High Line Projections on Manhattan’s West Side

photo 1

(The Standard Hotel, New York. February, 2014)

Traveling through the lower portion of the High Line, in the Meatpacking District, one is struck by these animal-like constructs. Products of the present & former decade, they proclaim their status on this promenade, projecting a sense of confidence to the world. This used to be a rough and tumble part of town. As documented in countless memoirs of New York’s bygone era, prostitutes and drag queens frequented the streets, hawking their wares. Now, it appears we have a new gang, masquerading along the West Side’s catwalk.

These intriguing buildings symbolize a shift in the attitude of the city. A “look at me” exclamation, vying for attention in an otherwise crowded place…not necessarily a bad thing. Everyone loves to look at beautiful things. These new confections profess their exuberance, with a rationale and seriousness that is purely New York.

One only needs to turn their head to the unabashedly confident Standard hotel (above). A big creature with legs spanning the promenade. It’s prow looking steadily out across the City skyline. This particular type of form is not necessarily novel in shape, the novelty is found in the execution of “how” shape is manipulated, bent and twisted to accommodate the idiosyncrasies of Urban Planning. It’s material (concrete) referential to the grit of the neighborhoods past.

photo 2

(“Rotating Cube” : Under Construction, New York. February, 2014)

Yet another friend on the block is the Rotating Cube by Morris Adjmi; adjacent, and deferential to the Standard. A little brother sitting in its shadow, it’s design proportioned to meet the lower Meatpacking buildings. The construct sits on a base that blends with the old brick fronts, with an upper portion that pops and rotates at its corners, simultaneously kissing and pulling away from the marching parade. The beauty in this particular form lies in its simplicity of shape, exquisitelly tailored to fit.

photo 3

(Whitney Museum : Under Construction, New York. February, 2014)

Perhaps the most confounding of this triad is the brand new Whitney Museum by Renzo Piano. It’s form hearkens back to the large ships, forging their way through the Hudson. It is attractive in the way that it anchors the termination of the Southernmost portion of the High Line, like a rock, or an adorned ships hull, portals and all. It begs to ask, what is beauty in the Urban Form? What types of urban mass connote confidence and musculature?

These are projections of Grace and Style, deep in the developing West Side.


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