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June 2008 Archives

June 25, 2008

Renzo Piano's New York Times Building

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nyt-gehry.jpgBack in 2003 I went to a Frank Gehry exhibition at the Moca commemorating the opening of the Walt Disney Concert Hall across the street. The exhibition was full of many models, some for buildings already built, some to be built, and some never to be built. In this last category was a series of models for the New York Times Building, which stood out because they were skyscrapers, something unusual for Gehry's portfolio. I believe that some of the models used crumpled tissue paper to simulate facade elements.

Two years later, I went to a Renzo Piano exhibit at LACMA commemorating Piano's future renovations to the museum. Among the many models there was his New York Times Building model, which was predictably more subdued than Gehry's though just as unusual for being a skyscraper. Gehry's design was considered a front runner, but he withdrew from the process. Piano's design employed a grilled facade that has won him many a museum proposal in recent years and this time secured him a skyscraper.

nytimes20080621_0068Mimicking the New York Times "Gray Lady" moniker, the relatively unadorned, very gray building stands tall with the vertical grill lines that are only interrupted by the giant New York Times banner logo. Buttresses on the side add a little bit of form to the building, but are minimal. I hear it can be quite beautiful at night with the newsroom lighting out through the facade. During the day the gray grills make even a gray sky more gray.

I would have preferred the Gehry design to be built, though I have a feeling that the Piano design has greater longevity. The un-offending building fits well within the Gotham skyline and they gray grills will soak up the grime and soot of the city with hardly a complaint. The New York Times nearly made it to the 21st century without color and it now has a color-less building to lead it to the next.

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June 26, 2008

High Line NYC

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Thanks to advice from Christian, I was able to find easy access to the High Line in Chelsea. The High Line is an old elevated train track that snakes along the west side of Manhattan. I've been a fan of the High Line because it combines all the joy of relaxing in a park with the thrill of playing on train tracks.

Its a bit hard to figure out from the current construction what the final vision is, but thankfully Curbed just posted some new renderings of the park design:

Frank Gehry - InterActiveCorp Building

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The New York Times Building may not have ended up as Gehry's ticket into New York City, but the less skyscraper-y IAC Building got him a nice spot on the Chelsea waterfront -- he even got to put in a nice deck overlooking the High Line.

The design of the building is meant to mimic sails. You can't really tell from my photos as I was too lazy to cross the street to get the prototypical shot of the building. Instead I was enthralled with how well the glass was able to contort and reflect the blue sky and clouds -- definitely an advantage over Gehry's metal designs. From the adjacent sidewalk its a bit difficult to get a feel for the form of the building --not enough setback -- but you do get a closeup look at the faux-frosting on the windows: little white circles increase in concentration to transition the windows from transparent to opaque.

The building has two things going against it:

1) The lot size is too small for the form imposed upon it. Instead of floating glass sails, it feels like embellishments on a box. Other Gehry designs have been much more successful at deconstructing the rectilinear form

2) The stock IAC logo is ugly.

Gehry will soon have over a block's worth of buildings in Brooklyn at Atlantic Yards, so he'll have more opportunity to make his mark on NYC.

About June 2008

This page contains all entries posted to architecture in June 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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