World Trade Center

The Next Great Public Space

An Update to this Blog post from prior: The World Trade Center Path Station will be opening to the public the week of February 29-March 4th. You can read more about this updated opening at The New York Times, and of course, we will have our full architecture review on this space within the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

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(A Cathedral Like View of the New World Trade PATH Station. Image by Hilary Swift)

Original Blog Post: In March, Santiago Calatrava’s creaturelike Path Station will open to the public in what has become a long anticipated unveiling. New York has waited over Fourteen Years for this great step toward healing after the September 11th attacks, and this piece of hallowed ground will march one step closer toward the repair of The City in becoming New York’s Next Great Public Space.

PATH Image

(Inside the New World Trade Center PATH Station, from AM New York. Opening 2016)

Architecture takes a long time. And this project, upon opening, needs to be understood across the broader spectrum of Urban Design. There have been many articles about budget overruns (it is vastly over budget) and pointed critiques about its alien design and “out of context” nature to the World Trade Center site as a whole (it can be interpreted that way). Though on the flip side, this structure is aiming to unify and bring together a collective psyche which was battered both by the trauma of a terrorist event and the long road to recovery, if recovery is even possible. In short form, the building is an instantaneous visual symbol of Hope and will offer positive attributes to The City’s Urban Infrastructure. It will become New York’s next great transit hall, aligning itself with the lost public space, the ghost of Penn Station yore. It will become A new welcome mat which The City, and nation, deserves.

The opening of The New Transit Hub to The Public will take place this March, 2016. You can read more about it HERE:

WTC Website: A map of Transit Stops and a video of the new interconnecting PATH station.

World Trade Center Oculus Will Open First Week of March, From Curbed.

The Serpent of The Trade, from Gordon’s Urban Morphology.

2015 Urban Morphology Roundup

Thank you readers for your continued interest in our blog throughout 2015. Gordon’s Urban Morphology has grown substantially in readership over our prior year as we continue to highlight subjects in New York’s built environment which have galvanized The City in one way or another.

Continuing the tradition from last year, here is our Round-Up of our most popular posts based on user clicks:

 

VISUALHOUSE NEW YORK 2030

VISUALHOUSE NEW YORK 2030

Our most popular post of 2015: Readers imaginations soared to the heights of the Supertall Skyscrapers in Imagination City


Cantilevered Condo

Our most controversial post which touched on the provocative positions which Architecture can take:  The F#ck You Building on The Fringes of Delancey


Essex_Main

The blandness of the Essex Crossing Development, sold to the public as a development which was once much more attractive: A Bait and Switch in The Lower East Side


Fountain View 2 WTC

The redesign of Two World Trade Center, and the impressions this change left us had us lament in Hunchback of The Trade


Nordstrom Spire

And New York’s next great Supertall had its top lopped off in The Central Park Spire, Revisited


Two Tenements Down_2

While our most poignant post revisited a piece of Tenement history, befallen by the wrecking ball in Two Tenements, Down


 So, there you have 2015’s top posts. Thanks again for your readership and stay tuned for 2016 where we’ll continue to strive to bring fresh perspectives on our Changing City. Happy New Year from Gordon’s Urban Morphology.

Time Lapse NYC

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(Time Lapse Image of Lower New York, 1779. By Reuben Hernandez)

A video depicts Lower Manhattan’s evolution from a natural habitat to The Center of Urban density in one continuous time lapse. The video, by Reuben Hernandez for The New York Times, captures the spirit of Urban Morphology spanning multiple decades. A landmass undergoes change from its point of settlement to over 500 years later, with buildings appearing and disappearing as the pace of development continues.

This video is the centerpiece animation for the elevator ride to the Skydeck of the One World Trade Center Observatory.

To see the video of New York and its growth, click HERE.

 

Hunchback of The Trade

Hunchback Image 2 WTC

(Hunchback of The Trade. Rendering Via DBOX. New York, New York)

The Urban Critic: Earlier this week, the newly redesigned World Trade Center 2 Tower was unveiled. We refrained from posting our immediate reaction. Now its a few days later.

At first there was a gasp, then a sigh as disappointment settled in. Next, a rationalization of positive impressions which could be extracted from The Proposal. Maybe those ticker tapes along the cantilevered masses are interesting and modern? The bulky form is progressive, sort of, and the “gardens in the sky” concept is nice for Office Workers. The animation of the lobby and building experience was beyond first class and a work of art unto itself (Click HERE for Animation).

Two World Trade_Tickers

(Times Square Ticker Tapes along the underside of Unsettled Boxes)

Another question, a major question, began to emerge. Why was Norman Foster, the original Towers’ architect, sidestepped after committing to the project for so long? Clearly his firm is capable of adapting any design to the varied needs of clients, as requirements change with the whims of The World. It appears, after the events of the week, that the ushering in of “Newness” coincided with the crowning of Rupert Murdoch’s son, James, as the Titan of the Twentieth Century Fox Empire, aka: the Primary Tenant of Hunchback of The Trade.

As far as our feelings toward buildings go, the sigh and the frown did not abate. The Hunchback, it appears, does not have great angles.

From the Memorial Fountain Side, the structure creates the illusion of leaning: as if lopsided. Leaning, with a potential to fall over; not necessarily the message a building should convey on a site where towers already fell. Was this message already pondered by the Port Authority many years ago when they constructed One World Trade?

Fountain View 2 WTC

(A leaning view of Hunchback from The Memorial Side) 

A small piece of construction history comes to mind. During the erection of One World Trade, many forget that the original tower had chamfered corners, leaning in; A tapered base, much as the tower tapers toward the sky. In fact, the steel super-structure of the tower was built to accommodate this detail. Then, during construction something changed, and the base of the building was made square. Perhaps this was a reaction to an “unsettled” feeling, an imbalance the tower conveyed? Was this a move toward an Architecture of greater stability? Nonetheless, in final form, the building turned out to be a permanent marker on our New York skyline.

1WTC_Base and Final_2

(Original design of 1 WTC, with tapered base, and final form, as constructed. Image on left from SOM/DBOX. Image on right from The Durst Organization)

Fast forward to The Hunchback, newly revealed. It’s form explained as stacked villages in the sky. Its massing curiously changes from side to side. From the viewpoint taken from The Streets of Tribeca, the Hunchback analogy becomes clear. An off-putting mass; a bit awkward and not too elegant. Interesting, maybe for a moment.

Turning back to The Memorial Fountain Side, we return to the Toppling Effect. The leaning tower of 2 World Trade staring at the perfectly symmetrical One World Trade, as if deliberately acting out in defiance.

From the cut corners of the First Tower, now straightened out, to the unsettled mass of Two. Now moving to the innocuous towers of Three and Four, which are really background buildings: The area has become a mismatch, now unified by Santiago Calatrava’s Transit Hub; A bombastic over-budget structure, but one of the only interesting gem’s to emerge in this landscape, by virtue of perversion, alongside the beautiful and solemn Trade Center Fountains.

WTC 1

(The beautiful and solemn Trade Center Fountains. New York, NY. 2014)

In summation, if the message is going to be switched, the tradeoff at this Heritage Site should be a net positive for The City. This is Our Public Space as well, not deferential to James Murdoch’s Media Empire. For many years, an image was created in Our Mental Memory of a soaring Vertical Diamond, with a strong silhouette, punctuating the New York sky. Perhaps this was a visual cliché’, but this design resonated in the mind of The Public.

So, we ask for The Hunchback building to be a better Urban Monument; something more than a leaning tower of blocks with Times Square ticker tapes. A building which will not cut corners, but will resonate with permanence as a Solid Urban Monument, as we were all led to believe.

Links of Relateable Note can be found HERE:

Link to Curbed New York’s article on the Unveiling of Two World Trade.

Link to animation of the future Two World Trade.

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.


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.


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!

A Flawed Review of a National Symbol

One-World-master675

(One World Trade, 2014. Photo by Todd Heisler from The New York Times)

The Urban Critic: The latest critique of the World Trade Center Tower feels all too much the same; Planning that did not reach full potential, missed opportunities, too much government intervention. Written by Michael Kimmelman in the New York Times, the architecture review instead focuses on the surrounding socio-political context which brought the building into existence, and much less on the building itself. After reading the full article on The World Trade Center Tower, there is something in the tone that seems to ring familiarly hollow.

Perhaps it is the expectation that a national newspaper, none other than The Times, should strive to act responsibly in creating a rallying cry around one of the most symbolic of National Treasures. Perhaps it is in recognizing that the symbolism of this particular place, in whatever form it ultimately takes, will serve to make a permanent impression on the memories of the Greater Public.

The buildings’ vertical punctuation mark in the sky; The reflectance of the glass facade beaming sunlight onto a Frenzied City; The illumination of the Trade Center Spire at night. All of these positive attributes, over time, will serve to outweigh the fleeting opinions on the disaffectations of  symmetry and stuntedness. These attributes, as proclaimed by the author, are detrimental qualities that The Tower possesses.

In the end, The Trade Center Tower occupies The Ultimate Space of a Nation that was attacked. Positioned off to the side of Two immense shimmering voids in the landscape, representative of Loss; The Tower defers to a hallowed ground which strives (and succeeds) in creating a feeling of collective unity. Perhaps the Towers’ only necessity is to stand tall and with a strong silhouette, which it does, and need not say more. A silent gatekeeper on the tip of Manhattan shore.

Links of Relateable Note:

New York Times Critique on The World Trade Center, by Michael Kimmelman.

Scalar Absence, and the World Trade Memorials, from Gordon’s Urban Morphology.

World Trade Rising, from Gordon’s Urban Morphology.

A Gem at The Trade

Night_03_CloseUp

St. Nicholas Church (Rendering), New York, NY. Image by Santiago Calatrava Architects.

Soon to rise above ground, the foundations of The Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, the only religious structure destroyed in the September 11th attacks, have been placed. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the same architect of the World Trade Center hub, and subject of our prior post “The Serpent of The Trade”  The new church will act as a central beacon looking out across the Trade Center Fountains.

St. Nicholas Church_Inside

(Interior rendering of the New St. Nicholas Church)

Unknown to many visitors and observers of the reconstruction effort, the church has been mired in many stops and starts through its efforts to rebuild. Now though, A Byzantine form is about to ascend at this place which witnessed great destruction. Another symbol of Hope at The Trade; and undoubtedly a new pilgrimage spot for those seeking solace in Our City.

Links of Relatable Note:

A fly through video of the Church’s future reconstruction can be found HERE.

Link to the St. Nicholas National Shrine page can be found HERE.

An article on the design and rebuilding effort from the New York Times can be found HERE.