeles correspondant, John Southern:

Last week when I was in NYC I stopped by to see the new Alessi Shop in SoHo only to find it was still under construction. I stepped inside, pretending to be "the guy from the architects office", only to find myself in the middle of a small crisis that was unfolding. A guy who was probably the PM was getting schooled by another gent, whom I took to be the superintendent (or a building inspector). The gist of the argument, from what I could gather, was that the super was going to shut the job down for work violations. Scuttlebutt aside, for those of you who haven't been there yet, the opening is scheduled for the end of August...I'd say it's going to be a little longer. The fat guy blocking my shot is the superintendent, who oddly enough, closely resembles FOG from the rear. The PM was behind me in the street sobbing into his cell phone. It was all tragically beautiful.

Tropolism does not condone deception to get access to a jobsite.