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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

City Council votes to ignore NYC elegance

This is a mistake.

(Photo source NY Times)

In a vote today that you've probably heard about already, the city council has given permission for a towering building to be constructed almost the same size and less than two blocks away from the Empire State Building (seen in the rendering above).

The building is unremarkable and huge it's like putting a garbage can next to a wedding cake. Sure the garbage can may have a purpose but it doesn't need to be in position to drag down the vibe. Yes, vibe, sensation, emotion the resonance that comes from our collective built environment.

The issue I have isn't that we should forever never again build a giant skyscraper in Manhattan. My issue is that we should build up, not pander down.

Specifics from NYTimes:

(updated post)

I am still saddened by the eventuality of this new building and for anyone who supports the planned new skyscraper I'd like to say this;

My biggest issue with this new building is that presedent is being established as a result of the process that is allowing this plan to go forward and that presedent opens the door to an overwrought unremarkable city.

The presedent and message is there is no sacred space in New York (and you could argue there have been some). And while I agree New York is a constantly evolving city that shouldn't be restrained stricty out of nostalgia, the more worrisome presedent is that there is no standard that city altering construction needs to meet. I'm aware during the construction of the Empire State Building and other landmarks there were people who didnt want it's size and scope, but no one could reasonably argue against it's grandeur and elegance. That's not the case with the planned new skyscraper on the block. It looks like a nondescript object no more distinct than the cap from a magic marker. In fact it's less distinct that the tower in Jersey City which is very similar in design.

And that's my biggest problem, that the city council has given the go ahead to alter the most famous skyline in the world and directly impact te most famous skyscraper in the world to date and they didn't even establish a standard for what it should take to be worth of causing such a reality altering addition.

I also feel and hav felt for a decade that this is an indirect result of the destruction of the Twin Towers. In a pre-9/11 world this would have never flown. 9/11 altered the skyline taking away in a day what had been the last and arguably most significant realignment to Manhattan's skyline in a day. Afterward we yearned to retouch the skyline, initially it was to repair, soon after the conversation turned to revision. Major gestures were planned but like ground zero itself few of those intentions grew ion results. But it didn't matter because the sacrosanct skyline was a thing of the past, the idea had been accepted universally as a result of that day that the skyline would ve different based on choice to counteract the changes made against our will.

Most of the art and aspiration of the months following 9/11 were left to twist in the wind until nothing remained but a public and governmental acceptance of change and then the developers were free to get plans approved that would have been preposterous until that fateful Tuesday morning.

Think to yourself or google regarding changes to the coot post 9/11. There's an entirely new canyon of towers on sixth av just between 23rd and 31st. Williamsburg has towers, downtown Brooklyn has towers Trump builds a mega hotel at Soho's edge. An 80 story tower blocks from the Brooklyn Bridge. I see it as all resulting from that September morning.

Regarding the new skyscraper to rival the Empire state, if you consider the empty lure of jobs the developer offered (most temporary) and the faked necessity (calling it "much needed office space" in a market already over stocked with empty offices and that's before the new Worl Trade Center is built) and the payoff factor as I call it, ($100 million to the MTA to renew surrounding stations the developer Vornado has offered to sweeten the deal, the MTA's acceptance of the $100mil is a clear message to other developers that they need only pay-up to build-up) and I think you have clear reasons why approving this plan was a mistake and an declared disregard for past standards.

The precedent the NYC City Council should have set is that the skyline of New York City aspires to be and often is an elegant space and those attempting to add buildings to the skyline should seek to add elegance not enormous mediocrity.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Photo Wednesday: 08/18/10 You can take the cat out of the jungle...

You can take the cat out of the jungle...

You can take the cat out of the jungle but you can't take the jungle out of the cat.

Franklin Ave, Crown Heights