Month: December 2014

2014 Urban Morphology Round-Up

Thanks to the readers of our blog. Gordon’s Urban Morphology has gained a steady readership month over month and we look forward to bringing more stories about New York’s building culture to our pages in 2015. It looks to be a busy year!

2014 has shaped up to be a very interesting one in New York. As the development cycle heats up across the City, we expect more stories to be told through the changes in our Urban Form, as well as the many personal and cultural stories that go along with this change across The City landscape.

And here is a Round-Up of our most popular posts from 2014, based on user clicks:

Corlears Hook Aerial

Our most popular post of 2014 which garnered the most clicks: Readers took great interest, especially International ones, in Corlears Hook, Forgotten Corner of The Lower East Side.

Murder Alley

Another popular post which drew International readers took us deep into the heart of Murder Alley, Chinatown.


Two Tenements, Standing dove deeper into the meaning of The Tenement in society, before the wrecking ball comes for the Upcoming Essex Crossing Development in New York’s Lower East Side.

LES People

And continuing in The Lower East Side, our blog took personal interest in a New York Times article about life in Coop Villge, and wondered about the meaning of living in a NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) in Our Lower, Lower East Side.

Domino Demolition

Across the East River, we watched the demolition of the Domino Sugar Factory to clear the way for a new housing development in Domino Sugar, Down. This trend toward larger and more significant development on the Brooklyn waterfront continues the gentrification wave sweeping across The City.


And at The World Trade Center site, many of us watched in awe as Santiago Calatrava’s new transit hub rose from the ground. It’s alien form has made it an instant landmark. Our take on the building’s appearance was written about in The Serpent of The Trade.

Beast 1

We were sensing that the gentrification wave has gone too far and has left our new buildings lacking personality in one of our favorite posts, Beasts of The West Side.


And back at The Trade Center We felt that The New York Times review of One World Trade was a bit one dimensional, considering it is a National Symbol. Our impression of The Times article struck a few chords with readers in A Flawed Review of A National Symbol.

 So, there you have our year’s top posts. Thanks again for your readership and we’ll see you in 2015. Happy New Year from Gordon’s Urban Morphology!


The Rise of The Beekman

Beekman Atrium

(Photo of The Beekman Atrium, to be restored as New York’s next Great Room)

A curiosity of ornamentation mixed with a bit of Old New York style grandeur is being rehabbed and on the rise in Lower Manhattan.  The old Beekman Office Building, designed in the Queen Anne Style, with soaring atrium is set to become a new hotel with an adjoining decorative tower whose appearance will bring back an element of High Style to the New York skyline. This particular project stands out amongst development across the city because it mixes the rehabilitation of one of Manhattan’s Great soaring rooms with a new structure that adopts a complimentary attitude, embracing ornamentation, instead of eschewing it. This is a refreshing take on the new mixed with the old, and if executed well, will become a miniature landmark in Lower Manhattan.

Beekman Image

(Photograph of the original Beekman Office Building, Around 1883)


(Rendering of the restored Beekman structure with Tower Addition)

The rendering above of the new Beekman tower attempts to celebrate the older style of Manhattan skyscraper, where moments of interest punctuate the vertical thrust of the tower. The new addition is also crowned by two decorative tops, which mimick the pointed caps of the original Beekman office building; A nod to its sister building’s past.

The tower is currently on the rise, and the old atrium will be polished off when the Beekman Hotel and Residences open within the next year; A new destination in the rapidly changing landscape of Lower Manhattan.

Links of Relatable Note Can be Found Here:

Heritage of the Beekman

Link to the Beekman Residences and Hotel Webpage

Steampunk’d in The City


(Steampunk Inhabitants of a Fictionalized New York)

A debate is circulating about a marketing ploy for a downtown condo building, 15 Renwick Street, now dubbed the Steampunk building. Geared toward the hipster creative class, the ad campaign has created a stir surrounding class warfare in an increasingly class stratified City. To many, this campaign has no bearing to the average New Yorker, as it reaches into the category of lifestyle-as-fetish or high performance art. To live here is, in this particular place, is an exceptionally curated experience, which begs the question; What ever happened to just sitting in the living room and watching TV?

Steampunk Fantasy

(The projected appearance of 15 Renwick, rendered as a 19th Century Fantasyland)

The idea of New York as a fantasy has reached fever pitch. Lifestyles of the everyday are cast aside for a more glamourized version of Fantasy. The “City as a Theme” has its roots in the Times Square makeover, some would say a Disneyfied version of the lawless jungle it once was. So for 15 Renwick, Queue Disney & The Pirates of The Caribbean; Presented as the Steampunk lair on the Lower West Side of Manhattan.

Not that this is bad. One can say this marketing tact has been quite effective by generating buzz. Who would ever think to reside at this place in this particular location (at the entrance to The Holland Tunnel)? A popular article which is circulating by Citylab and authored by Kristen Capps calls into question the devaluing of the American psyche by the Steampunk campaign. You can read about it HERE to form an opinion. The article’s take is quite enlightening, but the author seems to forget that this is in fact New York. Glamour and fantasy are part of the allure. Objects of beauty abound. This is the birthplace of modern marketing (if you can make it here you can make it anywhere?) Does this pitch ring familiar?

To the Steampunk Ad campaign of 2014: kudos’ to selling an illusion that everyone knows is fake. And to those who think this may be the anti-gentrification rattle saber’s nail-in-the coffin: Who cares what goes on behind closed doors? And for the One’s who can dress in Victorian era dresses, peering out through telescopes across the choking smog of The Holland Tunnel: Now you can have your cake and eat it too.

Links of relatable Note Can be Found Here:

Citylab article on the cultural affect of the Steampunk marketing campaign.

A link to the Steampunk website, if you are wondering what exactly this phenomenon is.

ODA Architecture link to 15 Renwick Street.

Gentrification Void

photo 3

(Gentrification Void, Avenue D, Lower East Side, 2014. Image by Greg Gordon Canaras)

Post Picture of The Day: The Gentrification Void, Lower East Side. The phenomenon of gentrification, ever the talk of The City in this current time, has erased segments of our building fabric, creating voids of urban wasteland. In this instance, a stalled housing project; this current state of apparent construction has lied in this fallow state for years. Perhaps financing has dried up, or proper permits have not been pulled. Nontheless, these empty spaces act as remnants, ringing hollow on the streets of New York.