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pianoman11686
July 24th, 2006, 09:57 PM
Lots of people in the park this afternoon. Apparently HBO's showing some movie for free. Notice the Times Tower peeking out in the distance:

http://images1.snapfish.com/34769%3C66%3A%7Ffp345%3Enu%3D3247%3E4%3A5%3E9%3A%3 B%3EWSNRCG%3D3233978532793nu0mrj


Bryant Park just might be surrounded by New York's greatest collection of historic skyscrapers:

http://images1.snapfish.com/34769%3C66%3A%7Ffp339%3Enu%3D3247%3E4%3A5%3E9%3A%3 B%3EWSNRCG%3D3233978532794nu0mrj


http://images1.snapfish.com/34769%3C66%3A%7Ffp33%3B%3Enu%3D3247%3E4%3A5%3E9%3A %3B%3EWSNRCG%3D323397853349%3Cnu0mrj


http://images1.snapfish.com/34769%3C66%3A%7Ffp33%3B%3Enu%3D3247%3E4%3A5%3E9%3A %3B%3EWSNRCG%3D3233978532796nu0mrj


http://images1.snapfish.com/34769%3C66%3A%7Ffp33%3B%3Enu%3D3247%3E4%3A5%3E9%3A %3B%3EWSNRCG%3D32339785334%3A3nu0mrj


http://images1.snapfish.com/34769%3C66%3A%7Ffp343%3Enu%3D3247%3E4%3A5%3E9%3A%3 B%3EWSNRCG%3D3233978532798nu0mrj


It's a shame 300 Madison had to come along and ruin this view:

http://images1.snapfish.com/34769%3C66%3A%7Ffp345%3Enu%3D3247%3E4%3A5%3E9%3A%3 B%3EWSNRCG%3D32339785334%3A4nu0mrj


http://images1.snapfish.com/34769%3C66%3A%7Ffp33%3B%3Enu%3D3247%3E4%3A5%3E9%3A %3B%3EWSNRCG%3D3233978532799nu0mrj

sfenn1117
July 24th, 2006, 10:05 PM
Bryant Park just might be surrounded by New York's greatest collection of historic skyscrapers

Absolutely, this is probably my favorite small park along with Madison Square. Union Sq is usually too crowded with activists for me.

And about 300 Madison....probably the worst large scale 21st century building in Manhattan. A huge lost opportunity for something spectacular. We got a box that in 30 years will be mistaken for a 60s/70s building.


Nice photos.

pianoman11686
July 24th, 2006, 10:15 PM
Thanks. Yeah, I've really come to hate 300 Madison. Typical big floor plate, drab commercial architecture. Damn SOM for their lack of creativity for such a prominent site.

As for the better architecture: Madison Square definitely comes close, as does the southeastern corner of Central Park. But from Bryant Park, you have views of the Empire State, the Chrysler, 500 Fifth, The American Radiator, The Lincoln, the Chanin, and the NYPL. Tough to top.

Comelade
July 24th, 2006, 10:17 PM
thank you for the photographs, it is for me the most beautiful park of New York. By seeing the photographs I board envy to jump on the first aircraft :):)

ablarc
July 24th, 2006, 10:37 PM
It's a shame 300 Madison had to come along and ruin this view...


Yeah, I've really come to hate 300 Madison.

As for the better architecture: Madison Square definitely comes close, as does the southeastern corner of Central Park. But from Bryant Park, you have views of the Empire State, the Chrysler, 500 Fifth, The American Radiator, The Lincoln, the Chanin...
Looking at those photos suddenly made me realize: all the Deco buildings are landmarks, all the recent ones are the clutter in between. It's like twiddling the dial on your FM radio: islands of sweet music amid expanses of static.

.

lofter1
July 24th, 2006, 10:45 PM
I was on the upper floors at the HBO building today -- fantastic vista of Bryant Park and the surrounding buildings from up there.

Except for one stand-out fugly thang ... that HSBC slab ... glorious interruptus:

http://images1.snapfish.com/34769%3C66%3A%7Ffp33%3B%3Enu%3D3247%3E4%3A5%3E9%3A %3B%3EWSNRCG%3D32339785334%3A3nu0mrj

ablarc
July 25th, 2006, 05:25 PM
^ Here's where you can see that Graves' building fits right in. It has the right proportion, coloration, materials and architectural treatment.

lofter1
July 25th, 2006, 08:19 PM
Agreed ^

Even more so from a higher vista when you see it with the mansard-roofed tower on Madison to the right (name ??).

ablarc
July 25th, 2006, 09:00 PM
Why is this building so often badmouthed?

When I first saw it, from the window of a cab, I did a double-take. Couldn't keep my eyes off it.

pianoman11686
July 25th, 2006, 11:42 PM
I think part of it might be the anti-Graves sentiment among many of the post-Modernism haters here. We'll look at it, and before actually taking it in, our minds will be made up. I can't say I'm not guilty of this, either.

I'll give you this much: I think the proportions are right-on. Unfortunately, I think it would have turned out better with a more subdued color combination. There's just something about it that says "fake Deco" to me. Maybe it's a matter of personal taste. What's important is that he didn't settle on a drab brick/glass residential, or choose to over-do it with the post-Modernist touches. There was an effort made here, and it comes through, one way or another. Can't say the same for most other residentials, like the new one a few blocks down the street.

Luca
July 26th, 2006, 02:39 AM
I've always wanted to own an partment at the top of the Radiator Building.
Better get off the net and work a little harder for that biug bonus, eh?
If I can get my employers to increase it by an order of magnitude I could maybe afford one; easy :D :(

ablarc
July 26th, 2006, 07:52 AM
I think part of it might be the anti-Graves sentiment among many of the post-Modernism haters here. We'll look at it, and before actually taking it in, our minds will be made up...

I'll give you this much: I think the proportions are right-on. Unfortunately, I think it would have turned out better with a more subdued color combination. There's just something about it that says "fake Deco" to me. Maybe it's a matter of personal taste.

What's important is that he didn't settle on a drab brick/glass residential, or choose to over-do it with the post-Modernist touches. There was an effort made here, and it comes through, one way or another. Can't say the same for most other residentials, like the new one a few blocks down the street.
Time was, the average joe was such a bumpkin that you could fool him with knock-offs: Rolexes, Tudor buildings in London, new Tang horses with crazed glaze. Then he learned sophistication and discrimination. Only genuine Beluga, thanks.

I have a distant in-law who works for a prestigious handbag manufacturer everyone has heard of. Their bags were famously counterfeited in China. Objectively the counterfeits' quality was up to the company's high standards, but they were after all fakes, illegal, immoral, and they brought the company no lucre. So they delegated in-law to visit the biggest Chinese counterfeiters and offer them a deal. Now the counterfeiters make the same handbags for the big boys, which makes them genuine, and they sell for an order of magnitude more. The prestigious company's profits are up (and in truth, even the quality), ditto the counterfeiters.

If we're brutally honest, "fakes" are often better than originals. A Lexus is better than a Mercedes, salmon eggs might please some palates more than sturgeon caviar, some of Gamble Rogers' Gothic at Yale is preferable to the stuff it's based on at Oxford, Penn Station was more impressive than Caracalla's baths, many a Tudor manse in Shaker Heights outshines its Cotswolds paradigm, Meier improves the early International Style of Corb, Poundbury's better to live in and more picturesque than the rest of Dorchester --and if you think about it, shouldn't it be possible with hindsight and experience to do an even better Deco building today than it was seventy years ago, when folks had less perspective on the style?

But no, it's immoral...And we put all that effort into learning to discriminate the original...

We're all connoisseurs.

* * *

Instead of using the loaded term "fake deco" could we learn to say "Deco Revival"?

After all, how many times has classical Roman architecture been revived? Why don't we cluck disapprovingly at old Penn Station's phoniness? And if miraculously it were put right back next year, wouldn't we feel duty-bound to revile its kitschy imitativeness? "After all," we might sagely intone, "a building has to reflect its times."

.

Luca
July 26th, 2006, 08:49 AM
If we're brutally honest, "fakes" are often better than originals. .

I would say, surprisingly rarely, though logically that should be the case.


But no, it's immoral...And we put all that effort into learning to discriminate the original...


We're all connoisseurs..

I think you’ve a point there. Is, say, St. Pancras Station really neo-gothic or gothic revival? I think it’s just gothic, and very good at that.

The obsession with scholasticist distinctions and exquisite connoisseurship is a disease of the professional critic (think about the absurd degree to which this is true in the basically dead world of ‘modern’ art, dozens of different names for ‘schools’ that do the same thing, etc.). In the realm of architecture, it has the added insidious toxicity (not unintentionally among modernist theoreticians and practicioners) of circumscribing any point of reference either in time or place and therefore remove its implicit threat of objective judgement in relation to capricious and standard-less buildings.


Why don't we cluck disapprovingly at old Penn Station's phoniness? And if miraculously it were put right back next year, wouldn't we feel duty-bound to revile its kitschy imitativeness? "After all," we might sagely intone, "a building has to reflect its times.".

But of course that is exactly what modernist ideologists did think. Where it not for NIMBYs, budget constraints, etc. I would guess that most or all ‘neoclassical’ buildings the world over would have been razed between the 1940s and 1960s.

pianoman11686
July 26th, 2006, 10:30 AM
Time was, the average joe was such a bumpkin that you could fool him with knock-offs: Rolexes, Tudor buildings in London, new Tang horses with crazed glaze. Then he learned sophistication and discrimination. Only genuine Beluga, thanks.

...and if you think about it, shouldn't it be possible with hindsight and experience to do an even better Deco building today than it was seventy years ago, when folks had less perspective on the style?

But no, it's immoral...And we put all that effort into learning to discriminate the original...

We're all connoisseurs.

* * *

Instead of using the loaded term "fake deco" could we learn to say "Deco Revival"?

After all, how many times has classical Roman architecture been revived? Why don't we cluck disapprovingly at old Penn Station's phoniness? And if miraculously it were put right back next year, wouldn't we feel duty-bound to revile its kitschy imitativeness? "After all," we might sagely intone, "a building has to reflect its times."

Ablarc, has anyone ever told you that you have a knack for getting to the "core of the issue"? I mean, you really hit the nail on the head with this one. Right now I'm reconsidering everything I've ever believed about architecture. Part of me wants to say, "Yeah, he's got a point, but worksmanship was so much better back then that we could get away with Beaux-Arts masterpieces, and look like artists when doing it." But then I think, "Is a modern interpretation of a movement like Art Deco any worse than slavish imitation of Roman architecture?" Have I become so blinded by what we've accepted as a society (meaning, what the critics have imbued in our collective thought process) that I don't give a second thought to the value (and the uniqueness) of a building such as 425 Fifth, and instead just dismiss it as an unconvincing attempt at Deco Revival? What then, do we say of the entire Post-Modernist movement? Was it a good idea, and just executed poorly in most cases? Or was it just a different interpretation of classical architecture by melding traditional forms and materials with advanced technology? I feel like I've come all the way around, from the time when I embraced most things, new and old, as objectively as possible, (meaning that my perception was as pure as it could have been, an uncompromised result of my personal eye for beauty and elegance), to now, when I take into account everything I know about a style or an architect before I even see the building, then weigh it according to the rules of criticism that make me think I'm a connoisseur.

You've got me spinning in circles.

Luca
July 26th, 2006, 11:19 AM
I would certainly not dismiss the importance of your immediate, epidermic reaction.

Knowledge and experience may refine it, but the 'experience' shoudl help you shape your theories, not the other way around.

As for revaluing PoMo, I suppose that if you define (as I and others do) PoMo as a stylized, ironic rendition of classical/vernacualr themes, then failure is almost inevitable. On the other hand, not every contemporary building with hisytorical references is PoMo. Ic ertainly find the concpet of 'imitation' art deco silly. it may be poor Art Deco, but Art Deco is a gloriously modern/artificial style, how can one 'fake' it?

ablarc
July 26th, 2006, 11:42 AM
...but Art Deco is a gloriosuly modern/artificial style, how can one 'fake' it?
That's right, it's "fake" to begin with.

ablarc
July 26th, 2006, 11:55 AM
...spinning in circles.
Reality is complex, isn't it, Pianoman? That's the perception you get from studying reality as it is, not filtered through the veil of theory.

That's also the perception you get from literature. That's why religion hates literature; religion says reality is simple.

Ideology and all other theoretical thought is like religion. I agree with Luca when he says: let your observations lead you to conclusions, not the other way round.

The other way round is what insane people do; nothing will persuade them they're not Napoleon; when the strait-jacket guys come for them: why, they're just being transported to Elba.

You can catch whiffs of theoretical-thought-driven observations everywhere. It's particularly prevalent in planning and design, and you'll also find it on this forum.

Luca
July 26th, 2006, 12:51 PM
I made an utter fool of myself not so logn ago, just spouting something I'd "read in a book".

I was attending a presentation of the big (I eman BIG) plans for developing the Thames estuary ('gateway') at RIBA and I expressed my dismay at the idea of a whole are beign planned at one stroke, insisting that great places grow 'organically' over time. A well-informed hsitorian explaiend to meho places like Richmond, etc. were in effect 18th century planned communtiies. :o

More accurately, I should have expressed dismay at why the 'establishment' thought they would do a better job this time than the horrors they perpetrated in the 1960s.

ablarc
July 26th, 2006, 11:10 PM
I made an utter fool of myself not so logn ago, just spouting something I'd "read in a book".

I was attending a presentation of the big (I eman BIG) plans for developing the Thames estuary ('gateway') at RIBA and I expressed my dismay at the idea of a whole are beign planned at one stroke, insisting that great places grow 'organically' over time. A well-informed hsitorian explaiend to meho places like Richmond, etc. were in effect 18th century planned communtiies. :o
There have always been master plans and building laws (look at Roman provincial cities). The old ones were just generally better. We wilfully forgot the rules of city building after Ebenezer Howard, Frederick Olmsted, Tony Garnier, Le Corbusier and Robert Moses (strange bedfellows, all) encouraged us to. Oh, and add Lewis Mumford to that list.


More accurately, I should have expressed dismay at why the 'establishment' thought they would do a better job this time than the horrors they perpetrated in the 1960s.
In England the establishment consists of unreconstructed modernists who loathe New Urbanism, so your skepticism is justified. Do you have any pictures, or do we have to rely on nick-taylor's tender mercies?

pianoman11686
July 26th, 2006, 11:24 PM
Sound advice, Luca. In all honesty, I don't know how I got away from my normally reality-grounded nature. I've never had a thing for theory; it has its uses in certain fields, but others shouldn't be messed with. Something as real and physical as architecture should be focused on the visual experience, not the mental. Do we really need to theorize about the roofs over our heads? Better leave that for things that we can't explain and/or predict, like science or philosophy. There's nothing much to analyze about a building; either it works, or it doesn't. I'll venture to say it applies equally to music: either it sounds good, or it doesn't. Schoenberg and serialism? No one could possibly find beauty in that, unless he/she were a theorist. Now, that's not meant to disregard the importance of individual taste and cultural motifs. Everyone has their own contribution to make, and we can choose to embrace it or detest it. But to study and adopt the theory that someone thinks up in an attempt to explain it all? Truly, insanity.

I'm going to reserve my judgment on this building until further notice. It deserves another looking-over, in person, and without the theoretical lenses. I'll get back to you on how I "like" it.

ablarc
July 26th, 2006, 11:34 PM
I'm going to reserve my judgment on this building until further notice. It deserves another looking-over, in person, and without the theoretical lenses. I'll get back to you on how I "like" it.
Yer' still thinking too much. ;) Did you like it when you saw it? Free of theories, of course...

pianoman11686
July 26th, 2006, 11:36 PM
I can't even remember anymore. :(

pianoman11686
July 27th, 2006, 10:26 PM
I walked by Bryant Park again today, and although I was in a rush, I took in 425 Fifth for a few moments. I found myself liking its form. From a distance, it is a great building - slender, with verticality emphasized, and it really does take its cues from the surrounding Deco masterpieces. But there was still some reason I was indecisive about whether I really liked the details. Then, as I walked to the other end of Bryant Park, I looked up, and this (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=100707&postcount=87) hit me like a brick wall (no pun intended). I finally was able to completely separate my view of 425 Fifth from all the preconceptions I harbored, and compare it directly with the Residence Inn - a building whose architect didn't even come close to emulating and complementing the surrounding historic buildings, whose style served as the inspiration for its design. Frankly, there is no comparison. To place both of these buildings in the same categories of design quality and attention to context would be a blasphemy; I could not, in my right mind, defend anyone who would do that. And so, I think I've reestablished my true appreciation for architecture - pure, and uncompromised by theory.

Walking further west, and ultimately pulling away from Manhattan on the other side of the river, I caught a glimpse of another building. It's always been one of my favorites, and though it could have stood to be a little taller, I think it's without a doubt, New York's finest 80's skyscraper, and perhaps the best example of a post-Modernist building, anywhere. A classic that took its cues from Deco predecessors, and elevated it to modern form:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/7/7a/Worldpl2.jpg/300px-Worldpl2.jpg

Now, when compared to 425 Fifth:

http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/425fifth/images/425fifth.jpg

So many similarities: good form, chamfered corners, vertical stripes, brick. I think that very slight adjustments to the colors (a truer copper color instead of that blue; an off-white, light beige instead of bright white for those stripes) would have made 425 Fifth one of my favorite buildings.

lofter1
July 27th, 2006, 11:33 PM
To my eye the main fault with 425 is that it has a flatness that you don't find on the Worldwide Plaza tower -- and certainly not on older Deco / Moderne buildings. There is a thinness to the skin on 425 that is neither light nor airy (after all it is for the most part brick) but merely insubstantial. As you point out the coloration is just completely off -- way too much contrast in the two brick tones. Not to mention the odd massing of the windows. Or the strange panels / insets on the upper part of the base section.

It looks like a drawing of a building. And an awkward one at that.

ablarc
July 28th, 2006, 01:13 AM
As you point out the coloration is just completely off -- way too much contrast in the two brick tones.
Colorized, turned up, psychedelic, day-gloed. All revivalist buildings are turned up, that's one of their hallmarks. Forest Hills out-Tudors anything in merrie England.


It looks like a drawing of a building. And an awkward one at that.
That too is a trait of revivalism in general and postmodernism in particular. You could charitably grant it that at least it's honest about being a knock-off. ;)

And fifty years from now, when we're less sensitive or snobbish towards it --because the knock-off will be more than half-way to the original going backwards in time-- it won't bother us at all (anyway, it'll be dirty and the color contrast therefore less).

After all, we forgive sainted Penn Station that it was pure pastiche with suspended plaster vaults: a drawing or sculpture in the shape of Caracalla's baths.

I think we object that a thing so new would dare to look somewhat old. That's a prejudice foisted on us by Modernist theory, and not an eternal truth.

Fabrizio
July 28th, 2006, 04:17 AM
I think Lofter has it right about 425...it´s flat. The art-deco-ish stripes look like wrapping paper. It looks fine from a distance but it´s not ready for it´s close-up.

The World Wide Plaza (like the Carnegie Hall Tower, 15CPW and a couple of other residentials by Stern) is a genuine homage to pre-WWII NYC.

Just look at all of the detail the WWPlaza´s crown.


--------

ablarc
July 28th, 2006, 07:38 AM
...itīs flat. The art-deco-ish stripes look like wrapping paper. It looks fine from a distance but itīs not ready for itīs close-up.
That's also a revivalist trait; money talks, and these days it talks louder.


Just look at all of the detail the WWPlazaīs crown.
Yeah, but then look at its overall proportions. :(

Ninjahedge
July 28th, 2006, 08:49 AM
Piano, that synagogue and the croissant shop are hideous.

I can see where people want to save their heratage, but sometimes an old pair of gym shoes just plain stinks.

Not only is that place tiny, but it is grey, depressing, and practically falling off of its own framework. It really needs, at the very least, a facelift.

Both of them do.

But you will get people crying "historical!!!".

People have to realize that sometimes old does not mean anything more than old! Old and ugly is still ugly!

lofter1
July 28th, 2006, 09:56 AM
Piano, that synagogue and the croissant shop are hideous.


Sorry but you lost me here -- can't find the reference to these ... link?

pianoman11686
July 28th, 2006, 10:15 AM
They're the buildings adjacent to the new Marriott Residence Inn/Bryant Park Tower. I posted a link a few posts back, showing some pics that Midtown Guy took. Here it is again: http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=100707&postcount=87

Ninja, I've actually been in that Croissant Shop. It's a dreary little place, but they're pretty decent bakers. Good baguettes and croissants, if you ever want something different for breakfast. There's only one problem, though: the place always smelled really weird in the morning. Something that they bake for the afternoon, but I could never tell what it was.

Also: who's fighting to save these? I wasn't aware that anyone considered them to be anything other than crap, along with the new devlelopment up the block. You can usually tell which ones are worth preserving: if it's stripped of what makes it historical (ie, ornamentation), or if its just in a condition beyond repair, tear it down. I don't care how dirty it is, though. If it's got the goods, clean it up. Just look at what they did with Grand Central.

pianoman11686
July 28th, 2006, 10:52 AM
I think Lofter has it right about 425...itīs flat. The art-deco-ish stripes look like wrapping paper. It looks fine from a distance but itīs not ready for itīs close-up.

I agree that this building would've looked better with some kind of dome on the roof, perhaps a little pyramid. And if I'm not mistaken, that was part of the original plan, but was cut during the final planning stages (guess why that happened). I don't think a copper dome (a la Worldwide Plaza) would've worked as well here, given that so many of the surrounding buildings already have these (including that midrise hotel across from the library). Maybe some kind of latticework structure that kept the form of such a dome, but signalled the more modern design of the building, would have been a good capper. I don't know, I'd have to see a rendering. I also hope that ablarc's correct in thinking this building will look better when it's aged; of course, that depends on whether the owners will put fresh coats of paint every now and then.

As per the proportions of Worldwide Plaza: that too is a revivalist trait, ablarc, though I think that one had more to do with the community's disdain for over-the-top height. All in all, I think it's the one fault of that building.

lofter1
July 28th, 2006, 10:55 AM
OK ^^ Thanks for the link, pianoman ...

The synagogue is a great little gem.

The croissant shop: classic (although the alteration with the big window at the 2nd floor doesn't help).

Certainly better than continuing that expanse of the deadly new base of the BP tower all along that block front.

Not that I'm advocating tearing these two down but how cool it could be if someone were to get these two parcels, combine them, get some additional air rights and put up a tower rising alongside this new brute -- just to break up the view from the southeast. Don't know what can be done to hide it from the northeast :confused:

Ninjahedge
July 28th, 2006, 11:49 AM
http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=100707&postcount=87Also: who's fighting to save these? I wasn't aware that anyone considered them to be anything other than crap, along with the new devlelopment up the block. You can usually tell which ones are worth preserving: if it's stripped of what makes it historical (ie, ornamentation), or if its just in a condition beyond repair, tear it down. I don't care how dirty it is, though. If it's got the goods, clean it up. Just look at what they did with Grand Central.

I am just going on MTG's post:


I know the owners of the two little buildings wouldn't sell, but...this was the solution??


Seems like there was some sort of reluctance to sell by the owners, then I went off on a tangent... ;)

And sorry about the confusion, I must have cross-linked and come back to the wrong thread to reply!!!

Thanks for the clarification Piano.

ablarc
July 28th, 2006, 10:14 PM
A job for...Sliver Building.