Month: September 2015

Life in The City, Rising

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(The Pierhouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Image by Pablo Enriquez from The New York Times. 2015) 

A recent article in The New York Times chronicles the daily stressors of living in a City which is constantly in flux. C.J Hughes writes about the loss of views, construction noise and the socio-political climate behind controversial projects such as The Pierhouse Development in Brooklyn. In this instance, construction was halted by local community organizations who feared that the buildings height would take away a valuable public asset: the skyline views from the Brooklyn Promenade.

An interesting read in today’s “construction heavy” New York.

Link to the Article and other relevant articles can be found Here:

The Stress of New Construction, from The New York Times

A Tale of Two Bridges, From Gordon’s Urban Morphology

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The Central Park Spire, Revisited

Nordstrom Spire

(The Spire-less Nordstrom Tower, after an unfortunate design change. Rendering, 2015)

The Urban Critic: Recently, it was revealed that the crowning spire of the soon to rise Nordstrom Tower has been deleted from its design, leaving in its wake another tall glass box with nondescript features.

A year ago in our prior post, The Central Park Spire, we praised the new Supertall for projecting a futuristic & strong profile into the Manhattan skyline. In our era of Supertall skyscrapers, this design, while boxy and predictable at its base and mid section, took on a stronger profile as it crept skyward. It was a gesture toward the audacity of earlier skyscrapers of the 20th Century and a nod that Manhattan was again pushing the upper limits of tall building design.

For reasons likely tied to budget, the spire has been lopped off the top and we are left with another basic box, albeit a very tall one, with a nonexistent crown. It no longer captures the imagination as the once-future-tallest of The City would have.

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(The Nordstrom Spire, with its loftier design. Rendering circa 2014)

Oftentimes, with structures of this scale, ballooning budgets leave the last elements of construction to be reconsidered. A spire is an easy target for a building that may also be a target in itself. As architecture, this is a reversal of a design whose base and shaft seemed to exist for the sole purpose of supporting a higher reaching element. In totality, it feels similar to lopping off the arm of The Statue of Liberty, both in proportion and message.

We ask to bring back the Central Park Spire, so it is a beacon for all who travel to The City from afar, as well as disilliusioned Urban Dwellers. Sometimes looking up is the best medicine; And the many spires of New York serve to keep that raw energy burning.

Prior Posts on The Supertalls of New York:

The Central Park Spire. A blog post where we praised the Nordstrom Tower Spire, from 2014.

Imagination City. Thoughts on the impact of Supertalls on The Urban Skyline, from May 2015.

Two Tenements, Down

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(Two Tenements, Down. New York, September 2015. Image by Greg Gordon)

Urban Memory:

Two Tenements, Down. A companion piece to our prior post, Two Tenements Standing, chronicles the demise of two stalwart buildings which stood guard over Grand Street for over a Century. Somehow, in the mess of the 50’s Urban Renewal destruction, they escaped the mass demolition of tenement complexes in the surrounding blocks and served as steady reminders of a New York, since passed.

Two Tenements Down will now be New York ghosts. For the inhabitants of this City, their absence will remain as a memory marker to a generation. And chronicled by the painter Hedy Pagremanski, Two Tenements Down are memory pieces edified through artistry, serving as a snapshot of urbanity in rapid change.

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(Hedy Pagremanski painting Two Tenements, Standing. Image by Josh Haner from The New York Times)

Two Tenements, Down. Fragments in a malleable Urban Mass of brick, mortar, steel and dreams. Buildings rise and buildings fall. Architecture is never permanent. These structures, once bulwarks on a bustling Grand Street, full of push carts and carriages, have given way to the pressures of modernity, understandably so.

Two Tenements Down are a chronicle of Urban Change, in a City bursting at its seams. They deserve a memory piece only Hedy can preserve in the vibrancy and color of a Lower East Side’s past and present.

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(Tenement Life from Memory Past)

People on the street stop and pause, in partial wonderment and a semi-state of disbelief as the backhoe tears at the tenement walls. Two Tenements, Down. The moment has arrived and the moment soon will pass, when the excavator begins the process anew, digging for the future of the new Urban Settlers.

Links of Relatable Note can be found Here:

Two Tenements, Standing. From Gordon’s Urban Morphology

New York Tenement Museum. A place to learn about the Urban Architecture of New York Past.