The Central Park Spire


(Rendering of The Central Park Spire, New York, NY. Under Construction. 2014)

The Urban Critic: As far as the new Super-Tall Towers go, popping up in and around The City, the Central Park Spire looks to be on the side of The Spectacular. Anchoring the corner of Southwest Central Park and adjacent to Columbus Circle and the recently constructed One 57 luxury tower, this one tops them all at a whopping 1775 Feet at the tip of its Spire. Designed by the Chicago architects Gordon Gill and Adrian Smith, the tower brings a bit of International flair and understated muscularity to an area which respects a bit of restraint. It’s image, at least in renderings, brings to mind a more updated Sears Tower, our favorite Mid-Century neighbor in The Heartland.

Cantilever Tower_3

(Earlier rendering of The Central Park Spire next to The Art Students League Building)

Refined and updated for the New York scene, the tower sports a cantilever which looms over the Art Students League of New York structure, a late 1800’s building with impressive facade facing 57th Street. The League sold it’s air rights in a transaction called an Air Rights Transfer which effectively grants a portion of the sky above the League to the tower (about 20 feet) while rendering the rest undevelopable. From some perspectives, this is a violation of the sacred space above The League. From other perspectives, this deal secures the future of the building from the wrecking ball.

Turning back to The Spire; This addition will add yet another exclamation point to the Southern end of Central Park. In a race to climb higher, in a City which seems a bit insatiable in this matter, The Spire looks to In-Spire future generations as a building which achieves its height with a respect toward proportion. Let’s hope that the actual result will live up to the Towers’ potential both as a retail anchor of Central Park South and as a future New York Icon glimmering on the Skyline.

Map Locator for The Central Park Spire: Click Here

Between Metropolis and The Land


(Container Village, New Jersey. 2014. Image by Greg Gordon Canaras)

On the outskirts of New York, On the Jersey Side, reside stacks of colorful boxes. Shipping containers, at first glance appear as buildings along the din roll of the highway. Spontaneous Architecture brought about by the passing of commerce. These structures for transport invite ones curiosity about the use of “The Modular” unit in the fabric of The City.

This subject, highlighted in our prior post “Modular New York” explored the concept and its potential as a building type in our Urban Landscape. As an architecture which is flexible and temporary, the idea of the container which serves as an environment for human habitation has been readily explored; most notably by the UK based company Urban Space Management and the construction of Container City’s 1 & 2 on the outskirts of London.


Container City II, Trinity Buoy Wharf, London. Photo by Urban Space Management

Between Metropolis and The Land lie spaces of semi-permanence; Landscapes rarely viewed as places of Spontaneous Architecture. And as the dense core of Our City eventually pushes outward, into these spaces of the in-between Docklands, perhaps the use of this modular unit may become accepted as a common sight. This fleeting landscape viewed from the car, colorful like a village, may someday transform into a place that is Occupied.

Links of Relatable Note:

Urban Space Management, The Creators of Container City 1 & 2

Between Metropolis and The Ocean, a prior musing, from Gordon’s Urban Morphology

Scalar Absence


(World Trade Center Memorial, New York, NY. 2014. Image by Greg Gordon Canaras)

A Tribute to Urban Form as a Memorial of Labor, and to the Unions of Construction :

The World Trade Center Memorial reflects the re-composition of human emotion in the form of two massive voids; an absence inscribed in The City. A collective consciousness has been solidified through the Public’s awareness of this ‘Zero Signifier’ of Urbanity “interrupted”, where spirits are layered like a palimpsest across the terrain of the urban landscape. The “Memory Objects” of The Towers, now marked in emptiness, once contained the contents of humanity positioned in time and space. These contents, over time, were dissipated within the cultural geography of The City and in society. These contents were solidified once again, in the Form of absence, as repositories of memory, and through the memorialization of the Human Condition, continually oscillating between memory past and memory reconstructed.

Blue Portal on Pier 42

Blue 4

 (Blue Portal, Pier 42, New York, NY. Image by Greg Gordon Canaras)

Post Pic of the Day: As part of the “Paths to Pier 42″ project, which brings temporary Architecture, Art and Design to parkland awaiting more permanent installation, Blue Portal is one of many smaller scale interventions in this otherwise derelict part of the East River Park. Blue Portal invites curiosity amongst parkgoers and Urban explorers alike. It is a playful jolt of color which invites those wandering by to pass through and into the garden within.


For information on Blue Portal and the Paths to Pier 42 project, click Here.

For a Google map locator of Pier 42 in the East River Park, click Here.

World Trade Rising

(Time Lapse of One World Trade, New York, NY. 2014. Video by Benjamin Rosamond)

A stunning time lapse video by photographer Benjamin Rosamond captures the construction evolution of New York’s greatest addition of late in full Glory. Click and watch the tower rise amongst the City Skyline; A visual treat of the Everchanging City.

The 5 Pointz Follies


(5 Pointz Follies, 22-24 Jackson Ave. Brooklyn. Renderings by HTO Architect)

The Urban Critic: There is bad design, and then there is offensive design. In the case of the 5 Pointz Follies, this proposal crosses both lines. In the context of building Big in a Big City, a higher level of expectation must be set for our Next Generation of Urban Spaces.

The location of this 2 dimensional cartoon extrusion proposed pair of buildings was once the renowned nexus of graffiti artists, whom came from around the world to practice their art. The old, colorful industrial warehouse that displayed the works of experimental artists were left in a raw state of decay; A 3 dimensional canvas of Urban expression. More recently, this canvas was decommissioned and turned over to the Forces of Change currently sweeping through Our City. These forces, now coined as Hyper-Gentrification, have had mixed results, though oftentimes more negative, across the vastness which comprises our Cityscape. Issues such as class displacement, societal segregation and political favoritism rear their ugly head; In Form, they appear as “cartoon set” facades, lacking real depth or interest. There is little to no intrigue in this new format of the Big Box Manhattan Development.

As mentioned in Gordon’s prior post The Beasts of The Westside, lamenting the loss of an entire Westside block in Chelsea, this type of development will continue to blast New York’s core with empty “Streets of Nothingness”, similar to America’s suburban strip retail corridors of Same-Ness; Buildings that can be anywhere, lacking in identity or connection to place. The 5 Pointz Follies, a rendering without context, is a development lost in this blank Void.

5Pointz Graffiti

(The Graffiti Mecca that was once 5 Pointz, Brooklyn, New York. Demolished 2014)

Gordon’s Urban Morphology continues to take the position that the largest developments in Our City require the greatest attention to detail. These houses of High-Rise Cards deserve a public process of opinion which contributes to better communities, as the Hyper-Gentrification process continues unabated. Such processes have been successful in cities like Boston, where the built environment is viewed as an artifact. An artifact that is expected to improve over time and with age; as people have been given the chance to participate in the melding of their Urban Space.

Our Metropolis has become complacent when it comes to developers and their steamrolling of our City’s history. This unabated process continuing must be disrupted in a manner which allows for a space, perhaps a counter-forum, where Expression as Activism in the interest of maintaining our Sacred places can gain traction against Big Developers, and their Plastic Towers rising throughout Any-City, USA.

Referenced Offenders:

David Wolkoff Developer

YIMBY (Pro-New York Crushing Development, Regardless of what it is)

22-24 Jackson Avenue

Between Metropolis and The Ocean


(Parking Lot, Jacob Riis Park, New York, NY. July 2014. Photo by Greg Gordon Canaras)

Somewhere  between the confines of The City and The Great Ocean lies the in-between, silent and pictorial. Vast open spaces punctuated by structures placed by the intervention of man. On the fringe of The Great Metropolis; the parking lot near Jacob Riis Park, and its connecting causeway is the subject of our pictorial shot. This spit of land and adjacent Urban Beach is, and has been, one of the quieter but wonderful respites within our Urban milieu.