High Line

An Urban Provocation

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(Honeycomb on The Hudson by Heatherwick Studio. Image by Visualhouse, 2016)

At the massive Hudson Yards complex rising on Manhattan’s West Side, the anticipated centerpiece has been unveiled by London’s Heatherwick Studio.

Towering above the newly constructed platform over the railyards, this Honeycomb of sorts, at least through its representative image, draws the public in like a sieve and portends to act as an Urban Filter for the masses. A large scale and walkable sculpture. At once, another New York Icon which prioritizes the Participatory Public (as a subjective experience) over what easily could have been an exercise in objective “Form Making”.

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(The Honeycomb’s Base. Heatherwick Studios. Image by Visualhouse. 2016)

Nodding to The Chicago Bean, another interactive Art Piece (and more an object in its own right), The Honeycomb softens the edge of an oftentimes Caustic City. Placed in the middle of New York’s man made environment; it is an invitation to view and be viewed within, provoking one’s physical and perceptual senses. An Urban Awareness on the grander scale of The City, which continues to transform at an overwhelming pace.

Exhibiting the Lowline

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(Image of the Proposed Lowline, from RAAD Studio)

The shell of the old Essex Market is soon to become a testbed for The Lower East Side’s most ambitious project, the Future Lowline. While efforts are still in the fundraising stages, local urban blogger “Curbed” reports that the experimental space, which will exhibit a portion of the proposed plantings and finishes, will be on display on weekends starting October 17th.

The future Lowline, much like it’s predecessor, The Highline, aims to convert derelict Manhattan infrastructure into usable Public Space for The City. The challenge all along for the Lowline has been its subterranean location, with concerns surrounding security and lighting at the forefront of the project. It will be interesting to see how the project, in reality, proposes to provide a light filled and safe environment in one of Manhattan’s most challenging locations; A welcome proposal indeed.

More information on The Lowline Exhibit can be found HERE, from fellow blogger Curbed.

The New Whitney : Americana Projected

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(The New Whitney, An American Projection, New York, NY. 2015. Image by Ed Lederman)

The New Whitney, in Manhattan’s West Side / Meatpacking District is set to open on May 1st, and already the reviews are rolling in. So, in a spirit to look past those reviews (some good, some not so good) Our blog celebrates the transformative nature that such a structure brings to a once derelict part of The City. Aesthetics aside, a new museum, any new museum only serves to add as a cultural anchor in the placemaking structure of a Metropolis.

Oftentimes, critics jump at the chance to take shots at what many perceive as a positive force, or in the particularities of a buildings aesthetic nature. While valid as criticism, these gestures often miss the mark of true intention.

People must remember, when reading criticism, that buildings take many years to formulate through ideas and ultimately the execution by thousands of people. Involving multiple hands in the act of construction, they serve as monuments of inspiration not only for ART people, but for everyday people; The Union people and the Industry of Craft.

So, as the criticism of this particular building gets solidified by the arbiters of Architectural taste (mind you they oftentimes write about buildings, but do not actually build them), remember as you read, that this particular emblem is foremost a celebration of the American Spirit. Muscular in true intention. The opening of this emblem is a projection, both inward and outward, of the Everyday People. It almost serves to defy criticism by merely existing.

A link to The Whitney’s descriptive video on the building can be found HERE.

A pragmatic take and cool video on The Museum, not necessarily criticism, from the New York Times can be found HERE.

Westside Robot Rises

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(Westside Robot on 30th St. New York. March 2015. Image by Greg Gordon)

Construction Pic of the Day: The Westside Robot Rises. An image pulled seemingly from another world. Legs straddling precariously over the Highline; Antennae pointed skyward. The Westside continues to grow upward and outward.

This image of The City captures the fast pace of Change enveloping Manhattan. Dizzying to keep track of all of the new development sprouting around, sometimes uncomfortably so. It appears that The City is constantly under construction, roads and all. Never settled. Never static.

Westside Robot symbolizes the constant remaking of our Urban Identity. An object-to-be unto itself; It struggles against the grain and the population at large, adding congestion to an already congested Metropolis. Flip side: The beginnings of this new neighborhood brings a level of optimism to a place which was cast to the wayside. The Westside Railyards.

Westside Robot symbolizes the quest for Urban balance. Sometimes welcomed, sometimes shunned, but ultimately accepted in its place. It will solidify itself as a marker in the Urban Landscape, and someday seem as if it were always there.

Links of Relatable Note Can be Found Here:

High Line Promenade, from Gordon’s Urban Morphology, with first views of Westside Robot under construction.

Platforms, Above and Beyond. An earlier post about the massive construction platform supporting Hudson Yards and Westside Robot.

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.


Tenements

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.


Serpant

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.


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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.


One-World-master675

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!

Gansevoort Market and The Urban Eater

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(Gansevoort Market in the Heart of Meatpacking, New York, NY. October 2014.)

A new eating venue has opened in the heart of New York’s Meatpacking district, adding yet another open market space to this now boutique neighborhood. Overall, the place is an enjoyable environment to mill about and people watch amongst the tourists and residents of the area. A beautiful interior courtyard under a large open skylight adds a focal center between various market stands and coffee shops.

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(Gansevoort Market in the Heart of Meatpacking, New York, NY. October 2014.)

This place, if not discovered, is definitely a destination in its own right. Although a bit pricey on the food side, the variety of offerings and the proximity to the entrance of The High Line make this a refreshing addition to a rapidly changing Meatpacking. Coming up next: The opening of The Whitney right around the corner.

Links of Relatable note can be found Here:

For a link to Gansevoort Market’s Website you can click HERE.

For a map of Gansevoort Market’s location, you can click HERE.

A link to the culinary treats to be found at the market can be found HERE, from New York Eater

A nice Re-Cap article from Forbes Lifestyle can be found HERE. 

Beasts of The West Side

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(West Side Beast, AVA High Line, West 29th St, New York. April, 2014)

The Urban Critic: There is a type of development taking place in The City which is having an irreversible and destructive effect on the form, and the future form of our urban core. These developments are the immense and bland superblock buildings which are appearing on Manhattan’s West Side. Their land plots are cobbled together over years of deal making and lot assembly; then the developer strikes when the iron is hot, hires the most cost efficient architect who will sacrifice their imagination, and proceeds to plunk down these monsters of mediocrity.

Beasts of the West Side unravel the Core Tenet of Jane Jacobs’ philosophy about urban density and variety, which she so famously wrote about in “The Death And Life of Great American Cities” (Random House, 1961). Variety, she professed, is a central driver of a City’s economic and social success with the intermingling of classes and a vibrant street life. In direct opposition to her philosophies, these massive structures divorce society from any true pedestrian scale and day-to-day interaction. Banal, uniform, and unforgiving; These building exteriors create wind swept streets of nothingness.

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(The “Anti-Jane Jacobs” perspective of Urbanism, Streets of Nothingness)

In all due respect, development is good when it is thoughtful and has an intention to fulfill a purpose for greater Mankind. This attitude of optimism is seen at Hudson Yards, where, although the scale is still very large, the developers are thinking about public space and how people move out and about. This thoughtfulness is lacking in the Monolithic Beasts of The West Side. Manhattan deserves, and expects, something much greater than the least common denominator.

Referenced Offenders:

AVA High Line

Gotham West