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NoyokA
November 30th, 2002, 09:46 AM
After more than a year of studies, the City administration announced that the new traffic configuration at Columbus Circle -- aimed at taming vehicular traffic and giving more space back to pedestrians -- proved more successful than anticipated. The new configuration follows the actual circle and allows for a center space close to 180 feet in diameter, as well as substantially widened surrounding sidewalks. The traffic studies concluded that this layout works--for cars, for pedestrians and for bicyclists.

The NYC Parks Department implemented an interim design for the Circle's center space that creates a welcoming oasis of seasonal plantings, seating and an improved paving surface. The Society praised the interim plan in letters to Parks Commissioner Henry Stern and City Planning Chairman Joseph Rose, but we called upon the City to add a crosswalk between the center circle and the Merchant's Gate entrance to Central Park. This would make pedestrian access between the two destinations safer and easier.

After an extensive RFP process, the City selected the engineering firm Vollmar Associates and the design firm McCobb and Associates to develop a permanent new design for Columbus Circle. When their plans met opposition from community groups, civic organizations, community boards and city agencies, the City hired the Olin Partnership in the Spring of 2002 to develop a proposed scheme for the re-design of the public space at Columbus Circle. The MAS has advocated that Columbus Circle become one of the great civic spaces of the world, and that a world-class design be created for this site. In l997, the MAS invited six prominent designers to propose designs for the circle; these results were published in a special issue of The Livable City entitled "Full Circle: Invited Designs for Columbus Circle. The Olin Partnership, in conjunction with Machado Silvetti, formed a team for this consultation. A selection from their proposal is pictured left.

The Department of City Planning is currently presenting the Olin Partnership design to the Tri-Board Task Force on Columbus Circle, the MAS and other interested civic groups. On September 9th, 2002, the Art Commission held the first public hearing on the Olin Partnership proposal, where the MAS delivered testimony.

Once the design is approved, the City hopes to begin construction in the Spring of 2003.

NoyokA
November 30th, 2002, 09:47 AM
http://www.mas.org/ContentLibrary/machado.jpg

Derek2k3
November 30th, 2002, 11:12 AM
I never thought they would build it.

The Olin Partnership/Machado Silvetti
http://images.fotki.com/v11/free/97aa/3/39399/162597/ColumbusCircleProposal1MachadoSilvettiAssociates-vi.jpg?1038668837
http://images.fotki.com/v11/free/97aa/3/39399/162597/ColumbusCircleProposal13MachadoSilvettiAssociates-vi.jpg?1038668848 http://images.fotki.com/v11/free/97aa/3/39399/162597/ColumbusCircleProposal8MachadoSilvettiAssociates-vi.jpg?1038668857

I liked this one by Rafael Vinoly.
http://images.fotki.com/v11/free/97aa/3/39399/162597/ColumbusCircleProposal7RafaelVinoly-vi.jpg?1038668862 http://images.fotki.com/v11/free/97aa/3/39399/162597/ColumbusCircleProposal5RafaelVinoly-vi.jpg?1038668868
http://images.fotki.com/v10/free/97aa/3/39399/162597/ColumbusCircleProposal4RafaelVinoly-vi.jpg?1038668873 http://images.fotki.com/v10/free/97aa/3/39399/162597/ColumbusCircleProposal3RafaelVinoly-vi.jpg?1038668878

NYatKNIGHT
December 2nd, 2002, 12:43 PM
Wow, these are some ambitious designs. Columbus Circle could be one hell of an intersection in the not too distant future.

To view the designs in pdf format, go here:
http://www.mas.org/ContentLibrary/Liveable_City_4.q_wo_b.pdf

enzo
December 2nd, 2002, 09:01 PM
Very nice! I wonder though if that canopy will interfere with the views from Jazz@Lincoln Cntr at AOL/TW?

Edward
May 25th, 2003, 08:37 PM
From the 1/19/03 NYTimes article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/19/realestate/19COV.html

At the same time, however, they will gain a renovated and relandscaped Columbus Circle, under a $21 million project designed by the Olin Partnership. It is obviously in the developer's interest to raise Columbus Circle from what the landscape architect Laurie D. Olin described as its malformed current state. "It's the kind of public-private partnership you hope will happen,"

Mr. Olin said. His design will reinforce the geometry of the circle with a new fountain around the Columbus Monument, an inner ring of yellow buckeye trees, a landscaped berm, an outer ring of honey locusts and concentric decorative paving.

Kris
May 25th, 2003, 09:07 PM
http://www.machado-silvetti.com/projects/all/columbus2/68_columbus2-1.jpg

http://www.machado-silvetti.com/projects/all/columbus2/main.html

Edward
May 25th, 2003, 10:42 PM
A $21 million project designed by the Olin Partnership to renovate and relandscape Columbus Circle is under way.

Mr. Olin's design will reinforce the geometry of the circle with a new fountain around the Columbus Monument, an inner ring of yellow buckeye trees, a landscaped berm, an outer ring of honey locusts and concentric decorative paving.

20 May 2003.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/guide/columbus_circle/columbus_circle_aol_20may03.jpg

Kris
May 29th, 2003, 09:39 AM
It's too bad they didn't select a more urbane option.

Zoe
May 29th, 2003, 04:32 PM
I'm confused. *Are they just adding more plants and a fountain or are they going to put up that elevated circular thing as in Christian's picture?

Kris
May 30th, 2003, 02:00 PM
What Edward described.

Kris
December 5th, 2003, 11:06 AM
http://www.rion.nu/v5/post/120503/IMG_9649lg.jpg
http://www.rion.nu/v5/post/120503/IMG_9670lg.jpg

http://www.rion.nu/v5/archive/000427.php

emmeka
December 5th, 2003, 12:13 PM
Wow, I have never heared of this before. Is it like a huge glass cylindar or is it just like an elevated glass canopy?

I think that it looks good along with time warner, the area looks like a space-age-tecno space centre or something.

krulltime
December 18th, 2003, 02:28 AM
Anybody knows when this project is going to be finish? I really like this project.

ZippyTheChimp
December 18th, 2003, 09:48 AM
What Edward described!

Edward
February 24th, 2004, 05:29 PM
http://www.nypost.com/realestate/18827.htm
WORK ZONE IS COLUM-BUST FOR VIEW FROM TW CENTER
By STEVE CUOZZO
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

February 24, 2004 -- RELATED Cos. chief Stephen M. Ross wants to know why, after his company spent $1.7 billion to build Time Warner Center and open it on time, dug-up Columbus Circle outside its front door is such a mess.
"We've asked for a task force meeting with the city," Ross said yesterday. "We need a meeting to see why it's having to take so long. Right now, it's beyond me."

The city's Department of Design and Construction says the $20 million reconstruction of the traffic circle and its center island is on schedule, due to be finished by year's end. Only the planting of perennials must wait until spring.

When the job is done, the island that's home to the Christopher Columbus statue will be graced by pretty landscaping and three graceful fountains. But for now, it's a ground zero-like pit full of machinery and ringed by concrete barriers.

It isn't what shops like Joseph Abboud and J. Crew, which broke with custom by agreeing to have giant windows give shoppers a view of the outdoors, were expecting.

And it's hard not to sympathize with Ross' annoyance. The city, under two different mayors, knew that Time Warner Center was to be completed this winter ever since Related bought the land from the MTA in the summer of 2000.

What sort of welcome did the long-awaited edifice, with a Mandarin Oriental Hotel, luxury condos and Time Warner's new world headquarters, enjoy? Besides the circle's reconstruction, it's ringed by treacherous pedestrian crossings, street excavations on Broadway and Central Park West, and the crumbling eyesore at 2 Columbus Circle.

Pedestrians trying to reach Time Warner Center from various approaches must make their way through one of Manhattan's most daunting traffic zones.

The most dangerous approach is from the point where Broadway meets Central Park South. There is no traffic signal at the corner. Unless they walk to West 58th Street, pedestrians must traverse an unguarded crosswalk vulnerable to southbound auto and bus traffic that doesn't always slow down.

The crosswalk takes strollers to the little spit of land that is home to 2 Columbus Circle, which announces the start of Midtown at Time Warner Center's feet. The Museum of Arts & Design hopes to take title to the long-empty hulk by summer and make its new home there after a sensitive redesign by architect Brad Cloepfil.

But the eagerly-awaited transfer is tied up in court by preservationist zealots who don't want its severe, windowless front wall replaced. Meanwhile, the wretched Edward Durrell Stone structure appears to deteriorate with every passing week. Derelicts lurk under a sidewalk bridge that rings the building's base like a noose.

After the city failed time and again to sell it - rejecting offers from Donald Trump and the Dahesh Museum among others - the Bloomberg administration last year touted its planned sale to the design museum.

Officials at the Economic Development Corp. say they're still working with museum execs to finalize terms. EDC spokesperson Janel Patterson said, "If all goes well with the suit, we hope to close by summer."

Museum director Holly Hotchner said through a spokesman, "The museum has raised the funds to purchase the building from the city and renovate it. Construction will begin once the museum has taken title, which will be after the lawsuit is settled. A hearing before a judge is scheduled for this Friday."

Meanwhile, if you're walking to Time Warner Center, be sure to look both ways.

Edward
February 24th, 2004, 05:33 PM
The view of Columbus Circle and the statue of Columbus from The Shops at Columbus Circle (http://www.wirednewyork.com/aol/shops_columbus_circle.htm) on 5 February 2004.


http://www.wirednewyork.com/manhattan/columbus_circle/columbus_circle_5feb04.jpg

krulltime
April 28th, 2004, 04:38 PM
8) Very nice indeed...

krulltime
April 28th, 2004, 04:41 PM
From Christian Wieland

http://www.machado-silvetti.com/projects/all/columbus2/68_columbus2-1.jpg

http://www.machado-silvetti.com/projects/all/columbus2/main.html

Although this design was really interesting to me...oh well too bad :|

Kris
April 28th, 2004, 04:49 PM
http://www.olinptr.com/images/project_image_columbuscircle1.gif

The design intent for Columbus Circle returns the historic monument to public access and appreciation, fostering an environment not present for a generation. The proposed design has been conceived to make the site a safe and attractive addition to the public realm of New York City at one of the principal entries to Central Park and the intersection of three significant streets: Broadway, Eight Avenue and 59th Street. The design features – paving, planting, fountains, seating and lighting – all reinforce the simple idea that Columbus Circle is unique in the City.

The island consists of a series of concentric rings that buffer the traffic and provide a pleasant pedestrian environment for the monument, consisting of a broad, gently raised area of planting, a series of fountains, paving, benches and lights. On the outer perimeter, a ring of raised stone cobbles provides an emerging pedestrian refuge adjacent to the outer vehicular lane, which, in winter, can also accept piles of snow and salt without damage to planting. Next, a ring of colorful low plantings is formed, which can be changed and replenished seasonally. This is encircled by evergreen shrubs, placed to enhance the floral display, and a ring of trees standing in evergreen groundcovers, underplanted with spring bulbs.

Proposed American Yellow Buckeye frame axial views to the historic monument, while providing a partial enclosure in the form of a circular room, in the center of which stands the monument. New benches, scaled to complement the civic space, are to be made of curved wood, designed to be large enough to allow individuals and groups to sit comfortably back to back, facing either the active water and planting or the monument.

The small fountain currently surrounding the monument base is to be removed, allowing the column base to sit firmly on the ground as the central feature of the circle. People will once more be able to approach the monument, to read the inscriptions, and to study the relief sculptures on the base more easily than in recent decades. To replace the loss of the central fountain, new basins are to be created that encircle the central open area. More generous than the former basin and shaped as a series of concentric ledges to form cascades with arching jets towards the center, the new fountains will reinforce the circular design and primacy of the monument, while masking the noise of the traffic and tempering the climate in summer. The fountain is designed to form a series of bleacher seats which, when turned off, avoid the forlorn character of so many empty fountain bases in the City, visible during the colder months.

It is the intent of these simple gestures to make obvious the importance of this civic space and monument, and to return it to the citizens and visitors of New York City as an inviting celebratory place. It is a place to pause and refresh oneself in the midst of one of the busiest intersections in the metropolis – a foyer to Central Park, an event on Broadway, and a handsome scene for those who live, work and visit this great city.

http://www.olinptr.com/project_current_urban2.html

http://www.metropolismag.com/images/images_0404/ob/ColumbusCircle3.jpg
http://www.metropolismag.com/images/images_0404/ob/ColumbusCircle2.jpg

Discreet Landscapes (http://www.metropolismag.com/html/content_0404/ob/ob01_0404.html)
Laurie Olin’s graceful greenspaces are also secret security systems.

Eugenius
April 30th, 2004, 10:50 AM
It looks great.

My only concern is that the fountains are too close to the benches if the wind conditions are anything but calm, you are going to see people getting hit by the spray coming from the fountains.

nike
July 24th, 2004, 08:54 PM
Has construction of the ring been cancelled.

NoyokA
July 24th, 2004, 09:03 PM
Has construction of the ring been cancelled.

Yes.

BigMac
July 24th, 2004, 09:34 PM
I'm glad; I prefer Olin's design.

Kris
August 1st, 2004, 08:03 AM
August 1, 2004

WEST SIDE

Which Way Is Out? Solving the Riddle of the Circle

STEVEN KURUTZ

http://graphics7.nytimes.com/images/2004/08/01/nyregion/thecity/20040801_circle.jpg

PERHAPS the best spot from which to view the construction that has overtaken Columbus Circle is not at ground level, but from the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental hotel, 35 stories above the city in the Time Warner Center, where this eastward-looking photograph was taken.

From this lofty vantage, the entire site is laid out in precise, almost elegant detail: the improvised traffic lanes that shift to accommodate construction; the beginnings of what will be the wide outer ring; the steady procession of taxis, cars and heavy machinery around the Columbus monument.

The $15 million renovation that will transform Columbus Circle is nearing the end of the heavy work phase. By mid-August, roadwork is expected to be completed and crews will move inside the circle to install a three-tiered fountain and to plant trees and other greenery. Matthew Monahan, a spokesman for the Department of Design and Construction, said the city plans to complete the project by year's end.

For pedestrians and drivers who have withstood untold nuisances from pounding jackhammers and rumbling trucks, that prospect is welcome news.

Which brings us to another reason that the view from the Mandarin is so spectacular: Up here, the only sound is the gentle whir of the air-conditioning.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

matt3303
August 2nd, 2004, 10:07 PM
Finally Columbus Circle will look more like the important place it is. It's always a good thing when the city replaces concrete with greenery. And thank God they scrapped that glass ring.

krulltime
August 4th, 2004, 07:44 PM
It looks like work as usual on the circle:

http://www.pbase.com/image/32192148.jpg
http://www.pbase.com/image/32192138.jpg
http://www.pbase.com/image/32192128.jpg

RedFerrari360f1
August 5th, 2004, 12:37 PM
When is work expected to be complete?

ZippyTheChimp
August 5th, 2004, 01:37 PM
Nice view from the monument down 8th.

From the article:

The $15 million renovation that will transform Columbus Circle is nearing the end of the heavy work phase. By mid-August, roadwork is expected to be completed and crews will move inside the circle to install a three-tiered fountain and to plant trees and other greenery. Matthew Monahan, a spokesman for the Department of Design and Construction, said the city plans to complete the project by year's end.

billyblancoNYC
August 6th, 2004, 02:02 AM
Thank God. I still think it's a shame that this mess is there when TWC is up. It should have been done in tandem. Oh well, better late than never.

NYatKNIGHT
August 6th, 2004, 11:26 AM
The project "should be complete by the end of the year", when the weather will be too cold to plant anything or run the fountain.

Edward
March 12th, 2005, 10:57 PM
They started reconstruction in what - May 2003? - almost 2 years - that's a long time for a fountain. 10 March 2005. The view from One Central Park.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/manhattan/columbus_circle/columbus_circle.jpg

BrooklynRider
March 13th, 2005, 05:44 PM
There are large area, outside the edge of the fountain, that encircles the tower, which covered in white plastic. From the street it, it appears peaple can walk in it. Anyone have any ideas what it might be?

fioco
March 14th, 2005, 05:15 PM
In Post #20 (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=26745&postcount=20), Kris included text and images from the Olin Partnership website. The central fountain has been removed and will be replaced by concentric circles that contain fountains, plantings and a ring of trees. Perhaps what you noticed is a winterized work area to protect the plumbing, etc., during construction.

Edward
May 6th, 2005, 06:28 PM
Im still waiting for the DOT Traffic Cams (http://nyctmc.org/xmanhattan.asp) to start working again at Columbus Circle, does anyone know what the staus of the construction in the middle is?
(http://nyctmc.org/xmanhattan.asp)
--------------

Derek2k3
May 6th, 2005, 08:13 PM
I was there that same exact day too...unless fires were a common thing.

NYatKNIGHT
May 9th, 2005, 03:27 PM
The wall is down.

macreator
May 9th, 2005, 05:16 PM
And what a difference it makes! Now if we can just get some trees and shrubs planted almost everything will be perfect at Columbus Circle. Hopefully the redesign of 2 Columbus doesn't take too long.

jp1
May 10th, 2005, 12:49 AM
what exactly are the spray-painted arrows doing pointing downward on the Columbus Column?

sirhcman
May 10th, 2005, 01:30 AM
what exactly are the spray-painted arrows doing pointing downward on the Columbus Column?

Pretty sure they are anchors....

RandySavage
May 30th, 2005, 10:00 PM
The redesigned Columbus Circle is now open to pedestrians. Construction is not quite finished as there is still work being done on the fountains (they were not operating when I went by).

RedFerrari360f1
May 30th, 2005, 11:10 PM
and the anchors arent spray painted on...

BigMac
May 31st, 2005, 04:42 PM
Posted by Lockart on curbed (May 3):

http://www.curbed.com/archives/2005_05_cc1.jpg

http://www.curbed.com/archives/2005_05_cc2.jpg

http://www.curbed.com/archives/2005_05_cc3.jpg

Posted by WhatISee on WhatISee.org (May 27):

http://whatisee.org/mt/archives/images/columbuscircle.jpg

londonlawyer
May 31st, 2005, 10:01 PM
Due to poor landscaping, it currently looks like crap. The trees look anemic, and the bushes look messy. This is extremely disappointing, and it's pathetic that it took so long to build. It has potential though... It just needs good trees now (rather than waiting 15 years for them to grow) and to put in flowers (as in the renderings), rather than the scraggly bushes.

They should also put back the fountain that surrounded the monument. Just because a new fountain was added doesn't require getting rid of the old one.

Fabrizio
June 1st, 2005, 07:16 AM
Great without a fountain. Eliminate the easy popular-choice trees and flowers. Plant perfectly manicured lawn and low bushes. A clean, elegant wide-open, piazza-like space. Serious and minimal.

TonyO
June 28th, 2005, 12:12 PM
NY Sun
6/28/05

Two Years and $20M Later, Traffic-Plagued Columbus Circle Near Completion

By DAVID LOMBINO, Special to the Sun

Soon, for a time at least, the circle will be unbroken.

The eternally clogged intersection at Columbus Circle seems to have been under construction forever. After two years and $20 million, however, the latest of its construction projects is essentially complete, slightly late but slightly under budget. A ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Bloomberg is being planned for later this summer.

The circle, at the southwestern corner of Central Park, was enlarged, landscaped, and outfitted with a high-tech fountain that encircles the monument. The surrounding streets were rebuilt with new sidewalks, curbs, lights, water mains, and sewers.

"This was not our everyday project," the assistant commissioner of the city's Department of Design and Construction, Evans Doleyres, said. "Our normal problems were magnified tenfold." The agency oversees and executes city construction projects.

The project was scheduled for completion in late 2004, but builders had to reroute traffic from six major thoroughfares, carve an underground control room the size of an apartment into a bed of solid underground rock, and juggle jurisdictions with an alphabet soup of city agencies.

Stakeholders included the departments of transportation and environmental protection, Con Edison, New York City Transit, Parks and Recreation, the Central Park Conservancy, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Art Commission, the Municipal Art Society, local community boards, and the big construction project next door: the $1.7 billion Time Warner Center.

Last to be completed is a fountain with two concentric rings of arching water, which was developed by WET Design, the team that built the fountains at Las Vegas's Bellagio Hotel and Casino and the Brooklyn Museum. An underground computer coordinates the sequencing of water spurts, adjusting for wind changes, and is connected by modem to the designer's office in Los Angeles.

Long, curved benches made from ipe, a tropical hardwood, surround the basin.

"When you go in there, hopefully the noise of the city will be drowned out. The water is a clue that you are in a special place," a representative of the landscape architecture firm Olin Partnership, Allan Spulecki, said. "The center emanates out, becoming a bull's-eye in an urban center. Columbus Circle is in a very special spot in New York."

The monument is the point where distances to and from the city are officially measured.

The 40-foot marble monument of Columbus, by the Sicilian sculptor Gaetano Russo, was erected in 1892, the 400th anniversary of the explorer's journey to what became America.

In 1991, the statue was restored in preparation for its centennial, and seven years later, the city turned Columbus Circle into a real circle, changing traffic configuration, improving pedestrian access, replanting, and installing benches. The current project began in 2003.

Its completion, however, will not forever banish the orange cones. The statue is to undergo another restoration before Columbus Day this October, and the Museum of Art and Design hopes to proceed this fall with its controversial plan to renovate and move into the "lollipop motif" building, designed by Edward Durell Stone, at 2 Columbus Circle.

lofter1
June 28th, 2005, 01:17 PM
NY Sun, 6/28/05

Traffic-Plagued Columbus Circle Near Completion

The circle, at the southwestern corner of Central Park, was enlarged, landscaped, and outfitted with a high-tech fountain that encircles the monument.

Last to be completed is a fountain with two concentric rings of arching water, which was developed by WET Design, the team that built the fountains at Las Vegas's Bellagio Hotel and Casino and the Brooklyn Museum.

I stepped over the yellow tape and between the cones the other day to take a look -- maybe when the trees get bigger and the water is running it will have some life.

Skateboarders seem to love it -- about 6 guys were doing tricks on every available edge and surface. They've already left their marks (tell-tale signs being the streaks along the stone edges of the "fountain" and entry portals).

And I hope they figure out some other solution to the current bank of yellow & black arrow signs that flank the southern edge. Really horrifying. Why didn't the designers / DOT consider the necessity of directional signage and work it into the design?

krulltime
June 28th, 2005, 03:19 PM
Due to poor landscaping, it currently looks like crap. The trees look anemic, and the bushes look messy. This is extremely disappointing, and it's pathetic that it took so long to build. It has potential though... It just needs good trees now (rather than waiting 15 years for them to grow) and to put in flowers (as in the renderings), rather than the scraggly bushes.

They should also put back the fountain that surrounded the monument. Just because a new fountain was added doesn't require getting rid of the old one.

Yes I don't see anything to be excited about with this new landscaping.... Is just boring looking.

BrooklynRider
June 28th, 2005, 03:26 PM
Okay, I'm a greasy Italian man (in the nicest sense of those words) and when I get home my face has acted like a magnet to every grain of soot, diesel exhaust and dirt particle floating around the air (you get the visual?).

As much as I admire the aesthetic aspirations for this circle of cement with the giant studded dildo sticking out of it, I must wonder (out loud - right here with you) how filthy will my face get spending, say, fifteen minutes in that eddie of exhaust and fumes?

RandySavage
June 28th, 2005, 03:30 PM
I agree that because the trees are young and spindly (and there are no bush or hedge plantings in between them), the circle currently looks pretty bare. I've also seen teenagers climb all over the statue column and sitting on the pediment like it's some kind of jungle gym.

However, this Bellagio fountain sounds like it could be really cool, so I will reserve judgement until it is officially complete.

krulltime
June 28th, 2005, 04:16 PM
http://www.machado-silvetti.com/projects/all/columbus2/68_columbus2-1.jpg

Oh the good old days....

I knew something was intersting fresh about this design. Its call 'creativity'

TLOZ Link5
June 28th, 2005, 05:39 PM
Okay, I'm a greasy Italian man (in the nicest sense of those words) and when I get home my face has acted like a magnet to every grain of soot, diesel exhaust and dirt particle floating around the air (you get the visual?).

As much as I admire the aesthetic aspirations for this circle of cement with the giant studded dildo sticking out of it, I must wonder (out loud - right here with you) how filthy will my face get spending, say, fifteen minutes in that eddie of exhaust and fumes?

That was my real-life LOL moment of the day.

ZippyTheChimp
July 25th, 2005, 07:59 AM
The fountains really do kill the traffic noise.

http://img288.imageshack.us/img288/6849/colcircle101pf.th.jpg (http://img288.imageshack.us/my.php?image=colcircle101pf.jpg)

ablarc
July 25th, 2005, 09:44 AM
You tantalize with a beautiful photo, Zippy, but I still can't tell what the experience of new Columbus Circle is. How about some more pics?

ZippyTheChimp
July 25th, 2005, 10:28 AM
That's the only photo. The benches along the fountain pools need to be in place to get an accurate view of how the public will engage the space. I plan a return visit next weekend.

At the moment, the stepped base of the monument is the only place to sit.

The space will not be a shady grove, an impression given by the overhead renderings. If there are too many trees, they would eventually form a canopy, and the monument would be visually lost from outside the circle.

When the outer ring of plantings are about three feet high, traffic will be screened from view.

Stay tuned.

lofter1
July 25th, 2005, 10:44 AM
My only concern is that the fountains are too close to the benches if the wind conditions are anything but calm, you are going to see people getting hit by the spray coming from the fountains.
On a hot summer day that spray could be just the right answer.

Clarknt67
July 25th, 2005, 12:21 PM
I took a walk there on Saturday. I agree, the trees are pretty sad looking. They look like they'll need at least another decade to grow to a size appropriate to the place. Why didn't they just spring for more mature trees?

ZippyTheChimp
July 25th, 2005, 12:56 PM
As it was once explained to me:

A percentage of transplanted trees do not survive, because 90% of the root system is lost, and the tree is under great stress until it can reestablish the proper ratio of tree size to root system. As trees mature, the roots grow horizontally, so an older tree will lose more of its roots during the transplant, and it will take longer than a younger tree to stabilize.

The transplant needs constant attention during this time, something it is not going to get in an urban traffic environment. That is why younger, more resilient trees are selected.

ablarc
July 25th, 2005, 01:53 PM
^ What you say is true, as far as it goes. And unimpeachably true in all particulars in a low-maintenance, low-care environment such as you might expect these days from city workers in Columbus Circle.

Here's another scenario from a different time and place: When New York's Olmsted Brothers were hired to lay out Charlotte's Forest Hills-like streetcar suburb of Myers Park, they found themselves close to the forest edge. There they found a tangle of magnificent willow oaks striving lankily toward the light.

They harvested the 40 to 60 foot trees and lopped off the sparse lower branches, then hauled the trees by mule team and planted them in close-spaced rows along all streets in their new subdivision. In short order these magnificent, vertically-proportioned forest trees expanded horizontally to form canopied streets that remind onlookers of Gothic church vaults.

Beneath this verdant canopy, summer temperatures are usually 5 degrees lower. Visitors invariably exclaimed about the magnificent visual order of this single-species tree canopy, which gave Charlotte its unique character. They had never seen anything like it; the closest thing was the allees of Versailles.

Either the survival rate was high due to loving care, or the trees were replaced as they died, because until about 15 years ago, the canopy was both complete and even, with trees of similar girth and height.

Then the city foolishly hired a second New York landscape consultant, who advised the city that good disaster planning for possible future diseases called for a varied tree cover in case a disease struck the willow oaks. This lamentable policy was adopted, and Charlotte has been losing its unique character ever since, as the magnificent willow oaks are culled (supposedly the less healthy ones are removed first) and replaced either with a variety of species or with smallish, store-bought willow oaks with their nursery-bred conical shape.

Every year Charlotte looks less like Charlotte. It still has trees, but so does Toledo.



Conventional wisdom.

Clarknt67
July 25th, 2005, 03:30 PM
The transplant needs constant attention during this time, something it is not going to get in an urban traffic environment. That is why younger, more resilient trees are selected.

Of course that makes sense but it still rather boggles the mind that, what $5 Billion dollars can be spent to build the TWC but they skimp on the landscaping? It really would serve the area better to have bit the bullet, there aren't THAT many trees, a dozen?

TLOZ Link5
July 29th, 2005, 01:19 PM
An instant hangout spot, comparable to the Pulitzer Fountain at Grand Army Plaza. I just wish that the trees were more mature, and when I was there for the first time there was a lot of water on the ground. Anyone think that the fountains leak?

Fabrizio
July 29th, 2005, 02:56 PM
I´d like to see the circle without trees. I think it would look more sophisticated.

czsz
July 29th, 2005, 04:28 PM
An instant hangout spot

It seems like too much of an effort to cross the circle deliberately just to hang out, especially as the southwestern gate of Central Park and the entrance to the TWC just adjacent are both more accessible and already extremely popular in that regard. Maybe putting a subway entrance in the circle would have enlivened it, and create enough pedestrian flow across the circle to entice those otherwise too perturbed by the obstacle of the traffic.

lofter1
July 29th, 2005, 10:43 PM
It seems like too much of an effort to cross the circle deliberately just to hang out
When the traffic is stopped by the red lights it takes all of 15-30 seconds to cross into the circle. That's less time than crossing from TWC across B'way + CPW to Central Park.

TLOZ Link5
July 30th, 2005, 03:42 AM
It seems like too much of an effort to cross the circle deliberately just to hang out, especially as the southwestern gate of Central Park and the entrance to the TWC just adjacent are both more accessible and already extremely popular in that regard. Maybe putting a subway entrance in the circle would have enlivened it, and create enough pedestrian flow across the circle to entice those otherwise too perturbed by the obstacle of the traffic.

Grand Army Plaza faces the same dubious traffic and contextual obstacles that Columbus Circle does, by your logic; yet it is a successful public space and an integral part of the city's fabric. It directly abuts, yet is not part of, Central Park: providing a respite from the city without creating the illusion of having actually left it. The first time I went to the newly completed Columbus Circle, there were dozens of people hanging around — and this was around 11pm on a weeknight.

ablarc
July 30th, 2005, 10:48 AM
More pictures, please.

ZippyTheChimp
July 31st, 2005, 11:42 PM
OK

http://img131.imageshack.us/img_viewer_framed.php?loc=img131&image=colcircle045xy.jpg&gal=img131/5298/colcircle045xy.jpg

pianoman11686
August 1st, 2005, 12:05 AM
Judging by the clear sky and the relatively low number of people, I'd say you were there around...10 am?

GVNY
August 1st, 2005, 10:32 AM
It's not bad. Certainly an improvement.

ablarc
August 1st, 2005, 09:08 PM
Thanks for the photos of the new Circle treatment, Zippy.


It's not bad. Certainly an improvement.
That’s about it; faint praise.

We waited for years for this?

It’s better now than ever before, but Columbus Circle has had a rocky road to its present incarnation.

In 1920, streetcars paraded through on their way to Times Square. The high-rise must have made a nice visual terminus for Central Park South, as the gap in TWC does now. There seemed a lot of pavement to cross. Lonely on its tiny block, stood a mansarded precursor of Stone’s presently threatened 2 Columbus Circle; for decades until the TWC came along, that little gem alone proclaimed the circularity of this intersection grown amorphous.

In the more enlightened twenties, however, the Circle’s buildings more or less agreed on its roundness, even the two-story pipsqueaks. Of these, the almost-triangular structure at Broadway and Central Park West was another one of those low-rise skyscraper bases that Hearst was in the habit of abandoning about the city; when this Tudor terra-cotta building came down for the Gulf and Western (now Trump) Building, it was found to have sufficient steel structure to support a tower. This one bit the dust, while Foster is augmenting the other (though without retaining its anticipatory structure). Are there more of these secreted somewhere about town?

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/colcir/1920.jpg

At street level, the Circle seemed respectable enough in the early Twenties, and perhaps surprisingly placid; streetcars don’t intimidate quite like a yellow wall of cabs, and even the innermost circle enjoyed the company of pedestrians, though not yet a fountain:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/colcir/20a.jpg
Sporty car, nifty subway kiosks in traffic island, good price on cigarettes.

At night, the high-rise seemed strangely post-Modern; the south-facing façade vaguely Dutch:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/colcir/20b.jpg

Unsurprisingly, it was called the Circle Building:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/colcir/20c.jpg

By 1933, some modest skyscrapers had lounged onto the scene. The billboards almost rivaled Times Square, there were still plenty of row houses, and Irwin Chanin’s glitzy Century Apartments were brand new:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/colcir/1933.jpg

In 1938, the Hearst building sported a Coca Cola sign to rival Times Square’s, and the Mayflower Hotel still had its ornament:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/colcir/1938.jpg

By 1946, 240 Central Park South had arrived on the scene, and row houses were growing scarcer:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/colcir/1946.jpg

With his usual zeal for the banal and his wooden eye, Robert Moses replaced the vaguely-Dutch high-rise with the Coliseum, a lump that trashed its surroundings for decades. It denied the Circle and it denied the axis of Central Park South. Denied it? More like: stopped it dead in its tracks with a big blank wall. For a Modernist, it was an article of faith that if something was liked by the Beaux-Arts it just had to be bad. Apply that thinking and you can see why most architects didn’t lift a finger to prevent Penn Station’s demise.

The organically distorted Circle now featured roadways cleaving meaningless interstitial spaces, parked cars, and even little suburban patches of grass. Perhaps out of guilt, the new Gulf and Western Building provided a circle of its own, a new subway entrance. G+W replaced the lowly Hearst skyscraper base, and assisted in the Circle’s dissolution with a narrow face to the circle –-so narrow, in fact, that it exceeded a prudent slenderness ratio and swayed in the wind until new owner Donald Trump engaged Philip Johnson to imagineer it as a hotel. This now came complete with a 3-D circle in the form of a globe:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/colcir/80a.jpg
1980’s

Until quite recently, only Stone’s little folly believed in the Circle. That’s one of the traits that makes it a pioneer of post-Modernism.

.

Citytect
August 1st, 2005, 09:48 PM
Wow. Great images.

expose05
August 1st, 2005, 10:18 PM
the statue at columbus circle had a lot of soot in the 20's :(

lofter1
August 1st, 2005, 11:01 PM
ablarc: you're a terrific resource for those of us who love nyc...thanks for all the great info you provide.

sfenn1117
August 2nd, 2005, 12:44 AM
Fantastic post ablarc.

While it's nothing extraordinary it definitely looks great. I love the old pics! The site of the TWC sure has changed a lot, but now it's perfect.

Fabrizio
August 2nd, 2005, 05:14 AM
Wow! those are great photos... things I´ve never seen before. I love the circle in the early shots. I like the statue plunked down there in the middle of a flat circle with no trees and stuff.... add cobble stones and it could be a circle in Milan. I think the problem today is that urban designers go way overboard with all the friendly accoutrements, so afraid of austerety... they´ve got to squeeze in lawns and bushes, flowers, fountains, trees, steps, seating...it can all get very dumbed down looking.

billyblancoNYC
August 2nd, 2005, 11:40 AM
Man, I hate to say it, but NYC back in the day was a more picturesque city in a lot of ways than it is today.

BrooklynRider
August 2nd, 2005, 11:51 AM
Picturesque as it was. Envision all of that in 95 degree humid weather wearing the dress of the day: three pice suits and hats with no airconditioining anywhere.

Not a pretty picture.

billyblancoNYC
August 2nd, 2005, 11:56 AM
Picturesque as it was. Envision all of that in 95 degree humid weather wearing the dress of the day: three pice suits and hats with no airconditioining anywhere.

Not a pretty picture.

True. But the same picture with some dope Old Navy board shorts and some central AC and you've got yourself a party.

Fabrizio
August 2nd, 2005, 02:16 PM
LOL! Exactly.... obese tourists in track suits are not the pretty picture. Maybe folks did have to sweat it out back then, but they were a lot more classy looking.

Alonzo-ny
August 2nd, 2005, 07:31 PM
LOL! Funny posts.

I love seeing a series of images like that i love watching ny develop, makes you wish you could see the future, Anyone hazard a guess what will be there in 100 years?

Alonzo-ny
August 2nd, 2005, 07:47 PM
Wait a minute why does it say red sox fan under your name instead of member?

TLOZ Link5
August 2nd, 2005, 10:42 PM
Yay, ablarc!

BTW, is that long, low building to the right of Central Park Place in the 1980s picture still around?

Some scenes in Taxi Driver were filmed around Columbus Circle. I remember seeing the fountain shooting pretty high jets of water around the Columbus monument, and lots of wrought-iron fences around the perimeter. The Jimmy Carter-esque Presidential nominee delivered a primary speech very close to the Maine monument.

sadfg
August 3rd, 2005, 03:53 PM
They tore this right building down for the TIHT !? Damn thats quite a building to demolish!!

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/colcir/80a.jpg

sfenn1117
August 3rd, 2005, 04:33 PM
They tore this right building down for the TIHT !? Damn thats quite a building to demolish!!

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/colcir/80a.jpg

It's the same building. Trump just bought it and renovated it. It's actually not a bad box.

ablarc
August 3rd, 2005, 05:03 PM
Same building, new clothes. In the process, they re-spaced the floors (seven more in all: 52 vs. 45 stories), which stiffened the building. Consequently it no longer sways.

.

kz1000ps
August 3rd, 2005, 10:13 PM
How did they squeeze more floors out of the same envelop? This seems like a major engineering endeavor. Then again, the building wasn't rigid enough in the first place so I suppose some action was necessary. Does anybody have pictures of its renovation?

ablarc
August 3rd, 2005, 10:33 PM
How did they squeeze more floors out of the same envelop? This seems like a major engineering endeavor. Then again, the building wasn't rigid enough in the first place so I suppose some action was necessary. Does anybody have pictures of its renovation?

"Problems with the 45-storey building's structural frame gave it unwanted fame as its base was scaffolded for years and the upper floors were prone to sway excessively on windy days, actually leading to cases of seasickness.

The 1997 renovation into a hotel and residential building, the Trump International Hotel & Tower (One Central Park West), by Costas Kondylis and Philip Johnson involved extensive renovation of both interior and facades. For example, the 45 storeys of the original office tower were converted into a 52-storeyed residential building, enabled by the lower ceiling height of residential spaces. The facade was converted with the addition of dark glass walls with distinctive shiny steel framing."

--http://www.nyc-architecture.com/UWS/UWS001.htm

http://www.thecityreview.com/uws/cpw/cpw1.html

lofter1
August 3rd, 2005, 11:18 PM
They tore this right building down for the TIHT !? Damn thats quite a building to demolish!!

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/colcir/80a.jpg

They didn't tear the one on the right down...

It was restructured by adding more diagonal supports (to give the building additonal strength -- and to stop it from swaying in the wind!!!) and then it was re-clad in the glorious Trump Bronze tones.

macreator
August 4th, 2005, 12:49 AM
The circle was awful in the 80's when they cut through it and allowed cars to park in it.

The only thing worse was that awful New York Coliseum building. The TimeWarner Center is by far a much better complex.

BigMac
August 4th, 2005, 10:16 AM
New York Times
August 4, 2005

An Island of Sanctuary in the Traffic Stream

By DAVID W. DUNLAP

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2005/08/04/nyregion/04blocks_lg.jpg
Columbus Circle, at the confluence of thoroughfares at a corner of Central Park, has a whole new look. Children evaded the heat by playing in the new fountains.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2005/08/04/nyregion/blocks.184.1650.jpg
Randal Yang and his daughter, Haley, enjoyed the cooling spray.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2005/08/04/nyregion/04blocks2_lg.jpg
A view of Columbus Circle in a less-trafficked time around 1925, from a postcard of the era.

At last, the circle has a center.

Columbus Circle was once one of the least approachable of New York's great public intersections. The architecture critic Paul Goldberger described it in 1979 as "a chaotic jumble of streets that can be crossed in about 50 different ways - all of them wrong."

Today, there are three different ways to cross Columbus Circle. And they are leading a growing number of pedestrians to a surprisingly generous sanctuary at the heart of a busy traffic rotary, cocooned inside a wrap-around fountain with 99 jets whose arcs suggest the circle itself and whose changing sound masks the surrounding hubbub.

"Even incomplete, you see the potential for a glorious public space," said Amanda M. Burden, the director of the City Planning Department, which has worked for nearly two decades to put the fragmented circle back together.

The new Columbus Circle has not yet officially opened. (Monday, Oct. 10, suggests itself as a possibility for that ceremony.) But New Yorkers have already arrived. Forgoing the air-conditioned Time Warner Center a few yards away and unfazed by the lack of benches - they are due any day from Milwaukee - people hang out on the tiered, octagonal base of the Columbus Monument as if it were a front stoop, with a view of Broadway, Central Park West, Central Park South and Eighth Avenue.

"We've actually opened it up ahead of having benches," said David J. Burney, the commissioner of the city's Department of Design and Construction. "Every time I was there, there were people at the barriers to the entrances saying: 'I want to get in. I want to get through.' There are quite strong desire lines for pedestrian traffic."

Around 9 o'clock on Tuesday night, three dozen people were gathered around the monument, eating, drinking, smoking, reading the paper, playing games on a cellphone, nestling affectionately, staring into space. Others sprawled languorously on the granite edges of the fountain, where a terrier chased water spouts and a little boy dipped his hand into the spray. An ill-kempt man bathed his feet furtively - but, it seemed, gratefully.

"The good thing is being able to get to the center," said Ethel Sheffer of Community Board 7 on the Upper West Side, who was the chairwoman of a Columbus Circle task force that also included Boards 4 and 5. "We all wanted New Yorkers to be able to go there."

In the decades after the Columbus Monument was dedicated in 1892, the Grand Circle (as it was once called) was exactly that, a broad rotary for vehicles and streetcars with a circular public space at its center not much larger than the monument's base.

Things were never the same after 1929, when Police Commissioner Grover Whalen ordered an end to the circular traffic flow. By the 1960's, despite the installation of a fountain around the monument, the central area had become an unwelcoming and amorphous archipelago where motorcycles parked but pedestrians crossed at some peril.

COLUMBUS CIRCLE is like a black hole," Ms. Sheffer said in 1987. "Cars go in, cars go out, but you never know what's going on inside." That year, in a report to the planning department, the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill proposed a larger, more circular island.

As finally realized under a $20 million city contract, Columbus Circle was redesigned by the Olin Partnership, working with Vollmer Associates. The fountain is by Wet Design. Tully Construction Company is the contractor.

The new Columbus Circle gives New Yorkers the chance to understand a critical element of the future World Trade Center memorial: how the sound of water can muffle distracting urban noise.

Almost inaudible outside the four-foot-high landscaped mound surrounding the circle, the fountain dominates the experience within. "It gives you that sense of being in the heart of the city with a sense of insulation from traffic," said Joseph B. Rose, who worked on the project when he was Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's planning director.

Depending on the force and size of the fountain jets, which alternate, the sound can evoke a swollen river, a rushing brook, a driving rain or a gentle shower.

At the trade center memorial, cascading water walls will surround each of the voids that are to mark the absence of the twin towers. The Columbus Circle fountain begins to suggest how important sound will be. "I've always tried to impress upon people that it's a sensory experience," said the architect Michael Arad, who won the memorial design competition in 2004 with Peter Walker & Partners.

Anna Hayes Levin, the chairwoman of the Clinton-Hell's Kitchen land-use committee of Community Board 4, said she was discouraged by the extent of hard, unshaded space within Columbus Circle. But she praised the restoration of the circular traffic flow, the creation of clear pedestrian access and the limited disruption caused by construction.

And she said, "I'm glad they finally have the fountain on, because for the last couple of months, it has been a skateboard park."

Mr. Burney said that would soon end with the installation of small stainless-steel clips on the sloping surfaces around the fountain "that spoilsports like me put on skateboarding walls."

So what about all those children wading in the fountain? Are they allowed to do that? "No, they're not," Mr. Burney answered. "But it was so hot last week, one could hardly blame them. I felt like jumping in there myself."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

NYatKNIGHT
August 4th, 2005, 12:55 PM
The different phases the fountain goes through really keeps it interesting.

Johnnyboy
August 4th, 2005, 07:52 PM
i like to see any type of images of the old New York. Its very interesting. i like to compare then and now and see how far new york got.

macreator
August 4th, 2005, 10:53 PM
I took a walk over to the new fountain the other day and found it a pleasant surprise. It looks wonderful in itself and juxtaposed to the new Time Warner center is is impressive. I'm quite happy the construction is over. The circle now feels much more permanent.

pianoman11686
August 18th, 2005, 11:04 PM
Pictures taken 8/1/05:

http://images.snapfish.com/3447645523232%7Ffp64%3Dot%3E234%3A%3D937%3D37%3B%3 DXROQDF%3E2323%3A3%3B%3C%3A%3C3%3A4ot1lsi

http://images.snapfish.com/3447645523232%7Ffp63%3Dot%3E234%3A%3D937%3D37%3B%3 DXROQDF%3E2323%3A3%3B%3C%3B3856ot1lsi

http://images.snapfish.com/3447645523232%7Ffp47%3Dot%3E234%3A%3D937%3D37%3B%3 DXROQDF%3E2323%3A3%3B%3C%3A%3C395ot1lsi

http://images.snapfish.com/3447648%3B23232%7Ffp63%3Dot%3E2323%3D%3B33%3D695%3 D3232%3B335%3A4427nu0mrj

http://images.snapfish.com/3447648%3B23232%7Ffp47%3Dot%3E234%3A%3D937%3D37%3B %3DXROQDF%3E2323%3A3%3B%3C%3A%3C377ot1lsi

ablarc
August 18th, 2005, 11:05 PM
Lookin' good.

BrooklynRider
August 22nd, 2005, 11:35 AM
I visited the circle yesterday. The benches are installed, but protective covering is still in place. Much nicer than I anticipated. When the trees in the circle and in from of TWC fill in, it should be quite lovely.

BigMac
September 12th, 2005, 12:59 AM
September 9, 2005:

http://img391.imageshack.us/img391/5509/cclarge7ec.jpg

macreator
September 12th, 2005, 05:43 PM
Great lighting, awesome shot!

TonyO
September 13th, 2005, 12:03 PM
Voice
Neighborhoods

Close-Up on Columbus Circle

by Christine Lagorio
September 8th, 2005 6:25 PM

The night breeze from the Hudson River hit my face as I leaned over the railing of the 56th Street penthouse balcony, peering far down at the glistening waterway and, to the right, the rooftops of Central Park West. Inside the party, heat and beats radiated from the small crowd of women with intentionally big hair circulating among men emulating Will Smith. The cool air gave me a chance to reflect: "This is Hell's Kitchen?"
"No," a sleek-haired woman said. "This is Columbus Circle, honey."

For decades a tiny landmark of steel and stone buildings west of boiling-pot Hell's Kitchen, Columbus Circle has lately argued its case as a full-featured neighborhood. Credit for the categorical leap goes mostly to a host of top-shelf clubs, classy hotels, and pricey restaurants that have popped up in the past five years, all giving a consistent feel to the blocks at the southwest corner of Central Park. Thanks is also due to the Time Warner Center, a defining landmark with innumerable angles and windows (unlike the neighboring "lollipop" building) that serves as a destination amid midtown clutter.

Compared to the recent growth spurt, the history of Columbus Circle has been a story of unused potential. When the Ninth Avenue elevated train made the area—previously the site of John Somerindyck's farm—accessible in the 1880s, speculators and homebuilders could have swarmed. Instead, warehouses and tenements popped up, as did another train line, which ran directly through what is today the CBS broadcast center on West 57th and delivered supplies to a horse farm located at today's Trump International Tower and Hotel.

Just before the turn of the 20th century, an experiment in luxury housing, the Dakota, led the way to developing nearby Central Park West into a world-class address. But by the 1960s, the area's building boom had produced a gaudier community to the south that, with its buskers and playhouses, rivaled Times Square's vaudeville and orchestra scene. In recent decades, though, the Hell's Kitchen effect has shriveled, and the northern 50s and blocks west of Broadway have traded a bohemian, non-residential chaos for the cozy uniformity of ritzy neighbors to the north.

Walking along Columbus Circle west of Broadway today, you'll find the tony Hudson Hotel, several Starbucks, a Coach store, and a Mandarin Oriental. It's all very pristine. But moreover, it has the consistency of a neighborhood—with each spoke of street extending from Columbus Circle home to apartments as well as luxury hotels.

The area's newest development is the removal of concrete construction barriers that had masked the $20-million, redesigned pedestrian enclave surrounding the Christopher Columbus statue. The leveled granite loop of space bordered by fountains and barely-there yellow buckeye trees is neither a must-see destination nor particularly welcoming for tourists—much less workweek pedestrians. One of the redesign's harshest critics, Newsday, called it "a pathetic little disc of greenery and granite floating in a soup of car exhaust."

Still, viewing the circle from above, especially from the Time Warner Center at night, is a bit breathtaking—much like having your preconceptions shaken up at a predawn party you thought was in Hell's Kitchen.

Boundaries: If you can see Columbus Circle, at or near street level, you are probably in Columbus Circle. A swath south to 56th Street, west to Tenth Avenue, and north to 61st Street is frequently described as a footprint for the neighborhood.

Transport: Subway trains: 1; A; B; C; D; N; R; Q. Buses: 7; 10; 20; 31; 57

Main Drags: Broadway, Eighth Avenue, 58th Street and the spoked loop they form, known as Columbus Circle.

Prices to Buy: Co-op apartments between West 57th Street and Lincoln Center sold for (surprisingly) less than average for Manhattan in 2004: $883, 624. According to Douglas Elliman's market report, studios sold for an average of $290,000; one-bedrooms, $475,000; two-bedrooms, $1.3 million; three-bedrooms, $2,8 million; four-bedrooms, $9.6 million.

Prices to Rent: Studios, $1,300 to $2,100; one-bedroom, $1,400 to $2,800; two-bedroom, $2,200 to $4,500.

What to Check Out: Newspapers in places like Phoenix have featured the Time Warner Center, which rams up against Columbus Circle between 58th and 60th Streets, as an all-day vacation destination. Six Flags for the Burberry set? Don't scoff: For all its sleek design and attractive shops, the complex is worth a gander. The Whole Foods downstairs is one of the less expensive (and more reliable) places to grab lunch in the area. The "Inside CNN" tour on the center's third floor will please the cable news junkie. Likewise, asking a clerk to show you rooms at any of the areas high-rise hotels (Hudson at 356 W. 58th Street; Mandarin Oriental, check in on 35th floor of 80 Columbus Circle) provides a classy—and free—way to view the Central Park from above.

Hangouts, Parks: With several hospitals and schools within the few blocks west of Columbus Circle, a place to sit down and rest is never far. If gummy-worm shaped wood-slatted benches at the circle itself that force a lingerer to gaze at the conqueror-on-the-pedestal or face the outer traffic circle aren't appealing, cross the intersection to friendly Central Park. A green space at Ninth Ave and 57th Street is the site of weekday farmers markets in the summer and is even home to a small café kiosk.

Crime: Recorded violence, theft, and vandalism in the Midtown North precinct is still in decline in post-Giuliani years, but 2005 is poised to register an increase, with three murders this year compared to one last year and 259 burglaries compared to 2004's 222. The 20th precinct, which covers the West side north of 59th Street, sees considerably less crime regularly. In 2005, 151 robberies, 12 rapes, and 151 assaults have occurred.

Politicians: City Councilmember Gail Brewer, State Senator Thomas K. Duane, State Representatives Richard N. Gottfried and Scott Stringer, U.S. Representative. Jerrold Nadler. All are Democrats.

lofter1
September 13th, 2005, 03:11 PM
Close-Up on Columbus Circle
by Christine Lagorio
September 8th, 2005 6:25 PM

... "This is Hell's Kitchen?"
"No," a sleek-haired woman said. "This is Columbus Circle, honey."

For decades a tiny landmark of steel and stone buildings west of boiling-pot Hell's Kitchen, Columbus Circle has lately argued its case as a full-featured neighborhood ...
Since when is Columbus Circle located to the WEST of Hell's Kitchen?

elfgam
September 15th, 2005, 11:38 AM
I'm sorry but that pathetic little disc of a park is one of the most amazing urban spaces in the city and is a delight to go to, especially in the evenings... and a GREAT make out spot.

BigMac
September 15th, 2005, 12:22 PM
I agree...a rather underrated oasis.

Clarknt67
September 15th, 2005, 04:03 PM
I'm sorry but that pathetic little disc of a park is one of the most amazing urban spaces in the city and is a delight to go to, especially in the evenings... and a GREAT make out spot.

Yeah, Newsday's insane (maybe their suburban perspective can't grasp the beauty of an urban oasis). A friend and I stopped there the other night and hung there for an hour or so talking and it was very pleasant. The fountain is a little noisy, as is the inevitable traffic. But the view, of the park, of the circle, of the TW Center, of Amsterdam Ave. of Brdwy, was just gorgeous. It really did feel like an oasis.

TLOZ Link5
September 15th, 2005, 04:06 PM
What's it going to be like in winter, I wonder?

fioco
September 15th, 2005, 06:47 PM
In the winter, TLOZ? Probably cold and snowy. :D Come Decemeber, grab a hot cocoa and enjoy the people watching. I agree, this little parcel is an amazing place and quite a pleasant surprise.

NYatKNIGHT
September 16th, 2005, 11:48 AM
September 16, 2005


Taking a Chisel to 2 Columbus Circle, With No Regrets

By ROBIN FINN (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=ROBIN FINN&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=ROBIN FINN&inline=nyt-per)

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2005/09/15/nyregion/16lives184.jpg

HOLLY HOTCHNER bops into her subterranean office at the Museum of Arts and Design on West 53rd Street with one crimson-manicured hand at full extension and her startling nimbus of auburn hair rippling like a flag in a stiff wind. Her copious freckles, invigorated by a week of hard hiking in the Utah sunshine, resemble dappled body armor. Even her jewelry - a wire cuff, a hefty diamond engagement band and an oversized beaded floral necklace that rates jaw-dropping reactions on the street - packs a tacit punch.

Without being asked, she rips into an infomercial for "Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 2," the museum's "boundary-breaking" display of modern artifacts by Native American artists; it opens on Sept. 22 and is, she vows, one-of-a-kind. Political. A must-see.
She looks and sounds, in short, like a woman capable of mowing down any obstacle in her path, including the derelict nine-story white elephant at 2 Columbus Circle that the museum agreed to buy from the city for $17 million in 2002 and intends to use as its flagship, after a sophisticated $30 million face-lift that has provoked four lawsuits from preservationists. She is psyched at the prospect of reinventing the museum she runs: "It's sort of a real dream to be able to build a museum in New York City." A legacy for a would-be sculptor who never saw herself in "a desk job."

She promises that the sculptural elements of 2 Columbus Circle, which she describes as "a designated mausoleum" in its current incarnation, will be retained, but stands by the Landmarks Preservation Commission's decision not to award the building landmark status: "It's not like we're going in there at midnight with a wrecking ball. This building has more than had its day in court."

Buoyed by a Sept. 1 court ruling in favor of the museum, Ms. Hotchner, its director since 1996, when it was fumbling along in obscurity and insolvency as the American Craft Museum, hopes to start ripping into concrete next month. Appeals? Not a deterrent. The two-year litigation delay has already cost the museum $5 million in overruns, equal to its yearly operating budget.

Clarification: She doesn't actually want to gut "the lollipop" building, the oddball marble-clad structure Edward Durell Stone designed in the kitschy 60's to house the modern art collection of Huntington Hartford. Rather, she wants to liberate it from hibernation and, courtesy of an external infusion of light-hued terra cotta and glassy fenestration, throw it a lifeline.

"I've never heard of anyone who likes the building aesthetically," she says, seated at a black glass desk trimmed in masculine black leather (don't ask; it's a freebie hand-me-down). Sure, the desk is ugly, she adds, but at least it functions. Unlike 2 Columbus Circle, which is arguably ugly, but doesn't. "The word 'ugly' comes up again and again," she complains. "I think nearly everyone would agree 2 Columbus Circle is a tremendous eyesore; some of us call it the world's greatest urinal at this point."

Ms. Hotchner, who turned 54 on Sept. 11, is not intimidated by Landmark West, the Upper West Side preservation group, or the World Monuments Fund, which placed 2 Columbus Circle on its list of 100 endangered landmarks this summer. Quite the opposite. Back when she, in her own conservationist heyday (she's still on the board of the New York Landmarks Conservancy), was hired by the New-York Historical Society to preserve its museum collection, she was told that she ought to rethink her "very intimidating" hairdo. Opt for a librarian-ish bun. She balked. By 1988, she was museum director.

So maybe it's O.K., even in rarefied museum circles, to be a little intimidating?

"It's worked for me," says Ms. Hotchner, whose father, A. E. Hotchner, was Hemingway's biographer. She recalls Papa Hemingway as a bear of a guy, and not a teddy bear. "To a little girl of 4, he was frightening."

MS. HOTCHNER grew up in Manhattan, lived mostly at the Beresford, and attended the Dalton School. Her parents separated when she was young, and at 15, she lost her mother, a journalist for Look magazine and a publicist for David O. Selznick, to cancer. She attended Trinity College, and after graduating snagged a coveted spot at the Museum of Modern Art as a cataloger, for $6,500 a year. Her sculpture career went nowhere - "I didn't want to be a Sunday artist" - but she became focused on art conservation and pursued a master's in fine arts and a certificate of conservation at New York University.

Jobs at the Met and the Tate segued into what remains a favorite project, the restoration of a John La Farge mural at the Church of the Ascension. Ms. Hotchner, who lives on the Upper East Side with her husband, Franklin Silverstone, a curator and software entrepreneur, left the historical society in a state of burnout and started an art consulting business when a headhunter recruited her for her present job.

"On my first day, I walked in and the first thing I saw was a mouse, the second thing was an eviction notice on my desk, and the third was that the bookkeeper came in and said, 'We can't make the payroll this week,' " she recalls. "It really was like a Monty Python kind of thing." Ms. Hotchner suggested that perhaps the wisest business course for the craft museum would be to go out of business. Or change drastically. The board chose the second option. She dug in. Still is.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

BrooklynRider
September 16th, 2005, 02:41 PM
Wow! Bi-otch!

lofter1
September 17th, 2005, 10:53 PM
I just came across these images of prior proposals for Columbus Circle / TWC site ( http://www.thecityreview.com/dumpty.htm ) :


Murphy/Jahn for Tishman Speyer Properties:

http://www.thecityreview.com/jahn.gif


Robert A. M. Stern and Costas Kondylis for
the Trump Organization and Colony Capital
(the top looks very similar to what Stern has
come up with for the Mayflower site):

http://www.thecityreview.com/angle.gif


Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Elkus/Manfredi for
the Related Companies and Himmel & Company:

http://www.thecityreview.com/childs.gif

krulltime
September 18th, 2005, 02:29 AM
Nice work lofter1!

Hmmm... I still like the Time Warner that we have.

But from those 3... I think the last one I like the best.

hella good
September 18th, 2005, 03:45 AM
i love the first one!
although i wouldnt trade the ones we have.

lofter1
September 19th, 2005, 12:43 AM
Here's some info on the OLD Columbus Circle:

International Theatre

Also known as the Majestic, Park, Minsky's Park Music Hall, Cosmopolitan, Theatre of Youth

New York, NY
5 Columbus Circle
New York, NY, United States

http://cinematreasures.org/theater/2936/

http://cinematreasures.org/images/photos/2936.jpg
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Vintage photograph of the
Majestic Theatre on Columbus Circle


Status:Closed/Demolished (http://cinematreasures.org/status/9/)
Screens:Single Screen (http://cinematreasures.org/screens/1/)
Style:Neo-Classical (http://cinematreasures.org/style/18/)
Function:Unknown (http://cinematreasures.org/function/)
Seats:1584 (http://cinematreasures.org/seats/2/)
Chain:Unknown (http://cinematreasures.org/chain/)
Architect:John H. Duncan (http://cinematreasures.org/architect/207/), Joseph Urban (http://cinematreasures.org/architect/170/)
Firm:Unknown (http://cinematreasures.org/firm/)



Around the turn of the century, many believed that the new center of New York's entertainment district would be moving to Columbus Circle, and E.D. Stair and A.L. Wilbur backed up the speculation by erecting a grandiose new theater at the western end of the oval-shaped plaza, Grand Circle, in 1903.

Designed by John H. Duncan, the 1584-seat Majestic Theatre had entrances on both 58th and 59th Streets, as well as its main entrance on Columbus Circle. Featuring a large proscenium arch, two balconies, a double staircase in the lobby and two sets of box seats, the Majestic truly lived up to its name, and was designed to be every bit as impressive and ornate as the finest European opera house.

The lobby and hallway walls were covered in marble wainscoting, while gilded columns lined the upper level of the lobby and also pairs of massive white columns framed the side boxes in the auditorium, capped by statues of trumpeting cherubs and colossal golden eagles.

The stage, at 80 feet wide and 38 feet deep could accommodate the most elaborate of shows, and did just that when it opened in the fall of 1903 with the first musical stage version of "The Wizard of Oz", which was a tremendous hit. Its then-jaw dropping special effects, such as an on-stage tornado were particularly crowd-pleasing. It would run for over ten months.

In 1911, the Majestic was renamed the Park, which continued to feature legitimate theater, but also Sunday afternoon movie screenings. As the Park Theatre, this is where "Pygmallian" had its debut.

However, in 1922, burlesque came to the Park, and it was again renamed, as Minksy's Park Music Hall. A year later, William Randolph Hearst acquired the theater, and made it the main venue for his own Cosmopolitan Pictures film company. It was given yet another new name, the Cosmopolitan.

Florenz Ziegfeld took over the Cosmopolitan in 1925, and his house architect, Joseph Urban, updated the interior. For nine months, it returned to legitimate theater, but in 1926, Ziegfeld gave it up to focus on the construction of his self-named theater. Under new management, however, the Cosmopolitan continued to stage legitimate fare until the Depression forced its closing in 1929.

It reopened in 1931, now presenting a mixed bill of vaudeville acts and motion pictures. From 1934-35, it was once more legit, as the Theatre of Young America, but late in 1935, movies and the old name, the Park, returned again.

In 1944, now renamed the International, the theater hosted the Ballet International for several weeks, then a brief run of legitimate theater, the next year. In December 1945, it was a movie house once more, as the Columbus Square, but was the International by the following August, hosting the occasional live performance but mainly sitting vacant until acquired by the NBC network in early 1949, as a television studio premiering the Admiral Broadway Review on January 28, 1949. The stars were Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. The television program was "Your Show of Shows."

NBC left the International in 1954, and not long afterwards, the former theater, along with most of its neighbors on Columbus Circle, was razed to make way for the New York Convention Center.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

TLOZ Link5
September 19th, 2005, 03:10 PM
Are there ANY great movie palaces left in New York?

::grumbles unintelligibly about Robert Moses for the next ten minutes::

BrooklynRider
September 19th, 2005, 06:50 PM
Well, we have the Ziegfield.

BigMac
September 21st, 2005, 02:05 PM
NYC.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PR- 357-05
September 19, 2005

MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES THE REOPENING OF COLUMBUS CIRCLE

http://www.gothamist.com/attachments/Jen%20Chung/2005_09_ccircle.jpg
(Gothamist)

Video (http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/html/2005b/media/pc091905-columbuscircle.asx) (56k)
Video (http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/html/2005b/media/pc091905-columbuscircle300k.asx) (300k)

Mayor Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner David J. Burney, Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Iris Weinshall and Department of City Planning Director Amanda M. Burden to announce the completion of Columbus Circle in midtown Manhattan. The $23 million project included a new streetscape design, granite curbs and sidewalks, distinctive wooden benches, a breathtaking central fountain, and new landscaping as well as the restoration of underground and above ground utilities, water mains, and the roadway.

“Columbus Circle has always been one of New York City’s most beloved historic spaces, and it is now even more pedestrian-friendly,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “With lush plantings and a beautiful water fountain that screens the area from the passing traffic, one can sit at the heart of one of the busiest intersections in our City and still find the tranquility to relax and read a good book. The multi-agency effort not only transformed the circle into a beautiful public space for New Yorkers and visitors, it also greatly improved traffic conditions making the area safer for pedestrians.”

“For much of its history Columbus Circle was neither a circle nor a good public space,” said Commissioner Benepe. “A multi-agency effort has created one of New York’s great new public plazas, with a glorious new fountain, lush plantings, and a place of respite for residents, workers, and visitors.”

“Columbus Circle is one of New York’s great public spaces and DDC is proud to have managed this major reconstruction project,” said Commissioner Burney. “The new central pedestrian and seating area, screened from traffic by trees and fountains, will provide a tranquil plaza that all can enjoy.”

The design was based on an interim space created in 1999 that combined segmented traffic islands, which at that time, made up Columbus Circle. Construction began in July 2003 and was a multi-agency effort. DDC oversaw the final design by Vollmer Consultants and construction by general contractor Tully Construction Company. The Department of City Planning worked closely with Olin Partnership to create the project’s overall plan and landscape/urban design features. The $23 million reconstruction was funded by $21.3 million from the City, with $1.2 million from the Transit Authority and $500,000 for the fountain equipment from Related Companies, L.P. and Apollo Real Estate. Prior to construction, the design was partially supported by $500,000 from the Related Companies and Apollo Real Estate.

The circle is laid out in a series of concentric rings consisting of a broad, gently raised area of plantings and a ring of fountains in its interior that buffer the traffic noise and provide a serene, pedestrian plaza around the Christopher Columbus Statue. The pedestrian plaza is set inside of the fountain, and includes three new benches made of curved wood, large enough to allow individuals and groups to sit comfortably back to back, facing either the fountain or the monument. The new fountain includes 99 fountain heads and nearly 300 fountain lights, and was designed by WETdesign, who also designed the fountains at the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Rockefeller Center Prometheus Fountain.

The Department of Parks & Recreation was responsible for the center public space and provided the scope and funding for the fountain, benches, landscaping and upcoming renovation of Columbus Statue. DOT provided scope and funding for the improved traffic and pedestrian flow and surrounding roadwork. The DEP provided funding for water main and sewer improvements for the surrounding area. The Central Park Conservancy provided assistance to DDC throughout the project.

“Columbus Circle is now a destination rather than just an intersection,” said Commissioner Weinshall. “The redesign allows for a more orderly movement of traffic and most importantly creates a safer route for pedestrians to cross.”

“DEP’s role was mostly on belowground infrastructure, but we’re pleased to be part of this marvelous civic effort that revamped Columbus Circle,” said Commissioner Lloyd. “Over $2 million of new water mains likely won’t be noticed by the millions of people who pass through each year, but they will play an important role for many decades to come – particularly, getting water to the new central fountain.”

“The renewed Columbus Circle has become a magical and compelling open space marking the location of one of the most important crossroads of the City,” said City Planning Director Amanda M. Burden. “The graceful fountains, generous seating, plantings and lighting have transformed a neglected traffic island into a vibrant destination for all New Yorkers. We were pleased and proud to work with Laurie Olin on the design of this splendid new public space.”

Copyright 2005 The City of New York

krulltime
September 21st, 2005, 09:58 PM
http://www.gothamist.com/attachments/Jen%20Chung/2005_09_ccircle.jpg

Wow this night light thing is great!

I just hope that Time Warner Towers will light them self up aswell.

NewYorkYankee
September 25th, 2005, 07:18 PM
When are the towers going to be lit again?

BigMac
September 28th, 2005, 06:59 PM
September 9, 2005:

http://i.pbase.com/v3/05/432305/1/49310850.SunlightonColumbusCircle.JPG

ablarc
October 15th, 2005, 08:59 PM
Beautiful picture, BigMac. I love how you captured the way Time Warner and 2 Columbus Circle cooperate to form the Circle. At one time 2 Columbus Circle was the only building hereabouts that even knew it was on a circle. Now it will be reclothed in boring duds that will more closely resemble Time Warner. Much will be lost.

vc10
October 16th, 2005, 12:24 PM
At this point I don't much care what they do with 2 Columbus Circle. It's such an eyesore. Blow it up for all I care.


Beautiful picture, BigMac. I love how you captured the way Time Warner and 2 Columbus Circle cooperate to form the Circle. At one time 2 Columbus Circle was the only building hereabouts that even knew it was on a circle. Now it will be reclothed in boring duds that will more closely resemble Time Warner. Much will be lost.

ablarc
October 16th, 2005, 02:32 PM
At this point I don't much care what they do with 2 Columbus Circle. It's such an eyesore. Blow it up for all I care.
That, I'm sure you'll be surprised to hear, is what most folks said about Penn Station.

TLOZ Link5
October 16th, 2005, 03:18 PM
That, I'm sure you'll be surprised to hear, is what most folks said about Penn Station.

Regardless of your opinion on the matter of 2 Columbus Circle, to compare its architectural importance to that of Penn Station is likely pushing it a bit.

ablarc
October 16th, 2005, 03:45 PM
Regardless of your opinion on the matter of 2 Columbus Circle, to compare its architectural importance to that of Penn Station is likely pushing it a bit.
That's right, it is; and it's also not the point I'm trying to make.

The point I'm trying to make is that folks' indifference to the loss of a building can be a fleeting thing, and should give us pause when a significant minority of people feel a building should be saved.

Otherwise, there are regrets later.

The Savoy-Plaza was also not as architecturally significant as Penn Station, yet its passing is still often regretted forty years on.

Fabrizio
October 16th, 2005, 04:10 PM
I´d hate to see 2 Columbus changed into the banal remake that has been proposed ....but I´m much more upset about the loss of a side-street brownstone or a building like the Studebaker. 2 Columbus is there on it´s own little island affecting none of us. It´s not knit into the street fabric. My gosh, they tear down the Helen Hayes and the Morrosco... buildings that create street ambience... the NY experience...replace them with a Chinese wall and everyone´s quiet. 2 Columbus is an easy cause that dirtys no one. The whole argument is a bore.

ablarc
October 16th, 2005, 04:26 PM
^ I see your point about the loss of less unsung brownstones and other relatively anonymous contributors to the ambiance, but don't diss 2 Columbus Circle because it's prominent.

And prominent it is; despite its lilliputian size, you can spot it from about a mile up Central Park West and from some distance up Broadway. And as to whether it's knit into the street fabric, consider:

I could easily write a paragraph or two about how it actually taught a generation of [post]-modern architects how to knit urban buildings into the fabric at a time when nobody --absolutely nobody-- was doing it. Look at its contemporaries --the tombstones on Sixth Avenue-- for examples of buildings not knit. 2 Columbus Circle holds whatever street line it's dealt on all four sides; it's free-standing because it fills its entire lot, but it's a thoroughly urban building --the first one in decades when it was built; that was a time when architectural theory taught that it was imperative to avoid knitting, as Lever House, Seagram, CBS and Stone's own GM Building demonstrate. You could easily say that Stone taught David Childs what to do at Time Warner by providing good example. Remember how the Coliseum thought it was in outer space? That's not being knit.

macreator
October 16th, 2005, 08:15 PM
I would be more interested in saving 2 Columbus Circle if it was still serving a use.

The building has been abandoned for years now and the museum won't take it unless they can renovate it. And if the museum won't take it in its current form, who will?

Frankly, if a building has outlived its usefulness, then why shouldn't it be demolished and turned into something new.

Buildings are meant to be productive and once they no longer are, then our capitalist society deserves to see that building turned into something that once again contributes to the City.

Am I the only one who is fed up with urban blight on one of our revived City jewels, Columbus Circle?

The idea of a museum having a presence and completing the Circle's new renaissance is a very good one in my opinion.

BigMac
October 18th, 2005, 08:51 PM
From Eye Dream Awake (http://www.eyedreamawake.com):

http://www.eyedreamawake.com/images/DSCN3198_1024x768.jpg

BrooklynRider
October 19th, 2005, 12:27 AM
Wow! That's like the money shot in a gay porn movie!

ZippyTheChimp
October 19th, 2005, 02:28 AM
Columbus Circle at night.

http://img131.imageshack.us/img131/4673/colcirclenight017bf.th.jpg (http://img131.imageshack.us/my.php?image=colcirclenight017bf.jpg) http://img131.imageshack.us/img131/3794/colcirclenight028um.th.jpg (http://img131.imageshack.us/my.php?image=colcirclenight028um.jpg) http://img131.imageshack.us/img131/8791/colcirclenight034ec.th.jpg (http://img131.imageshack.us/my.php?image=colcirclenight034ec.jpg) http://img131.imageshack.us/img131/1389/colcirclenight043nf.th.jpg (http://img131.imageshack.us/my.php?image=colcirclenight043nf.jpg) http://img131.imageshack.us/img131/2271/colcirclenight058jp.th.jpg (http://img131.imageshack.us/my.php?image=colcirclenight058jp.jpg)

http://img131.imageshack.us/img131/4351/colcirclenight061bj.th.jpg (http://img131.imageshack.us/my.php?image=colcirclenight061bj.jpg) http://img131.imageshack.us/img131/889/colcirclenight076vv.th.jpg (http://img131.imageshack.us/my.php?image=colcirclenight076vv.jpg) http://img131.imageshack.us/img131/379/colcirclenight089hx.th.jpg (http://img131.imageshack.us/my.php?image=colcirclenight089hx.jpg) http://img131.imageshack.us/img131/6182/colcirclenight099nz.th.jpg (http://img131.imageshack.us/my.php?image=colcirclenight099nz.jpg) http://img131.imageshack.us/img131/6413/colcirclenight101sw.th.jpg (http://img131.imageshack.us/my.php?image=colcirclenight101sw.jpg)

ZippyTheChimp
October 19th, 2005, 02:30 AM
A few more

http://img131.imageshack.us/img131/4448/colcirclenight112ib.th.jpg (http://img131.imageshack.us/my.php?image=colcirclenight112ib.jpg) http://img131.imageshack.us/img131/2401/colcirclenight125ru.th.jpg (http://img131.imageshack.us/my.php?image=colcirclenight125ru.jpg) http://img131.imageshack.us/img131/4749/colcirclenight134fc.th.jpg (http://img131.imageshack.us/my.php?image=colcirclenight134fc.jpg)

Comelade
October 19th, 2005, 04:34 AM
thank you for the photographs. really superb, highly May so that I see Ca in truth.

michelle1
October 19th, 2005, 07:53 AM
Top snaps Zippy

yyy
October 19th, 2005, 08:57 AM
Amazing photos - thanks Zippy :) New York looks great at night :cool:

vc10
October 21st, 2005, 03:45 PM
But the indifference to this building doesn't seem fleeting. It seems constant.

And Penn Station was a great public space with a function. This is just a rich man's folly, for which no one was able to find a use once the rich man was done funding the folly.


That's right, it is; and it's also not the point I'm trying to make.

The point I'm trying to make is that folks' indifference to the loss of a building can be a fleeting thing, and should give us pause when a significant minority of people feel a building should be saved.

Otherwise, there are regrets later.

The Savoy-Plaza was also not as architecturally significant as Penn Station, yet its passing is still often regretted forty years on.

ablarc
October 21st, 2005, 03:52 PM
The Dahesh Museum was interested in this building, and actually tried to acquire it, but it was passed over for the present museum. The Dahesh would have made a great fit, and they wouldn't have changed the building's appearance.

NYC123
October 25th, 2005, 06:38 PM
Zippy, what type of camera did you take those pictures with? They look great.

michelle1
October 25th, 2005, 07:38 PM
The Dahesh Museum was interested in this building, and actually tried to acquire it, but it was passed over for the present museum. The Dahesh would have made a great fit, and they wouldn't have changed the building's appearance.It's a shame the Dahesh Museum lost a bid to redevelop property at 2 CC.

ZippyTheChimp
October 25th, 2005, 09:11 PM
Zippy, what type of camera did you take those pictures with? They look great.
Nikon D70

ZippyTheChimp
October 25th, 2005, 09:28 PM
I still walk around with the Olympus. It just doesn't take good night photos.

BigMac
January 11th, 2006, 04:52 PM
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/55/ColumbusCirclefromTimeWarnerCenterNYC20050807.jpg/800px-ColumbusCirclefromTimeWarnerCenterNYC20050807.jpg
(Wikipedia)

lofter1
January 11th, 2006, 05:52 PM
nice...

When you remember back to what a mess Columbus Circle was few years ago it almost seems miraculous that we ended up with something as terrific as this ...

vc10
January 11th, 2006, 06:46 PM
The circle itself is a little bit of metropolitan Europe lifted into Manhattan. I like it, though one is probably enough.


nice...

When you remember back to what a mess Columbus Circle was few years ago it almost seems miraculous that we ended up with something as terrific as this ...

MidtownGuy
May 6th, 2006, 08:11 PM
Today was the perfect Spring today in NYC, so a friend and I took a walk to the West side for lunch.
Well, this was the first time that I had entered the completed new central area of Columbus Circle. WOW! It looks good from the side, but when you actually enter it, there is such wonderful proportion to everything. The relationship between benches, fountains, monument and open area just felt so right.
Most impressive of all, this was a space truly being used by so many people; when one is sitting inside, there's a stunning vista in every direction. I couldn't help but think of how Kunstler(whose book I am currently reading thanks to Fabrizio's suggestion) would approve- part of an asphalt no-place has been reclaimed from the automobile so that real life could happen there.

http://static.flickr.com/52/141601305_df1c415425_b.jpg

http://static.flickr.com/56/141596893_d29371e138_b.jpg

http://static.flickr.com/25/141596896_ac9588861d_b.jpg

http://static.flickr.com/49/141596897_25bac36470_b.jpg

czsz
May 6th, 2006, 08:34 PM
Kunstler has become a fanatic who thinks New York is going to hell because its skyscraper lifestyle is dependent on the energy guaranteed by the oil economy. I also don't think he would approve of the circle's high-tech gimmickry; it's all-and-all too little neotraditional for him.

MidtownGuy
May 6th, 2006, 08:43 PM
I've read 2 chapters in the book, and haven't read those sentiments yet, but I agree with what he says about how to mess up a town. I disagree with your assessment of how he'd view this little space for people to congregate- "gimmickry", as you call it, aside, there is no doubt that a someplace has been created out of a no-place.
Oil is a different discussion altogether.

czsz
May 6th, 2006, 10:23 PM
He wrote that book years ago. His views have evolved considerably since then. He's become entirely obsessed with the "end of cheap oil".

MidtownGuy
May 6th, 2006, 11:43 PM
Well, I can think of less worthy things to obsess over.
Anyway, What's your opinion of the circle?

ablarc
May 7th, 2006, 12:01 AM
An outdoor room.


2 Columbus Circle was the first to recognize its potential to be that. Time Warner magnifies it. Thank God, they're not changing 2 Columbus Circle's massing. I'll miss its facade treatment, though; it and TWC were briefly like Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash collaborating on a song: two different styles, same tune.

.

lofter1
May 7th, 2006, 12:24 AM
Just so we all don't forget how far CC has come in the past few years (not that it's perfect, but it's sure darned nice ) ...

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/colcir/80a.jpg
How CC looked up to the '90s ^

ablarc
May 7th, 2006, 12:26 AM
The circle itself is a little bit of metropolitan Europe lifted into Manhattan. I like it, though one is probably enough.
There's a second one at the Park's southeast corner.

And yet another at 42nd Street and 6th Avenue.

And how about Verdi Square?

BPC
May 7th, 2006, 01:46 AM
Kunstler has become a fanatic who thinks New York is going to hell because its skyscraper lifestyle is dependent on the energy guaranteed by the oil economy. I also don't think he would approve of the circle's high-tech gimmickry; it's all-and-all too little neotraditional for him.

BTW, I haven't read the book, but high-rise urban city living is by far the most energy-efficient, environmentally sensitive lifestyle imaginable. The worst, by cnotrast, is rural living, what with all the space required of it and all the engery required to move persons and goods around. Just imagine how much wilderness would have to be torn up, and how much oil would have to be wasted, if NYC's eight million residents all lived out on farms in the country.

antinimby
May 7th, 2006, 02:13 AM
There's a second one at the Park's southeast corner.
And yet another at 42nd Street and 6th Avenue.And how about Verdi Square?I don't remember any traffic circles at these locations.

I prefer that they be more like the ones in Europe, where they don't have traffic lights.

Fabrizio
May 7th, 2006, 06:25 AM
I haven´t been to the new Columbus Circle yet but will see it in August. I can only judge it from photos but...just don´t like the architecture of it.....what style are those benches? Looks to cutsy to me....and will date badly.

Cz: "Kunstler has become a fanatic who thinks New York is going to hell because its skyscraper lifestyle is dependent on the energy guaranteed by the oil economy. I also don't think he would approve of the circle's high-tech gimmickry; it's all-and-all too little neotraditional for him."

^LOL. This is just such BS. Kunstler´s style is hyperbole but you are mis-interpreting what the guy is saying and taking it out of context. He feels that AMERICAS lifestyle is going to hell because it is "dependent on the energy guaranteed by the oil economy".

He´s hardly alone.

-----------------------

http://peakoil.blogspot.com/2006/04/long-emergency-james-howard-kunstler.html

ablarc
May 7th, 2006, 09:51 AM
I don't remember any traffic circles at these locations.
I was referring to "Metropolitan Europe", not traffic circles. Grand Army Plaza, Bryant Park and Verdi Square all remind folks of Europe. None are traffic circles; Columbus Circle is a traffic circle, as you say, but that's not what makes it European imo.

lofter1
May 7th, 2006, 11:31 AM
...what style are those benches? Looks to cutsy to me....and will date badly.

the benches are really kind of cool -- designed with rounded and sloped edges methinks to deter skateboarders. really quite comfy.

The entire space of the circle is much more encompassing in person than it might seem in photos.

Curious to hear what you think.

hella good
May 7th, 2006, 01:23 PM
the new circle looks great! really relaxing and the fountains are great!

the old road setup in that photo looked absolutley hurrendous!

Fabrizio
May 7th, 2006, 02:38 PM
I would like to have seen the architectural style of the new developement in the Circle to work better with the Merchant´s Gate at the entrance to Central Park and with the statue of Columbus...tying the whole thing together. The benches look suburban style to me...unsophisticated...even the color seems wrong. They seem to come out of nowhere.

I really like what I see, for instance, at the Trump (ex GM) building on 5th. The new plaza is very formal but modern, and works beautifully with the classic buildings to the right and left, as well as the modern Trump building behind it ...and Grand Army Plaza in front of it. It looks like it was based on principles of good design....rather than playing so directly to the audience.

Of course I´m basing these observations on photos....I´m looking forward to visiting soon.

---------------

MidtownGuy
May 7th, 2006, 03:04 PM
I'll get some closer pics of the benches next time I pass through- perhaps something isn't translating in the photos because I agree with lofter that they're kind of cool. The rounded form definitely felt very welcoming and comfortable to sit on. The wood is really nice too, though I hope it isn't something that was ripped out of a rainforest.

Fabrizio
May 7th, 2006, 03:19 PM
I have no doubt that they´re welcoming and comfortable....and coool.

The marble seating slabs at the Apple Store or the park in front of the Lincoln Center Library don´t look at all welcoming and comfortable.... they look chic and timeless.... I guess that´s what I´m getting at.

ablarc
May 7th, 2006, 04:35 PM
^ Both approaches are good, but for different reasons.

czsz
May 7th, 2006, 05:12 PM
No, Fab, you haven't been paying attention. Here's Kunstler on a new skyscraper in Louisville:


[it] violates everything that we can reasonably expect about the energy-scarce future -- most particularly the poor prospects for running skyscrapers and megastructures.

and on the towers of Park Avenue:


These buildings, and the voids of empty space they entailed, were suited to exactly the culture of myrmidons we became in the late 20th century, which is to say of enterprises such as the New York Times.

I could find more, but his website is painfully designed and finding anything more on it is a chore. I hope you get the point though.

lofter1
May 7th, 2006, 08:20 PM
once again wirednewyork sends me searching ...

myrmidon \ MUR-muh-don; -duhn \, noun:

1. (Capitalized) A member of a warlike Thessalian people who followed Achilles on the expedition against Troy.

2. A loyal follower, especially one who executes orders without question, protest, or pity.

MidtownGuy
May 13th, 2006, 04:40 PM
today, on the way home from our wonderful planting in JB's honor, I stopped in TWC and took this pic. I love this circle so much now, I just can't stop taking pictures of it.

http://static.flickr.com/47/145713413_607ff120d0_b.jpg

Zerlina
May 13th, 2006, 04:47 PM
MidtownGuy, please...
DON'T STOP taking pictures of it! The last time I saw the Columbus Circle there were "works in progress"... and now... it's wonderful!!! Oh... why can't I be there, now???:(

MidtownGuy
May 13th, 2006, 06:56 PM
hi Zerlina, I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures. I am going to make a thread with some more Spring time pictures I took recently.

ArchiveNYC
May 13th, 2006, 08:17 PM
http://f5.putfile.com/5/13219164880.jpg

http://f5.putfile.com/5/13219185055.jpg

lofter1
May 13th, 2006, 11:20 PM
Through a Glass Brightly

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/05/14/nyregion/14cant.xlarge1.jpg
Columbia Pictures/Brian Gari Archives
In a 1954 Judy Holliday film, "It Should Happen to You!," with Peter Lawford,
cameo appearances for long-gone Columbus Circle landmarks.

By JOHN FREEMAN GILL (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/john_freeman_gill/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/14/nyregion/14cant.html?_r=1&oref=slogin)
Sunday May 14, 2006

EDDIE CANTOR, one of the most popular singer-comedians of the first half of the 20th century, began his career as a Lower East Side orphan. By 1933, he was earning enough money as a movie and radio star to move his young family to a penthouse triplex in one of the Upper West Side's signature buildings: the twin-towered San Remo Apartments on Central Park West and 74th Street.

Not long after the move, his adventurous 7-year-old daughter, Janet, clambered up the outside of the colonnaded south tower, where she hung with one hand from a metal rung 27 stories above Central Park West until her terrified nanny coaxed her down.

About 17 years later, Janet was married and living in an apartment just around the corner, where she conceived a son named Brian Gari.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/05/14/nyregion/14cant.1904.jpg
Brian Gari, Eddie Cantor's grandson,
retrieving memories after the
Loew's 83rd Street theater was
demolished in the mid-1980's.

Mr. Gari, now a lanky 54-year-old with a salt-and-pepper beard, today has an overview of the ever-evolving Upper West Side that is, in its way, nearly as commanding as was his mother's perspective from atop that tower. A singer-songwriter by profession, Mr. Gari has made a passionate lifelong hobby of documenting the changing streetscape of the Upper West Side, where he has lived all but a few months of his life. His primary method has been to collect every moving image of the neighborhood he could get his hands on, all the way back to a 1910 Edison Company film of Columbus Circle, along with scores of still photographs and salvaged scraps of demolished theaters.



http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/05/14/nyregion/14cant.large3.jpghttp://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gifhttp://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif
Kino International/Brian Gari Archives
An images from a 1910 Edison Company film of Columbus Circle, one of Mr. Gari's rare finds.

Mr. Gari's fascination with the neighborhood's relentless evolution early. In 1964, at age 12, he was so struck by the wholesale demolitions taking place in the name of urban renewal that he traveled up and down Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues with an eight-millimeter camera, shooting a shaky but evocative 10-minute film he called "City Slickin'."

Twenty years later, as beloved theaters like the Loew's 83rd Street Quad were facing the wrecking ball, he grabbed a Betamovie camcorder and made another jostling photographic journey, this time down Broadway from West 91st Street past Columbus Circle. And ever since, each time he caught a film or video glimpse of the neighborhood, whether in a documentary of Rudolph Valentino's funeral at the Frank E. Campbell funeral home on Broadway in 1926 or a 1949 television episode of "Candid Camera" shot on West 103rd Street, he has saved them and ultimately digitized them for posterity.


The Secrets of 'Naked City'

"I hardly pay attention to the stories," Mr. Gari said one recent afternoon as he fast-forwarded through a 1963 television episode of the police drama "Naked City" that was playing on a hulking 50-inch television screen in his bedroom. "I'm looking for the Upper West Side."

He was sitting barefoot on a queen-size bed, surrounded by DVD's, film encyclopedias and photographs of his grandfather, in a rent-controlled apartment on West End Avenue near 92nd Street that has been his home since he moved there as a 12-year-old in 1964.

"This is Riverside Drive and the 70's," he said, explaining that "Naked City" was often shot around there because its production supervisor, Hal Schaffel, the father of a classmate of Mr. Gari's, lived on West End Avenue.

Noirish black-and-white images of a traffic accident and a murder whizzed past on the screen until Mr. Gari spotted the character Detective Adam Flint and his girlfriend coming out of a luncheonette called Steinberg's Dairy Restaurant, whose facade bore the number 2270. No street signs were visible.

"You see where this is?" Mr. Gari asked excitedly. "You see the reflection in the window? It's the Town Shop." He was referring to a celebrated lingerie store that opened in 1936 on the west side of Broadway near 82nd Street, and in 2002 moved three doors north on the same block.




http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/05/14/nyregion/14cant.large2.jpghttp://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gifhttp://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif
Brian Gari Archives, 1964
In a 1963 episode of "Naked City," with Paul Burke as Detective Adam Flint and Nancy Malone
as his girlfriend, Libby, a sign for the Town Shop is visible in reverse image.

Steinberg's was on the east side of Broadway, just across the street. On Mr. Gari's television screen the reflection in the restaurant's plate-glass window showed not only the reverse-image Art Deco sign of the Town Shop but also the shadowy reversed letters of Endicott Meats, which vanished from the street in 1989.

Twiddling his remote control, Mr. Gari froze the frame on fleeting images that revealed other 1963 shops on the east side of Broadway between 81st and 82nd Streets. North of Steinberg's stood Yee's Hand Laundry, a stationery shop, an unidentified store with prices in the window and a pizza place.


These last two would be occupied from the mid-1970's to the early 1990's by Marvin Gardens, a popular restaurant. And today all these storefronts, including the Steinberg's site, are occupied by Laytner's Linen and Home.

"If you want to go back in time," Mr. Gari declared giddily, "this is the episode to do it with."

On the television screen, a dough-faced cabbie was trying to lure Detective Flint into a fistfight, but Mr. Gari didn't care about that. What really interested him was the mysterious shop on the northeast corner of West 82nd Street (the site today of a Liberty Travel agency) on whose sign he could only make out the letters "West E."

"West End?" he asked aloud. "A coffee shop, maybe?"

Unsatisfied, Mr. Gari froze the detective show and bounded out of the room, returning moments later with a crumbling 1966 phone book (he has 40 years' worth of old directories), which he inspected with the intensity of a monk poring over a rare religious manuscript.

"Aha!" he finally announced. "West End Fabrics." Mystery solved.

Peeling Away the Present

To spend hours watching Mr. Gari's moving images of the lost Upper West Side, and then to stroll along Broadway with him looking at today's storefronts, is to see the streetscape as an urban palimpsest, where remnants and recollections of the area's previous incarnations emerge unexpectedly, again and again, from beneath the current streetscape. The experience is like peering at the multilayered, weather-worn posters on a construction site's plywood fence, the top layer peeling away in places to reveal tantalizing scraps of the earlier images beneath it.

During an afternoon jaunt down Broadway, Mr. Gari stood outside a shiny Verizon Wireless store on the east side of the avenue near West 81st Street, a spot that in the 1963 "Naked City" episode was a bar and restaurant with a small metal awning. With a sweep of his hand, he pointed to other chain stores that in his opinion are robbing the Upper West Side of its individual character, making it increasingly less distinct from other neighborhoods.

On the west side of Broadway north of West 82nd Street, nearly the entire block — home to at least seven shops in 1963, including a Plymouth clothing store and a Schrafft's — was now taken up by Barnes & Noble and Talbots.

On the southeast corner at 81st Street, the Italian Renaissance-style 1913 81st Street Theater building, where shows from vaudeville to "Sesame Street" were performed, was now occupied by what Mr. Gari sees as three prime examples of the Upper West Side's increasingly soulless homogenization. These are a Starbucks, a Staples and the lobby of the inevitable condominium, a high-rise built on the site of the old theater's auditorium, which had been a second structure located behind the surviving Broadway building.

Mr. Gari gestured toward a few filled holes in the terra cotta on the building's corner, where a huge "RKO Keith's 81st Street" sign was once anchored. "To lose that building is sacrilegious," Mr. Gari grumbled, referring to the renovation of its interior. "It's historic, and now it's just been gutted, and all you've got is the shell."

Stops Along the Subway Circuit

Perhaps because of his grandfather's five-decade run as a star, first on New York's theatrical stages and then in its movie houses, Mr. Gari has always felt a particular pang of loss any time an Upper West Side theater disappears. He has episodes of "Naked City" showing the Loew's 83rd Street movie palace in 1961 and 1963, and in 1984 he captured the theater on video a few months before it was knocked down to make way for the Bromley condominium.

After the theater's demolition, he poked around in the debris and found a certificate issued to the theater by the New York Edison Company in 1935.

"It's trash to people," Mr. Gari said with a chuckle. "But to me it's history."

Mr. Gari also rescued a heavy metal-and-glass "Next Attraction" sign from the New Yorker theater, on Broadway near 89th Street, as the revival house was being razed in 1985. And he picked up a video camera and ambled into the old Thalia theater, on 95th Street off Broadway, as that Art Deco theater was being gutted in 1999 — until he was chased out by a beefy worker.

Among the places Eddie Cantor performed were theaters on the so-called Subway Circuit, which booked shows after their Broadway runs. One theater on the circuit was the Standard, later called the Stoddard, which was built in 1914 at 90th Street and Broadway. By the 1960's, the theater had become a supermarket, its marquee used to advertise specials on lobster tails and steer liver, as shown in documentary images Mr. Gari obtained from CBS.

After the supermarket, which had become a Food Emporium, was demolished in the mid-80's to make way for the New West apartment building and a new Food Emporium, Mr. Gari waded into the rubble. He emerged with a surprising vestige of the market's former incarnation: a 1961 form issued to the Stoddard Theater by the Workmen's Compensation Board.

But if the theater was once part of the Subway Circuit, where was the subway? Mr. Gari discovered the answer to that question in 1971, when he spotted a phantom platform and token booth while hurtling south on the subway from the 96th Street stop. For half a century beginning in 1904, the local IRT train stopped at Broadway and 91st Street, but as trains became longer, some stations were lengthened and others closed. The 91st Street station, rendered obsolete by the extension of the 96th Street platform, was shut down in 1959.

Standing on the northwest corner of West 91st Street and Broadway, Mr. Gari held up a 1940 photograph showing an ornate subway kiosk on that very spot. "Wanna see?" he asked, pointing to a small grate in the pavement.

"This is what's left of the 91st Street station." In the murk below the grate, one could make out an abandoned, dead-end staircase. "Buried," Mr. Gari declared darkly.

One block downtown, Mr. Gari stood in front of the City Diner, previously the Argo coffee shop, on the northwest corner of Broadway and 90th Street.

Buttoning up his TV Land jacket for warmth, he recalled a 1961 "Naked City" scene, shot north across 90th Street from the Standard Theater building, that showed a restaurant on the corner called Stark's. With a grin, he pointed out bolt holes still visible on City Diner's facade, beneath which could be discerned the all but invisible outline of the words Stark's Fine Foods.

In Search of a Personal Past

Mr. Gari has produced 13 CD's of performances by his grandfather, and as he has delved into Mr. Cantor's life, he has been surprised to discover how often he himself has unwittingly trod the same Upper West Side turf that his grandfather did.

In 1963, as a sixth grader at the McBurney School on West 63rd Street, Mr. Gari cut gym for months to watch "The Price Is Right," the television game show, as it was telecast up the street at the Colonial Theater on Broadway, north of West 62nd Street. Only years later did he learn that his grandfather performed there as far back as 1911, the year after Charlie Chaplin made his American debut on its stage. (The Colonial has since vanished and is now a nondescript public space called Harmony Atrium.)

When "The Price Is Right" moved to the Ritz Theater on West 48th Street, Mr. Gari followed, still regularly cutting gym. By coincidence, when his career led him to follow his grandfather to Broadway 23 years later, it was at the Ritz that "Late Night Comic," a short-lived 1987 musical for which Mr. Gari wrote the music and lyrics, was performed. Mr. Gari's account of the musical's bumpy production, "We Bombed in New London," will be published in July.

'You'll Be the One'

A few months before he died in 1964, Mr. Cantor wrote a letter to his grandson, then 12, that Mr. Gari says provided a lift of creativity that would determine the direction of his life.

After expressing his eagerness to see his grandson's film of the West Side, Mr. Cantor wrote: "From all appearances, it seems to me, you'll be the one to carry on the tradition of show business in the family." In October, the month his grandfather died, Mr. Gari wrote his first song. By the age of 15 he was traveling around the city by bus, selling his tunes to music publishers for $50 a pop.

One of the publishers he sometimes visited had its offices in the modern tower at 10 Columbus Circle (which, along with the adjoining New York Coliseum, was demolished in 2000 to make way for the Time Warner Center).

More than three decades would pass before Mr. Gari discovered just how much meaning that site has held for his family across three generations.

About five years ago, Mr. Gari explained the other day as he walked in the shadow of the blue-glass Time Warner complex, someone told him that his grandfather regularly served as host of the NBC variety show "The Colgate Comedy Hour," which was broadcast live from Columbus Circle. Mr. Gari's father, an actor and dancer named Roberto Gari, also performed in the show.

"The weird thing is," the son said, "it didn't make sense to me, because I only knew Columbus Circle as post-1956." The notion of a theater there seemed mistaken.

Then, four years ago, Mr. Gari had an epiphany while watching a 1954 Judy Holliday film called "It Should Happen to You!" In the movie, Holliday's character decides to have her name painted in giant letters on a billboard in Columbus Circle. And there, just south of the billboard, on the spot that in 1956 would become 10 Columbus Circle, could be seen the marquee of the International Theater, from which Mr. Cantor's highly rated television program was beamed to a national audience during the 1950-51 season.

"It was so important to me," Mr. Gari said, "because I got to see a living, breathing picture of how this block looked with a theater here."

Squinting with distaste at the gleaming 21st-century Time Warner Center, Mr. Gari pointed in the general direction of Stuart Weitzman, a shoe and handbag boutique on the ground floor.

"Right over there is where my grandfather did his show," he muttered. He wandered into the shiny mall inside the complex, then emerged a few minutes later with fresh evidence of just how mercilessly the city can expunge its past.

"Borders," he said ruefully, "doesn't even carry an Eddie Cantor CD."

Copyright 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

jeffpark
May 13th, 2006, 11:20 PM
when are they going to do work on the ugly shit subway station

BigMac
May 13th, 2006, 11:33 PM
MidtownGuy: Best photo I've seen so far of the circle. Definitely Wikipedia-worthy.

MidtownGuy
May 13th, 2006, 11:45 PM
Thanks, it's from the fourth floor mezzanine. I really like the way the Colombus monument and the Sherry Netherland relate to each other from this
spot.

antinimby
May 14th, 2006, 02:28 AM
That corner brick building with the AC units sticking out the windows really takes away from the grandeur of the circle. What a shame.

212
May 14th, 2006, 03:19 AM
Thanks, it's from the fourth floor mezzanine. I really like the way the Colombus monument and the Sherry Netherland relate to each other from this
spot.

Me too. That Fifth Avenue skyline almost looks like Downtown in the pre-box era. A real skyline!

TREPYE
May 14th, 2006, 04:34 AM
Me too. That Fifth Avenue skyline almost looks like Downtown in the pre-box era. A real skyline!

I resoundingly agree with you!

MidtownGuy
May 14th, 2006, 12:35 PM
That corner brick building with the AC units sticking out the windows really takes away from the grandeur of the circle.

The building on the corner is undergoing a renovation, the section that is done looks really nice, but the unfinished part is hideous indeed. I can't believe they let it get that bad.

antinimby
May 14th, 2006, 03:14 PM
The building on the corner is undergoing a renovation, the section that is done looks really nice, but the unfinished part is hideous indeed. I can't believe they let it get that bad.But will the renovation get rid of the AC units, people's stuff on balconies?
That prominent corner should be occupied by something more finer, like a 15 CPW or an old, ornamented, classic gem.

Zerlina
May 14th, 2006, 04:21 PM
hi Zerlina, I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures. I am going to make a thread with some more Spring time pictures I took recently.

Well, Midtown... I love your pics: I think you've got a sensitive soul... you're an artist... and your pics reveal it!:)

MidtownGuy
May 14th, 2006, 04:25 PM
:o

vc10
May 20th, 2006, 02:30 PM
Outstanding photo of an outstanding restoration taken at the very best time of the year in NYC. Manhattan is never as beautiful as it is in spring, when the leaves are newly out and the temperature is still reasonable -- a hint of crispness in the air.


today, on the way home from our wonderful planting in JB's honor, I stopped in TWC and took this pic. I love this circle so much now, I just can't stop taking pictures of it.

ArchiveNYC
May 23rd, 2006, 10:47 PM
Just one of the many views from my room!!

http://f5.putfile.com/5/14221454268.jpg

http://f5.putfile.com/5/14314172152.jpg

BigMac
May 25th, 2006, 11:53 PM
http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/2286/542/1600/110_1039.jpg
(Rattletaz)

http://the_samantha_files.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/p5200055_1.jpg
(Samantha)

ablarc
May 31st, 2006, 08:06 PM
Unbelievably nice.

The Park's other southern corner has just also been treated to a little lift.

ZippyTheChimp
June 4th, 2006, 08:30 PM
Sidewalk scaffolding has been removed at 240 CPS.
http://img144.imageshack.us/img144/9503/colcircle126hy.th.jpg (http://img144.imageshack.us/my.php?image=colcircle126hy.jpg)

Bronze banding installed over retail windows.
http://img144.imageshack.us/img144/3286/240cps05c7hf.th.jpg (http://img144.imageshack.us/my.php?image=240cps05c7hf.jpg)

czsz
June 4th, 2006, 08:40 PM
It's cleaner, but the apartment windows are still quite ragged.

lofter1
June 4th, 2006, 09:58 PM
For the most part those ^ are the original steel framed windows.

czsz
June 5th, 2006, 12:29 AM
The place would be 1000% better if it only had central AC...

BigMac
October 18th, 2006, 01:16 AM
leosusanow on Flickr:
http://static.flickr.com/98/225424452_5e2f6962a2_b.jpg

Esthr on Flickr:
http://static.flickr.com/29/62144405_fe2a6b3311_b.jpg

BigMac
October 24th, 2006, 12:32 AM
michaelphill on Flickr:
http://static.flickr.com/81/271883181_5058f0ad95_b.jpg

pianoman11686
October 27th, 2006, 06:03 PM
Fantastic^. Here's a perspective I don't think we've seen yet:

http://static.flickr.com/92/245925518_6321f108ce_b.jpg

whartonds' photostream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/48685334@N00/)

BigMac
October 28th, 2006, 12:45 AM
Great photo; almost looks like it could be a model of Columbus Circle.

I am fond of the renovations; Olin did a very good job in my opinion. I am particularly intrigued by the circle at night and have been on the lookout for a clear overhead picture of an evening view of the entire circle, but finding one is proving to be somewhat difficult. The closest I've seen is the second photo in post #195.

Thank goodness for Flickr and the like.

BigMac
October 28th, 2006, 01:43 AM
And no sooner did I post that than I may have found the closest thing yet to that photo:

http://asla.org/awards/2006/06winners/images/largescale/238_15.jpg

That and other rarely-seen, similarly large-scale photos can be seen on Columbus Circle's ASLA 2006 Professional Awards (http://www.asla.org/awards/2006/06winners/238.html) page.

antinimby
November 14th, 2006, 11:02 PM
Was afraid this was going to happen...

http://static.flickr.com/108/297565187_1bd85fd639.jpg

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeanlafitte/297565187/in/pool-18964236@N00

stache
November 15th, 2006, 12:11 AM
White boys can't have fun?

kz1000ps
November 15th, 2006, 12:31 AM
What -- an Xbox 360 and weed isn't enough?

lofter1
November 15th, 2006, 09:07 AM
I'm all for kids having a good time, but there is no denying that skateboards wreak havoc on stone / wood / metal when an area is used as a skate park ...

Check out the discoloration along those steps ^^^

You can see the same at various places throughout the new Columbus Circle Plaza, not to mention any number of other public plazas around NYC :mad:

ZippyTheChimp
November 15th, 2006, 09:23 AM
^
Skateboard wax

lofter1
November 15th, 2006, 09:46 AM
Subject: Wax Removal - Summary

http://list.uvm.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9811b&L=safety&D=1&P=5426

Thank you all for the numerous and swift response on the wax removal
problem.

Groups of enthusiastic young people are cruising on their skate boards
around town. They are looking for challenging skate board runs which
includes jumps, steps, ramps for the mobile impaired, monuments, etc. In
order to make the runs over steps smooth and less damaging to the underside
of skate boards, the skate buffs wax the underside of the skate board.

This wax then gets deposited on the steps, usually at the nose of the step making
steps very slippery. The wax is also tracked to other locations
nearby by skaters doing their wheelies, and by general pedestrian foot
traffic. We now have very slippery steps, and quite slippery pavement near
the steps and on ramps. This poses a safety hazard to the public, and it
may be a liability as well. Several slips and falls have occured and
threats of lawsuit have been documented as well. Due diligence dictates
that slipping hazard due to wax must be removed and avoided in future.

The question was posed: "How to remove that wax from concrete?"

A number of solutions were posted for REMEDIATION

Use heat to melt the wax and once melted, absorb wax with paper towels.
Open flame is not recommended because it may spall the concrete. A hot air
heat gun seems to be a good choice. The task will be slow and time
consuming.

Use steam cleaner to lift the wax. While this may work, a mechanism is
needed to absorb the melted wax. Transporting and transferring the wax is
not a total solution. Steam cleaning carpet vacuums may work.

Use commercial mobile cleaners. They are in business to clean greasy
garage floors, shop floors, ware house floors and industrial floors. They
use hot water and suitable detergents for the grease, and vacuum as they
go. This seems to be a good solution to protect nearby plantings as well.
Killing plants with solvents or chemical cleaners will likely produce
outrage, though it is difficult to hear plants scream.

Use solvents and absorbents. The trick is to find two things. A solvent
is needed to melt wax, and an absorbant is needed to capture all the wax.
Again, environmental consideration and potential health and fire hazard
may limit the choice to a solvent with poor performance. Non was
identified that could be used with confidence.

The method of choice in our situation turns out to be the commercial
cleaners. They offered to scrub not only the steps but also the paving
stone, blacktop, and the ramps nearby. We are looking at a standing offer
here. We will have to do this cleaning again and again. At hundreds of
dollars per visit, the cost may become a major budget item
akin to a snow removal budget.

lofter1
November 15th, 2006, 09:55 AM
Does anyone know how to remove skateboard wax from concrete?

http://forum.doityourself.com/showthread.php?t=67222 (http://forum.doityourself.com/showthread.php?t=67222)

Wax Removal

Most ski and skateboard wax removers contain D-Limonene.

Ms. Moppins is a big fan of the citrus cleaners. If you can't find 100% Orange Glo (D-limonene (http://www.floridachemical.com/whatisd-limonene.htm)) in your area, you can go to:

http://www.floridachemical.com (http://www.floridachemical.com)

Read and follow directions carefully.

Safe skateboarding!

Jasonik
November 15th, 2006, 12:49 PM
Why remove it? It's a sign of urban vitality. If the waxing hadn't happened then we could safely conclude that the new Columbus Circle failed.

lofter1
November 15th, 2006, 12:52 PM
of course, and let's leave the gum and trash and pigeon crap, too ...

all signs that a space is lively and well used :confused:

ZippyTheChimp
November 15th, 2006, 12:55 PM
You could say that about taking a whiz in the fountain.

Fabrizio
November 15th, 2006, 01:05 PM
"If the waxing hadn't happened then we could safely conclude that the new Columbus Circle failed."

Or perhaps that civility prevailed.

Alonzo-ny
November 15th, 2006, 02:46 PM
Why remove it? It's a sign of urban vitality. If the waxing hadn't happened then we could safely conclude that the new Columbus Circle failed.

what a place needs annoying skater boys to succeed now, i dont think so

daver
November 15th, 2006, 03:03 PM
Why remove it?
* Because it is unsightly
* Because it is slippery

BigMac
November 22nd, 2006, 02:51 PM
MichaelMinn.net (http://www.michaelminn.net/newyork/index.php?columbus_circle)

Columbus Circle was so named when a group of Italians donated the marble memorial to Columbus to the city in 1892. Plans to develop the area as a public space were never realized largely because of the volume of traffic on the surrounding streets. In 1999 the bland 50's era New York Coliseum was demolished and the traffic pattern was rerouted as a legitimate traffic circle. The area around the fountain was made into a pleasant but rather noisy public area.

With the completion of the new headquarters for TimeWarner on the west side of Columbus Circle in the Spring of 2004, the circle was again rebuilt, providing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to see the foundation for the monument, resting over the IRT subway line.

1901:
http://www.michaelminn.net/newyork/columbus_circle/1901_columbus_circle.jpg

2004:
http://www.michaelminn.net/newyork/columbus_circle/2004-05-26_15-21-24.jpg

© 1997-2006 by Michael Minn

Peteynyc1
November 22nd, 2006, 03:24 PM
^^^ What year was that sucka in the background built? (in the above pic) I hope it didn't replace some beautiful building from yesteryear. Its one of the uglier bordering the park on the South side, with all its mix of PC Richards A/C specials. Are those rentals? Turn it condo and replace the windows at the very least.

gradvmedusa
November 22nd, 2006, 03:28 PM
^^^ What year was that sucka in the background built? (in the above pic) I hope it didn't replace some beautiful building from yesteryear. Its one of the uglier bordering the park on the South side, with all its mix of PC Richards A/C specials. Are those rentals? Turn it condo and replace the windows at the very least.

That's 240 CPS and it's one of my favorite buildings in the city. You should find a more recent photo. The have cleaned the building and it shines like new, the air conditioners and old windows are still there though. It's a gorgeous piece of Art Moderne architecture.

antinimby
November 22nd, 2006, 09:30 PM
^ I don't see what you're seeing and I have seen it recently, after the cleaning and freshening.

Still not impressed.

ablarc
November 22nd, 2006, 09:42 PM
^ Let it grow on you. It's got lots of detail.

sfenn1117
November 23rd, 2006, 12:07 AM
Wasn't it the first large apartment building to make extensive use of balconies?

After the rehab it looks great.....understated simplicity.

gradvmedusa
November 24th, 2006, 10:21 PM
What do I like about it? The corner windows, the clean lines, the lovely massing of the roof, the curved street level retail. The lighting. I don't like the window AC's though.

antinimby
November 27th, 2006, 02:10 AM
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

To me it's just a step up from its close cousins in da hood:

ablarc
November 27th, 2006, 08:29 AM
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

To me it's just a step up from its close cousins in da hood:
Fundamental difference: it respects the street.

Even if you ignore all the sculptural and stylistic devices.

ZippyTheChimp
November 27th, 2006, 08:44 AM
240 CPS retail:

This was taken earlier this year. The brass banding has been restored. the brickwork above, which has since been cleaned, was behind the sidewalk shed.
http://img157.imageshack.us/img157/7924/240cps05cel6.th.jpg (http://img157.imageshack.us/my.php?image=240cps05cel6.jpg)

A recent view of the retail bays along Broadway.
http://img157.imageshack.us/img157/5206/240cps06cie0.th.jpg (http://img157.imageshack.us/my.php?image=240cps06cie0.jpg)

Citytect
November 27th, 2006, 06:08 PM
Even with the renovations, the building still looks rather shabby. It's hard to appreciate the architecture in a state of such degradation. I'm glad to see them trying to fix the place up, but, honestly, there's a lot more to do.

ablarc
November 27th, 2006, 06:18 PM
^ Through-the-wall A/C units would help.

Fabrizio
November 27th, 2006, 06:40 PM
OMG... THAT's after renovations? The best they could do? It's just NOT appropriate for that corner:

http://img157.imageshack.us/my.php?image=240cps05cel6.jpg

Whoa... check out the autographed photos in the window of Dino's Shoe repair:

http://www.hissandpop.com/celebrities/m/audreymeadows/photos/005.jpg

lofter1
November 27th, 2006, 11:11 PM
The a/c's are the killers ...

They mar an otherwise fantastic building. And cutting through the brick to do through-the-wall units might give a better appearance, but I hate the idea of chopping through that skin -- that's a "forever" change, whereas the in-the-window units can always be removed.

Just imagine the cost of retro-fitting this building with central a/c ... doubt that anyone would want to mandate that the building / condo owners have to go that route.

Citytect
November 28th, 2006, 09:26 PM
The window A/C units are the worst, but the windows themselves also need to be replaced.

lofter1
November 28th, 2006, 11:15 PM
The dimensions of the original steel windows structures are perfect for this building.

If they are going to replace the older windows here they need to come up with a consistent design rather than the hodge-podge installations that have taken place so far.

Many of the newer windows that have been installed in various places around the building are simply out of scale -- the mullions / frames are too large & heavy ...

http://www.nyc-architecture.com/MID/PICT0063.jpg

http://www.nyc-architecture.com/MID/PICT0062.jpg

http://www.nyc-architecture.com/MID/MID162.htm

Fabrizio
November 29th, 2006, 04:13 AM
If only the building had been maintained like the time-warp Rockefeller Apartments. (Another slightly earlier building in the moderne style). It still looks good today. Still has all the original windows. Soooo soigné:

http://www.nyc-architecture.com/MID/MID044.htm

ablarc
November 29th, 2006, 08:32 AM
http://66.230.220.70/images/post/rockefellerapts/01.jpg

BigMac
November 29th, 2006, 10:26 AM
Further detail on the renovation.

McGraw-Hill
Cover Story - December 2005
Best of 2005 Awards

Columbus Circle Reconstruction

Project of the Year - Overall Winner

by Tom Stabile

http://newyork.construction.com/images/2005/ColumbusCircle.jpg

Frederick Law Olmsted's 1858 vision for Manhattan's Central Park called for four grand plazas at the corners where the great rectangular space blends into city streets. But on the southwestern corner, it didn't work out that way.

It took until 1892 for the corner to get its signature feature, a Carrara marble monument to Christopher Columbus, under whose 1.5-million-ton foundation the IRT built its subway tunnels and Columbus Circle station 10 years later. Then, the advent of motor vehicles soon made the circle where Broadway, Central Park West, Central Park South, and Eighth Avenue meet into one of the city's busiest intersections - prompting municipal authorities over the years to shrink the center plaza in order to accommodate traffic.

The circle underwent various facelifts as the decades rolled past, none that had staying power. By the time the area's dominant modern feature along its western flank, the New York Coliseum convention hall, closed its doors in 1998, Columbus Circle had become one of the city's most forgettable public spaces.

"It was just a sad place," said one of the Best of 2005 jurors. "You had this monument sitting in the middle of nowhere. You could see it better two miles away."

But by that time, the wheels were already in motion for a reconstruction. The plans began in 1987, took shape in 1996, entered final design in 2000, broke ground in 2003, and finally finished this fall - ultimately earning the jury's vote for Project of the Year.

"It took what was an inaccessible place for decades to a place that all of a sudden people flow to," said one juror. "It was a place that no one could touch. And now it's a real part of the fabric."

The goal of the latest $21 million transformation was to make the junction useful again, said David Burney, commissioner of the city's Department of Design and Construction, which oversaw the project.

"It was never a pedestrian-friendly space," Burney said. "It had gotten butchered around. Our goal was to make the traffic flow properly and to make it a pedestrian-friendly plaza."

When Tully Construction of Queens began working onsite in 2003, the circle was barely functional, said Fred Hartmann, project manager for the company.

"There was a small 10 to-15 ft.-diameter fountain that was not working," he said. "There was no circle. It was a series of traffic medians out there. There was no park area."

The work in the 225,000-sq.-ft. project scope would encompass relocation of utilities, waterproofing of subway tunnel roofs, construction of new roadway, and building the fountain and plaza - all while 60,000 vehicles used the circle daily.

"If we could have closed all the roads, we could have done it in half the time," Burney said.

Along the way, the project team had to consult with the city's departments of parks, transportation, and city planning; the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which designated the statue as a landmark; the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; and Manhattan community boards 4, 5, and 7, each of which has a chunk of the circle within its jurisdiction. It was a large coordination effort, said Yun Poy "Dino" Ng, DDC's assistant commissioner for design.

"This is a high-visibility project," he said. "We have to deal with anybody who's anybody in that area, from the building owners to the parks department. Everybody has an opinion about what should and should not be done.

"A cast of thousands reviewed these drawings - 50 or 60 sets would go out," Ng added. "And when there's an issue, they don't just call us - they call City Hall."

A Long Road to Reach Final Design

Ng was around for the reconstruction's 1987 roots - he worked at the city's department of transportation when preliminary designs took shape, but then sat unused. Design firms on the early plans included San Francisco-based URS Corp., New York-based Skidmore Owings & Merrill, and New York-based Daniel Frankfurt.

In 1996, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's administration began planning to shutter the Coliseum and usher in a major redevelopment. The circle reconstruction plans got new attention, just as oversight of the project - along with Ng and others - moved to the newly created DDC.

"That's when they did the temporary circle with some landscaping and found the traffic configuration worked," Ng added.

In 1998, the city implemented other adjustments to the roadways and vehicle flow - reintroducing the traditional traffic rotary by removing lanes that had cut through the circle's center - and in 2000, Vollmer Associates of New York began to develop final designs. While the drafts incorporated utility upgrades, coordination with adjacent property owners, and improvements to the subway station, the critical task was engineering traffic flows.

"In the world of traffic modeling, there aren't a lot of circles being built in >> high-traffic urban areas," said Brian O'Donnell, senior associate at Vollmer.

Rotaries are rare in New York, so most of the modeling for Columbus Circle was custom-developed from analysis of the test configurations, said Andrea Nuñez, a civil engineer at Vollmer.

"We used simulations to develop the final plans," she added. "The test circle was in place in early 1998 and we didn't disturb it until 2003."

Taking on a Crowded Urban Space

After an extensive round of drawings, surveys, and test pits, Vollmer's final design set the stage for bids in February 2003 and construction to start that July. About 30 carpenters, electricians, concrete workers, lathers, plumbers, and others were onsite at a time - the most that could fit without "tripping over each other," said Tully's Hartmann.

Further crowding the area was construction of the 2.8-million-sq.-ft. Time Warner Center on the Coliseum site, along with the 1, 2, and 3 IRT subway lines under Broadway and the A, B, C, and D IND lines under Eighth Avenue and Central Park West.

The circle reconstruction team worked from the outside in and from bottom to top. It began with relocation of sewers, water and steam mains, and electric, telephone, and gas lines, said J. Evans Doleyres, DDC's assistant commissioner for infrastructure construction.

"We had a steam pipe and a sewer line that we moved west under the roadway, away from the circle," he added. "The object was to clear the area to fit the underground chambers for the fountains. Room was at a premium."

The upgrades went beyond the circle - up to 62nd Street and down to 59th Street - in hopes to avoid the need for other agencies or utilities to dig up the new pavement or plaza anytime soon.

The team next focused on building outer curbs and sidewalks before tackling the circle's lanes. It rushed to complete the road before August 2004, because the then-complete Time Warner Center was hosting events tied to the Republican national convention.

"We blitzed that portion, two shifts per day to bring it in on time," Doleyres said.

Instead of standard asphalt paving, the team poured more durable reinforced concrete, Ng added. Though requiring more precise equipment and longer curing times, the concrete should prevent the need for frequent repaving.

Concrete also gives vehicles in the circle more traction to compensate for a counter-intuitive pitch. Instead of banking inward, which would complement the tendency of tires to hug the inside of a curve, the lanes bank outward to let drainage flow away from the central plaza.

Almost an Urban Archeological Dig

The next chore was digging out the center around the statue's foundation. The team had to carve solid Manhattan schist to create the 28- by 36-ft. pump room, which is 15 ft. below grade and has a sump pump 8 ft. deeper.

The digging was delicate because of adjacent utilities and subway tunnels, Tully's Hartmann said.

"It took us a while to get rid of that rock," he added. "We drilled and split for the better part of a month. There was no blasting, and we also couldn't use the large hoe rams to bang it out."

Crews also dug to the subway tunnel roof to install catch basins and other equipment for the fountain. In another bid to avoid future excavation of the plaza, the team added elevator shafts to the MTA's station as part of that agency's separate effort to meet federal Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

"It looked like an archeological dig," Doleyres said.

The team blew out the top of the subway roof in three spots to install structural steel and modify the structure to fit the shafts, which are below grade and serve parts of the subterranean station. It then sealed the roof with a waterproofing liner and >> backfilled with a 3-in. layer of protection concrete and another layer of sand that also serves as the bed for extensive piping and mechanical equipment serving the new fountains.

The team shifted to above-ground work on the central plaza in November 2004, logging 12 to 14-hour days through the winter, said Rudy Giaccaglia Jr., Tully's onsite superintendent. A major task was building three pools for the fountains, whose waterproofing required minimum curing temperatures of 70 degrees.

"We built enclosures over all of the pools," Giaccaglia said. "We had 60,000-btu heaters in each of the tents, which made the temperature inside 80 degrees."

The fountain circulates 60,000 gallons, recycling water into the pump room, which has pumps for the cascades and 99 nozzles, as well as a debris strainer, filter, brominator, municipal water hookup, and wastewater discharge system.

The room also houses systems powering the park's 300-plus lights and features such as a sensor that assesses wind direction and adjusts nozzle patterns accordingly to avoid spraying water outside of the basins. The fountain's manufacturer, WET Design of Sun Valley, Calif., can monitor and control the equipment remotely.

By spring, the team was installing granite slabs for the fountains and plaza, Giaccaglia said. Above the recycling drains, the fountain basin has Mesabi Black granite, while the plaza area, planter section, curbs, and ring walls use other types of granite pavers, coping, and veneer.

In summer, the team installed custom-built, 55-ft.- to 74-ft.-long benches made of sturdy tropical Ipé hardwood that can last 25 years outdoors, Doleyres said. The three benches are wide and flat with no seat backs to accommodate more visitors.

By late summer, the city's parks department was already managing the plaza through its Central Park Conservancy arm. In late fall, the construction team was adding final touches, including a high-water alarm system for the pump room.

A Rare, Clear Consensus of Praise

The final product handily impressed the awards jury.

"The end product is beautiful," one juror said.

The jury also noted how the project won over the public.

"It's jammed with people," said another juror. "That's a real plus for the city. It's a Mecca."

Crowds were even gathering in early summer at the central plaza's perimeter, before construction was complete. The demand pushed the city to open it even before the benches were installed, said DDC commissioner Burney.

He said the early reviews are welcome, because the trees in the planters - intended to help the fountains drown out traffic noise - are not yet mature.

"With all of that traffic swirling around, you might think people would be intimidated getting in there," Burney added. "But people are enjoying it. I think they find it a bit of a sanctuary."

Key Players

Owner: N.Y.C. Department of Parks and Recreation; Central Park Conservancy; N.Y.C Department of Transportation; N.Y.C. Department of Environmental Protection; Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Program Manager: N.Y.C. Department of Design and Construction

General Contractor: Tully Construction

Civil-Structural Engineer: Vollmer Associates

Resident Engineer Inspector: Ammann & Whitney

Landscape Architect: Olin Partnership

Fountain Designer: WET Design

Lighting Designer: L'Observatoire International

Irrigation Designer: Lynch & Associates

M-E-P Engineer: Cosentini Associates

Plumbing Contractor: WDF

Electrical Contractor: Hellman Electric

Paving: Professional Pavers

Landscaping-Irrigation: Garden City Irrigation & Maintenance Services

© 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

antinimby
November 29th, 2006, 09:26 PM
^ Great read and provides an excellent example of the mindboggling amount of bureaucracy and obstacles projects encounter in New York.


Along the way, the project team had to consult with the city's departments of parks, transportation, and city planning; the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which designated the statue as a landmark; the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; and Manhattan community boards 4, 5, and 7, each of which has a chunk of the circle within its jurisdiction.

"We have to deal with anybody who's anybody in that area, from the building owners to the parks department. Everybody has an opinion about what should and should not be done.

"A cast of thousands reviewed these drawings - 50 or 60 sets would go out," Ng added. "And when there's an issue, they don't just call us - they call City Hall."

No wonder it took this long.


The plans began in 1987, took shape in 1996, entered final design in 2000, broke ground in 2003, and finally finished this fall - ultimately earning the jury's vote for Project of the Year.

antinimby
November 29th, 2006, 09:42 PM
By spring, the team was installing granite slabs for the fountains and plaza, Giaccaglia said. Above the recycling drains, the fountain basin has Mesabi Black granite, while the plaza area, planter section, curbs, and ring walls use other types of granite pavers, coping, and veneer.All that expensive granite for skateboarders.

I don't know...

BigMac
January 12th, 2007, 01:48 PM
Landscape Architecture
January, 2007

Hello, Columbus

How did a traffic circle on the edge of the country’s most beloved urban park become an amenity, even a destination?

By Linda McIntyre

http://www.asla.org/lamag/lam07/January/images/LAM1_07ColumbCircle.gif

There’s a spiffy new place to hang out on New York’s West Side. Its minimalist but functional design attracts both locals and tourists, and the people watching is superb.

It’s a traffic circle.

Columbus Circle, on the southwest corner of Central Park, is in a spot envisaged by the park’s designers, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, as a major entryway into the park. From the circle the Merchant’s Gate into the park is clearly visible. The cool greenery of the park beckons pedestrians baking on the pavement on a hot day, and more than 60,000 cars whiz through the rotary every day.

But when Landscape Architecture spent a couple of warm hours in the circle in early September, it was full of people. And the people were not necessarily on their way to the park—they were eating and drinking, reading books, chatting with friends, walking their dogs, and playing with their children. That the circle was recently redesigned by the Olin Partnership, known for its designs’ sensitivity to context, does not make it less surprising that a traffic circle has siphoned off so much attention from a landmark of landscape architecture.

Before the traffic patterns at Columbus Circle were changed in the late 1990s as part of a redevelopment of the area, the intersection, one of the busiest in Manhattan, was a hazard for both drivers and pedestrians. Before this change, Columbus Circle wasn’t actually a circle; it was a set of concrete islands bisected by Broadway and 8th Avenue, housing a column, standing in a small fountain, topped with a statue of Christopher Columbus. Architecture critic Paul Goldberger famously described the circle in 1979 as “a chaotic jumble of streets that can be crossed in about 50 different ways—all of them wrong.” When Donald Trump bought the Gulf & Western Tower on the north side of the circle and reopened it in 1997 as the Trump International Hotel and Tower, his feng shui consultant put a shiny globe at the front of the building to deflect the bad energy from Columbus Circle.

Some of that bad energy probably emanated not from the circle itself, however unsatisfactory, but rather from the New York Coliseum, the windowless, rectangular, white-brick convention center that used to dominate the site. The building was never beloved; soon after it was completed in the mid-1950s, Art News complained of its “hybrid pseudomodern” style and “total lack of relation” to Columbus Circle.

The city rezoned the site in the early 1980s, but plans to replace the coliseum stalled in the face of community opposition. Later, in 1989, landscape architect Laurie Olin, FASLA, worked with the Central Park Conservancy on a study of Columbus Circle and the southwest entry into the park; the study led the Conservancy to commission a redesign of the Merchant’s Gate by another landscape architect, Patricia McCobb, ASLA, but the circle itself remained a mess. Finally, about a decade later, the administration of then-mayor Rudolph Giuliani shuttered the coliseum as part of a push to redevelop the area at a time of economic prosperity and soaring real estate values. Giuliani’s planning commissioner, Joe Rose, wanted Columbus Circle redone as well. The segments were cobbled together in a temporary fashion, the first step toward making Columbus Circle a circle again.

Imagining a Great Civic Space

While redevelopment plans for the neighborhood were taking shape, the Municipal Art Society (MAS), a nonprofit focused on urban design, planning, and preservation, held a design competition to capitalize on what it saw as a unique opportunity. The group, which had followed the machinations over the coliseum site closely, even filing a lawsuit to block an early redevelopment proposal, invited six prominent design teams to submit “visionary proposals” for a new Columbus Circle. “We felt it should have a special quality, given its historic character, its position in relation to Central Park, and its status as a transportation hub both aboveground and belowground,” says MAS Senior Vice President Frank Sanchis. “It had the potential to be a truly great public space for the city.”

The design teams, which were given $5,000 each and a little more than a month to develop their designs, rose to the occasion, producing a series of ambitious proposals.

- The team of Machado Silvetti, a Boston architecture and urban design firm, and Philadelphia’s Olin Partnership proposed a European-style piazza crowned by a tensile circular canopy, composed of rings, cables, and struts, resting on a series of iconographic supports marking the subway station, the park gate, and the converging streets. The center of the circle would have been raised, making the subway concourse visible and providing the structure for two amphitheaters. Juror Albert Butzel, chairman of the Hudson River Park Alliance, called the design a “grand gesture,” and noted that its boldness could attract a developer. “The central space is well thought out; it could be a public place of some importance.”

- The design submitted by Rafael Viñoly Architects featured a dome-shaped trellis holding a series of ramps and elevated walkways to offer pedestrians spectacular views into Central Park and entry into the new building on the coliseum site. The Columbus monument would sit on a pedestal in the center of a reflecting pool. Juror Henry Cobb, of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, expressed ambivalence about the flamboyance of the dome, saying it “unambiguously takes center stage.” Viñoly said the dome was a way of rationalizing a space that was “a mess. Instead, you look at the dome, all of a sudden you are up in space, and you don’t worry about these other considerations.”

- Landscape architect Dan Kiley proposed a greener solution, comprising concentric rings of clipped trees expanding out from the center of the circle. A canal fitted with water jets would run around the inner circle, providing a relatively quiet and contemplative space at the center. Cobb said the center of the circle was “the essence” of this design. “The fountain and the trees could make it attractive enough for people to want to go there,” he said. But fellow juror Stanford Anderson, chairman of the MIT Department of Architecture, was doubtful. “Turning the center into a quiet space, which at best can operate only during a small part of the year, may not be successful, or even appropriate.”

- Kennedy & Violich Architecture proposed making the circle a transition zone between the park and the transit systems. Bosques of trees would shelter benches, bus shelters and kiosks would be built, and space and infrastructure for a market in the center of the circle would be provided. Glass block would allow for the exchange of light between the circle aboveground and the subway station below. The plaza at the park entry would be extended into the circle, and traffic would be reconfigured into a three-quarter roundabout. Cobb expressed some disappointment with this design. “Visually, it can’t be that significant at eye level for people who are inevitably going to be preoccupied,” he said. “Yet it is expensive and technically difficult.” “It’s modest, not heroic,” said designer Sheila Kennedy, “but it has characteristics that would contribute to a variety of activities.”

- The design by Weiss/Manfredi Architects would have created an open pedestrian concourse, with a tourist information and ticketing center, café, gallery, and performance spaces below ground level at the center of the circle. Shade trees would line the sidewalks around the circle’s outer perimeter. Juror Brendan Sexton, an MAS trustee, liked the challenging nature of the design but expressed doubt about the feasibility of the engineering. But Michael Manfredi noted that “the city’s transportation department and Con Ed are continually opening up and excavating streets.... Overcoming the territorial and jurisdictional barriers between agencies,” he said, would be more difficult than the engineering.

- The final design, by Michael Sorkin Studio, would have also opened the center of the circle, covering it with a 12-foot-high walkable oval glass dome. Ramps on the edge of the circle would lead down to the subway. The design proposed reopening 59th Street, west of the circle, through the coliseum site, leading to steps that enter an extended Riverside Park. Cobb said the design challenged the city to exhibit “one of the glories of New York, which is what happens underground.”

Summing up the results of the competition, Cobb said it showed that Columbus Circle had “the potential to be a great and emblematic space...not just an embarrassing leftover.” Anderson agreed, saying the competition convinced him that the circle could be fashioned into a discrete civic space independent of the buildings around it. And Sexton wondered what the city could achieve with “a real design budget and a real schedule,” given what the designers had done on a shoestring.

Full Circle

At about the same time the design competition was held, a new proposal to develop the coliseum site got some traction. Time Warner and the Related Companies paid about $345 million for the site, on which they built a large mixed-use complex including condominiums, a Mandarin Oriental hotel, a Whole Foods supermarket and other shops, and a clutch of expensive restaurants operated by star chefs such as Thomas Keller and Gray Kunz. The glass-fronted building, designed by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, is curved at its base to echo the shape of Columbus Circle.

Unfortunately, says Sanchis, the developers took little interest in most of the ideas arising from the design competition. “We tried to interest the powers that be—Related Companies, the planning commission—in looking at the more ambitious ideas from the competition, but it didn’t work,” says Sanchis. “We were disappointed that the budget for the circle was so low, when so much was being spent on the building.” The budget for the circle was about $15 million; infrastructure upgrades added millions more to the total cost.

One of the designs, however, did strike a chord with city planners—the relatively simple and green design by Kiley. The city tried to develop a design with McCobb, but the ensuing tug-of-war among municipal agencies and neighborhood groups ended in a compromise with which nobody was happy.

With the construction under way at the Time Warner site and the clock ticking on the Giuliani era, Rose summoned Olin to New York in 2001 and asked him to produce a new design before Giuliani left office. Olin also met with Steve Ross of the Related Companies, who agreed to kick in a portion of the design and construction fees.

Olin’s history with the site allowed him to move quickly on a new design. “We already had some good ideas,” he says. “Everyone, including us, liked the Kiley design from the MAS competition. We wanted good pavement, good access. Everyone loves water! We had to get the statue out of that bathtub it had been standing in and use water in a better way. We wanted to do a skylight. But we had a fairly good idea of the limitations we were working under.”

The exact parameters of those limitations quickly became apparent, says Olin. While he was able to produce design documents before the Giuliani administration left office in January 2002, the process of approving the design and building the project took considerably longer. The Metropolitan Transport Authority put the kibosh on the skylight. The city Department of Transportation refused to allow unit pavers in the roadway. Disagreements about lighting and paving slowed work on the project, and the designers were not allowed to use as many trees as they had wanted to. Underneath the site, two subway tunnels and a maze of phone and electric wires and sewers complicated construction. But construction began in July 2003, and in autumn 2005, a new Columbus Circle made its public appearance.

The Columbus monument remains at the center of the circle, now framed in views looking west by the two towers of the Time Warner building. The small fountain on which it had sat was removed, allowing visitors to study it closely and read the inscriptions at its base. The steps around the base are a popular place to sit, even on a hot summer’s day.

Water still provides visual respite, white noise, and relief from the heat (technically nobody is allowed in the fountains, but small children and dogs broke the rule with impunity during Landscape Architecture’s visit). Three new dark granite basins fitted with fountain jets surround the paved area around the monument. “We had wanted to do something similar in Bryant Park, but the Parks Department didn’t allow it,” says Olin. “We liked the idea of crossing planes of flat water and being in the center of a place. It makes people feel special; they can look around at other people or look at the water and feel more alone.” Curved wooden benches, designed with enough depth to comfortably allow back-to-back seating, follow the fountain’s edge. In colder months, when the fountains are turned off, the steps into the basins are accessible to visitors and can be used as bleacher seating.

The berms formed by the fountains and the planting beds are bisected by broad pedestrian walkways at 8th Avenue, Broadway, and 59th Street/Central Park South that provide safe, easy, and clearly marked access to the circle from the surrounding busy streets. “It’s not a pure rotary; it has lights,” says Olin. “But it works very well.” Olin credits Philip Habib, a traffic engineer formerly with the city government and now in private practice, for his thoughtful reworking of roads around the circle.

The landscape architects, working with a platoon of city agencies and engineers, also streamlined the cluttered collection of lights and signs that had long confused people walking and driving through the area. There are no streetlights inside the circle; instead, the lighting showcases the monument, the trees, and the fountain jets, and lights underneath the benches and along the planting beds emphasize the strong, simple lines of the design.

Even prior to its official opening in September 2005, people were flocking in before trees were planted and benches were installed.

The new Columbus Circle, taken out of its context, is an extremely simple, some might say dull, place. Would Columbus Circle be a better place if one of the more visionary designs, by Olin or others, had been built?

“It would not be better; it would be different,” says Olin. “It would have been nice to be able to add a little more to the design. But the simplicity is attractive.” A higher concept design, he says, might not be as inviting.

The MAS’s Sanchis is more wistful. “It’s a pleasant place to be on a nice day,” he says, but he regrets that the city’s and developer’s investment in redesigning the circle was not more on a par with that in the Time Warner building. “It was not designed to be a major public space in the city. The subway is still disconnected from street-level activity.” He says that while a design emphasizing the connection between the above- and below-grade levels at the site could not be easily done, the challenge was certainly surmountable with the necessary commitment of time, money, and will.

But this design, at a busy and potentially dangerous intersection in the heart of a great city, links the historic and pastoral Central Park with the shiny new Time Warner Center, with its posh restaurants and mundane but convenient shops. It’s a way to move seamlessly from one version of New York to another, or to move quickly and easily between midtown and uptown, or between the east and west sides of the city. It’s a place to pause and reflect, or to meet a friend before lunch or a stroll through the park. Such a place might not be a great work of art, but it’s a gift to people who walk through that intersection every day, or wander through during a rare visit to New York. “It’s the sort of urban space that people don’t need an owner’s manual to use,” says Olin. For most of us, who vote on such things with our feet, that qualifies as great urban design.

Project Credits Landscape architecture: Olin Partnership, Philadelphia (Laurie Olin, FASLA, principal in charge; E. Allan Spulecki, ASLA, associate, project manager; Matt Chu, Richard Roark, Xiaodi Zheng, landscape architects; Pi-Chu Li, landscape designer). Client: New York City Departments of Design and Construction, City Planning, and Parks and Recreation; Central Park Conservancy. Fountain design: WET Design, Sun Valley, California. Lighting designers and consultants: L’Observatoire International, New York. Irrigation consultants: Lynch & Associates, Beltsville, Maryland. Civil, structural, transportation engineer of record: Vollmer Associates LLP, New York. Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineer: Cosentini Associates, New York.

Sidebar:

Opinions about the new Columbus Circle reflect a full spectrum of views, not only about the circle itself, but about the character of any great public space.

“A surprisingly generous sanctuary at the heart of a busy traffic rotary, cocooned inside a wraparound fountain with 99 jets whose arcs suggest the circle itself and whose changing sound masks the surrounding hubbub.”

—The New York Times, August 2005

“A pathetic little disc of greenery and granite floating in a soup of car exhaust. Awkward to approach across four lanes of traffic, inhospitably exposed and shadeless for decades to come—until its scrawny young yellow buckeye trees mature—it begs to be ignored by lunching office workers and neglected by the city’s maintenance staff.”

—Newsday, August 2005

“Finally, a traffic island worth the effort! This project makes a real difference; it animates the urban design of that area.”

—ASLA jury, 2006

“It’s a vast improvement over what was there; it just doesn’t live up to the potential of the space.”

—Frank Sanchis, Municipal Art Society, to Landscape Architecture

“It’s jammed with people. That’s a real plus for the city. It’s a mecca.”

—New York Construction jury, 2005 (the Columbus Circle reconstruction won that magazine’s 2005 award for Project of the Year)

“Not an insensitive design, but there’s not much to do there.”

—Fred Kent, Project for Public Spaces, to Landscape Architecture

©2006 American Society of Landscape Architects

lofter1
January 12th, 2007, 02:04 PM
Hello, Columbus

How did a traffic circle on the edge of the country’s most beloved urban park become an amenity, even a destination?

... Columbus Circle, on the southwest corner of Central Park, is in a spot envisaged by the park’s designers, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, as a major entryway into the park. From the circle the Merchant’s Gate into the park is clearly visible. The cool greenery of the park beckons pedestrians baking on the pavement on a hot day, and more than 60,000 cars whiz through the rotary every day.

But when Landscape Architecture spent a couple of warm hours in the circle in early September, it was full of people ... That the circle was recently redesigned by the Olin Partnership, known for its designs’ sensitivity to context, does not make it less surprising that a traffic circle has siphoned off so much attention from a landmark of landscape architecture.

Something not mentioned in the article is the mess that the Merchant's Gate plaza area has become -- cluttered with the tables full of assorted souvenirs along with hawkers selling this or that "tour" and transportation opportunity ...

The new center of Columbus Circle is refreshingly free of any of that commercial intrusion -- which truly allows it to be a place of rest and repose at the center of the city.

BigMac
January 16th, 2007, 04:46 PM
I came across a quote today in reference to the former condition of the circle. Paul Goldberger said in his 1979 book The City Observed that the statue of Columbus looks "as if he had been waiting since 1892 for a break in the traffic so that he might go somewhere more comfortable..."

BigMac
February 22nd, 2007, 06:35 PM
NYCArthur on Flickr
March 28, 2006
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/133/394529071_48446584c9_b.jpg

Brooklyn Hilary on Flickr
February 21, 2007
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/171/398052105_7e33f26ca4_o.jpg

AlphaQuam on Flickr
February 11, 2007
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/164/387674834_aa9c54e1bf_o.jpg

eddienyc on Flickr
February 11, 2007
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/156/387476008_3053a19d5e_b.jpg

Fahzee
February 22nd, 2007, 06:45 PM
Brooklyn Hilary on Flickr
February 21, 2007
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/171/398052105_7e33f26ca4_o.jpg


man - that shot shows what's great AND bad about the new Columbus Circle. Great Landscaping, great ideas, sure - but what is with the the entrances to interior of the circle? Why anyone would think that it would be better to enter Columbus circle from the traffic median on Central Park South instead of from Central Park is beyond me

stache
February 22nd, 2007, 09:49 PM
It' s a pretty quick wait to get to the pedestrian island there at CPS.

Edward
March 17th, 2007, 10:33 PM
The new Columbus Circle on 16 March 2007.

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/184/424673003_fdb7d67222_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sudentas/)

ZippyTheChimp
June 10th, 2007, 06:31 PM
Renovated shops at 240 cps ready for leasing.

http://img408.imageshack.us/img408/1347/240cps09cey2.th.jpg (http://img408.imageshack.us/my.php?image=240cps09cey2.jpg)

BigMac
July 27th, 2007, 10:18 AM
From Flickr:

July 23, 2007:
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1108/878640921_477cad13f8_o.jpg

July 13, 2007:
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1121/799022945_9ba36d90d4_b.jpg

BrooklynRider
July 27th, 2007, 02:54 PM
This is a really nicely design park space. I'm glad it was so ethusiastically received by New Yorkers and tourists.

Derek2k3
July 28th, 2007, 08:41 AM
Nice shots. I wish they'd change the lighting colors of Time Warner from time to time.

BigMac
October 20th, 2007, 09:22 PM
cantwork on Wikipedia
September 16, 2007

Larger Size (http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1106/1393198832_8c59b991c5_o.jpg)

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1106/1393198832_78b0bf917e.jpg

It's interesting to watch the Yellow Buckeyes mature over time.

Edward
October 23rd, 2007, 01:58 AM
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2337/1702977650_dafe6a6c18_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sudentas/sets/72157602629739991/show/)

BigMac
October 23rd, 2007, 08:23 PM
Nice photo Edward!

tr0nix on Flickr
October 21, 2007

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2359/1678695619_c55842ba5d_o.jpg

MidtownGuy
October 23rd, 2007, 10:18 PM
Edward, that picture is gorgeous. Amazing lighting effects all over the place and so sharp.
What a great new public space. Now we need more of 'em.
What's next? Astor Place ?(right after evicting Chase and getting some appropriate uses in there)

ablarc
October 27th, 2007, 02:28 PM
Some of the trees are gone already?

Looks gap-toothed.

lofter1
October 27th, 2007, 06:17 PM
I thought that too ^^^ now that the trees have started to grow in.

But I looked back over earlier photos and it seems that the trees were spaced that way
when the original plantings went in -- most likely as a way to preserve "view corridors"
looking west on 59th and north on Eighth.

Although an early rendering (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=26745&postcount=20) showed "thicker" plantings:

http://www.metropolismag.com/images/images_0404/ob/ColumbusCircle3.jpg

Early photos showed a less crowded circle of trees ...

http://www.olinptr.com/images/project_image_columbuscircle1.gif

January 2006 (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=78789&postcount=139):

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/55/ColumbusCirclefromTimeWarnerCenterNYC20050807.jpg/800px-ColumbusCirclefromTimeWarnerCenterNYC20050807.jpg

May 2006 (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=98361&postcount=162):

http://static.flickr.com/47/145713413_607ff120d0_b.jpg

A HUGE photo (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=127809&postcount=189) (too big to post) from October 2006 ...

And more recently (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=192783&postcount=235), September 2007:

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1106/1393198832_78b0bf917e.jpg

BigMac
November 8th, 2007, 03:27 PM
The renovated circle gets Fido's prestigious seal of approval:

http://nymag.com/daily/intel/20070627dog.jpg
(June, 2007 - New York Magazine)

RandySavage
November 8th, 2007, 05:59 PM
Great photo!

Tectonic
November 8th, 2007, 06:14 PM
I notice the dogs really love that fountain. They enjoy it way more than we do.

MidtownGuy
November 9th, 2007, 01:16 PM
Very cute picture.
I would love to see more fountains around town, they give the city such a majestic feeling, maybe someone can figure out how to make them energy/water efficient so we can have more of them. Maybe they already did. I always thought one would like nice in the dead triangle across from the Flatiron too.

Tectonic
November 9th, 2007, 04:14 PM
I always thought one would like nice in the dead triangle across from the Flatiron too.

Good idea, when I stand there I always feel like somethings missing.

BigMac
November 9th, 2007, 04:23 PM
NYC Marathon at Columbus Circle - 11/4/07 (http://rfcgraphics.com/request/nymarathon113.jpg)

DarrylStrawberry
February 20th, 2008, 10:31 PM
By Myron Magnet

Architecture’s Battle of the Modernisms
. . . and what it means for Gotham’s future

If you want to know what Gotham’s twenty-first-century skyscrapers ought to look like, go over to 15 Central Park West and gaze at the brilliant apartment building Robert A. M. Stern is just completing on the entire block from Central Park West to Broadway, between 61st and 62nd Streets. And while you’re there, stand on 62nd Street and look south between the structure’s two towers. In one glance, you’ll see the best that recent urban modernism has to offer—and the worst. It’s an instant object lesson in the right and the wrong ways to build the New York of the future.Modernist architecture almost from the start had two chief strains. The one that produced Manhattan’s greatest icons, the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings, as well as Rockefeller Center, flows from Paris: from the classical massing, symmetry, and proportion that Gotham architects learned at the École des Beaux-Arts, and from the astonishing vocabulary of ornament that they learned from the 1925 Exposition des Arts Décoratifs that gave us the art deco style. The other current, the International Style, flowing from the Bauhaus art and design school founded in Germany in 1919, gave the world the glass and steel box, which arrived in New York at the start of the 1950s in the relatively refined forms of the UN Secretariat and Lever House on Park Avenue. For the next half-century, that style didn’t so much develop as degenerate, producing such creations as the Trump International Hotel at Columbus Circle, which we see to our left as we look south from 62nd Street.

This grandiosely named building is a fine example of what not to do. In fairness, developer Donald Trump began with an awful International Style edifice, the 1967 Gulf and Western Building, whose structural flaws caused it to sway enough to make visitors seasick. Trump’s rebuilding three decades later, by architect Philip Johnson, made the tower stop blowing in the wind, but in other respects it merely put lipstick on a pig. Johnson had promised a latter-day Seagram Building, International modernism’s mid-fifties holy of holies. But that Park Avenue shrine, the excitement of its newness long gone, looks good half a century later chiefly in relation to the thousands of mediocre or downright execrable imitations it spawned, right up to the Trump International Hotel.

The Seagram Building was soulless and antihumanist, not only in aspiring to be a stripped-down, undecorated “machine for living,” as if human beings did not always need to adorn their living with such transforming mystiques as marriage, manners, and art. It was soulless also in its implication that individuals are interchangeable units to shove into a bureaucratic grid of identical cubicles imposed on them from above. But such austere elegance as the Seagram Building managed to achieve by covering its spare, almost anorexic frame with a grid of bronze mullions and by standing aloof in its chilly but expensive plaza vanished entirely in the imitations run up block after block by developers happy to rename cheapskate cost-cutting “minimalism” and “functionalism.” When Johnson sheathed the Trump International Hotel in bronze-colored glass, a smear of acrid brown against the sky, perhaps he really did produce the ne plus ultra of the International Style—pure Trumpery.

The International Style’s practitioners loved to issue manifestos proclaiming theirs the authentic architecture of the Machine Age. Turn your eye slightly to the right of the Trump International Hotel and you’ll see an up-to-the-minute example of the architecture of the Computer Age, Norman Foster’s Hearst Tower, completed a year ago at Eighth Avenue and 57th Street and seemingly conceived not by a human being but by state-of-the-art design software. Thanks to microchip power, the two-dimensional grid has evolved in the new millennium into a whole garden of abstract, rationalist three-dimensional shapes, from Lord Foster’s London City Hall, whose appearance of a stack of dishes teetering on the verge of tumbling down provides a perfect setting for Mayor Ken Livingstone, to his Swiss Re headquarters, also in London, which Londoners inevitably dubbed “the Crystal Phallus.”

Like the Phallus, the new hub of the Hearst publishing empire looks like a rocket ship that has invaded an unsuspecting metropolis, an impression heightened on 57th Street because the Thing from Outer Space seems to have chosen as a perfectly shaped landing pad the old, six-story International Magazine Building, out of whose limestone shell it rises. Formed of external, crisscrossing diagonal beams, like a scissor lift or a scissor jack for your car, the building ought to look as though it is straining upward toward the sky. But strangely, it looks instead as though it is transmitting its tremendous force not heavenward but downward into the earth, with such brute and resentful force that in time the ground will crack from river to river, and who knows what slimy alien creatures will slither out of the fissures.

Buildings once expressed some human value or aspiration—and I don’t mean just Greek temples or Gothic cathedrals that proclaimed the immanence of the sacred, but also structures like the old GE building on Lexington Avenue and 51st Street, with its riot of moderne decoration magnificently celebrating man’s mastery of electric power. By contrast, the Hearst Tower is as soulless as any International-Style edifice, and to make up for that defect, it has appropriated an artificial soul. Like a growing number of twenty-first-century buildings in the same plight, it declares itself a temple of ecology that treads lightly and reverently upon the earth, despite its oppressive—indeed, elephantine—footprint, despite the wholly manufactured appearance of its shiny stainless-steel exoskeleton and four-story-high glass scales, despite housing a corporation that gobbles up forests, and despite standing in a metropolis that is triumphantly a work of art, not nature. Nevertheless, though neither civilization nor capitalism has anything to apologize for in the use it makes of the earth, the building’s entrance proudly sports the seal of the U.S. Green Building Council, and the Hearst Corporation’s website coos about the building’s “environmental sustainability,” including its recycled steel (like most steel nowadays), its energy efficiency, and its “harvesting” of rainwater, which, among other wonders, bubbles down the atrium waterfall, “believed to be the nation’s largest sustainable water feature.”

Dominating the dramatically high and light-suffused atrium from the place of honor above the waterfall is Riverlines, Richard Long’s 50-foot-high . . . well, finger painting. I am not kidding. Long, noted for his artworks of stones laid out in circles, spirals, and lines, has scooped up mud from the banks of the Hudson and the Avon Rivers and smeared it all over the Hearst Corporation’s wall like a baby smearing his nursery walls with doo-doo. Dribbles of mud even remain where they dried on the wall below. This mural expresses, as a gracious and well-informed security guard told me, reverence for the earth—a bit too literally, perhaps, for my metropolitan taste. It expresses as well the truth of the dictum, ascribed to Chesterton, that in a secular age people don’t believe in nothing but in anything.

Worse than all this, the Hearst Tower is an act of vandalism, smashing as it does through the gutted shell of the old International Magazine Building, an art deco masterpiece by the extraordinary Vienna-born Joseph Urban, an architect of genius as well as a first-rate set designer and theater and opera director. The six stories finished in 1928 were to have at least seven more added to them, had the Depression not intervened. Though no plans for these survive, Urban’s dramatic, almost histrionic, urn-capped giant columns literally point the way upward. Imagine what a great architect and an enlightened municipal historic-preservation policy could have achieved merely by following Urban’s lead in a creative way.

Turning again to the right, we move from this grunting Caliban of a building to something more in graceful Ariel’s realm of the spirits: David Childs’s upward-aspiring 2004 Time Warner Center, on the western edge of Columbus Circle. Childs employs the International Style’s grammar to speak in art deco’s vocabulary, with a down-home New York accent. His structure is steel and glass, yes; but its form, with two soaring towers, echoes the much-loved twin-spired art deco apartment buildings that march northward up Central Park West: the Century, the Majestic, the San Remo, and the El Dorado, all built (like the Empire State Building) in 1930 and 1931.

Like these precursors, the Time Warner Center soars heavenward. Its two towers, crowned with glass crenellations like the masonry buttresses that top its art deco models, lighten the 69-story building’s huge bulk by dividing it in two, and draw the eye ever upward. Because of the building’s site, with Columbus Circle and Central Park to the east and mostly low-rise structures to the west, the gray-blue glass skin doesn’t reflect neighboring buildings but in effect holds a mirror up to nature. It’s a new Manhattan pleasure to drive down Fifth Avenue or up Tenth and watch the two towers change mood and color with the shifting clouds and sky. Their crowns, lit up at night, are the latest Gotham landmark.

The two towers echo but don’t ape their art deco forerunners, and it’s important to acknowledge what a marvel of city planning Childs has accomplished with them. His first problem was to close the vista looking west along Central Park South without blocking it. Voilà, the two spires perfectly frame the western sky. But even more difficult, Childs had to square the circle: to conform to the shape of Columbus Circle while also fitting the structure into the New York grid. He did this by making the towers parallelograms instead of squares (which further lightens their apparent bulk) and by building them with setbacks, rotating each segment away from the circle and into the square as they rise one upon another. This twisting strengthens the building’s impression of dynamic power, and it creates as well a series of planes and angles more interesting than those in a cubist painting because they are necessary rather than arbitrary.

If only the base along Columbus Circle weren’t so banal, and the atrium, lined by four stories of shops, didn’t resemble a suburban shopping mall that seems more Manhasset than Manhattan! If only the interior finishes weren’t so tacky and the ceilings so cheeseparingly low, even in the so-called Grand Ballroom of the hotel that takes up part of the building! Nevertheless, to get so many things right in what is in effect a little city, with apartments, a corporate headquarters, fancy restaurants, a concert hall, and a supermarket in addition to the hotel and the shops, is a gift and a wonder—and a happy start for the new millennium.

If Norman Foster brushed aside New York’s distinctive modernist heritage and David Childs embraced it in part, Robert Stern has mobilized all its resources to produce a great building that is utterly of our own time while evoking our nostalgic love for the greatness of the past—not of Greece or Rome but the ideal past of our own city as embodied by the suave urbanity of Cole Porter or Fred Astaire and the glamour of the Stork Club or the Rainbow Room. At 15 Central Park West, we are not in Kansas any more—and not in Houston either. This is Gotham.

Perhaps inspired by the full-block Waldorf-Astoria, Stern has divided his vast structure into a 20-story part consistent in height with its Central Park West neighbors and a 43-story tower on the Broadway side of the site, all sheathed sumptuously in limestone from the same quarry that provided the Empire State Building’s stone. The 40-foot-wide space between the two sections gives every major room in the building plenty of light and air, and Stern’s inventiveness turns this ample plot of ground into an amenity. A stone passage, centering on a copper-topped pergola, connects the building’s two sections and divides this space in half. To the north lies a garden with a reflecting pool that serves as a skylight for the swimming pool below; to the south, a gated cour d’honneur with a central fountain, similar to the swanky car entry to the River House on 52nd Street, will let visitors know that they’re arriving somewhere special and exclusive even before they walk through the door at the center of the pergola.

In this part of town, Broadway runs on a diagonal to the city grid, and in a subtly urbane city-planning gesture Stern has aligned the tower on the Broadway side of the site with the grid rather than the street. An asymmetrical five-story section of shops, their show windows framed in exquisitely detailed bronze—real, heavy bronze, not Trumpery—fans out from the grid and carries the structure out to Broadway, turning this entire block into a graceful pivot pointing the way from midtown to the Upper West Side.

Part of this building’s fun lies in recognizing its quotes from some of Manhattan’s grandest and most romantic art deco buildings. The elegant neo-baroque shape of the dramatically molded Central Park West door and the Broadway shop windows, for instance, is pure River House, a 1931 building that, before the FDR Drive intervened, boasted a private dock for Harold S. Vanderbilt and other resident yachtsmen. Ditto the stacks of bow windows that impel the eye up to the top of several of Stern’s facades, and the pilasters on the south side, which echo not just the River House but also the doorways of the Empire State Building and John D. Rockefeller’s 740 Park Avenue, as well as the International Magazine Building’s unforgettable columns. Beneath the windows overlooking the park are scalloped decorative panels that invoke the devices that Emery Roth and Irwin Chanin used on their art deco apartments to the north. No one is better at playing this game of spot-the-quote than Stern, dean of the Yale architecture school and lead author of an indispensable five-volume, 5,407-page catalog of New York buildings from 1880 to the present.

Like the great art deco buildings, this one rewards you, as it leads your eye upward through a subtly varied development of windows and embellishments, with something worth seeing. The climax is not a crown but a flamboyant colonnade flanked by a console-shaped buttress and a three-story-high apse, like the bridge of an ocean liner, reminiscent of the colonnaded, bow-windowed crest of 10 Gracie Square and of Rosario Candela’s famous roofline at 1040 Fifth Avenue, once home to Jacqueline Onassis. It’s the ultimate stage set in New York’s theater of ambition. On the terraces of this empyrean realm, one imagines, tycoons in dinner jackets will clink martini glasses with slim girls shimmering in silk and Shalimar, to the tune of Cole Porter’s “You’re the Top.”

This is, to be sure, the architecture of plutocracy. Only moguls like Sandy Weill and Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein or celebrities like Denzel Washington and Sting can afford price tags up to $45 million for such stylish opulence, including a monumental, half-block-long lobby with wine-dark marble door frames and columns, and enormous, classically laid-out apartments whose lofty, light-flooded rooms cry out to be filled with party guests and children. Part of this building’s importance is that enough such buyers want to live in New York again (and on the West Side, at that) to support so ambitious a venture, after decades of decline that began in the Depression, when the Hampshire House stood unfinished and boarded up for five years and when the Alwyn Court, its mortgage foreclosed, cut up its 22 grand apartments into 75 modest ones. Not only do the mega-rich who paid over $2 billion for these 201 new condos want to live in Gotham; they also want to participate in its spectacle. Hence the almost floor-to-ceiling windows, up to 16 feet wide, that look out on the gorgeous panorama of Central Park, which few residents will know was once a dangerous dustbowl, until Mayor Giuliani cleared up its crime and private philanthropy restored its heart-melting magnificence. Few will know that they are part of Gotham’s new golden age—long may it endure.

Famed architecture critic Vincent Scully once asked City Journal readers (Autumn 1994 (http://www.city-journal.org/article01.php?aid=1373)) to consider how much they would like the Guggenheim Museum if it stood in a street of similar structures. Does not the power of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece depend in part on the civility of the urban fabric in which it stands? he asked. Would not several Guggenheims turn the street into a strip? As New York builds again, we should think hard about whether we really want a city of Hearst Towers—or even of Time Warner Centers, which would look very different in a glass-towered city. When another Norman Foster Thing from Outer Space rises 78 stories high on the World Trade Center site, along with the other Houston-style monsters now on the drawing boards of architects loved only by Gotham’s planning mandarins and the almost infallibly wrong Pritzker Prize committee, New Yorkers are likely to respond with a universal Bronx cheer. And if the proposals for redeveloping the Far West Side in a similar style come to fruition, Gotham will cease to be a metropolis primarily of stone skyscrapers in the classical Beaux-Arts and art deco styles and will become a city of glass behemoths that could be anywhere.

For myself, I’ll take Manhattan.

Myron Magnet is the author of The Dream and the Nightmare: The Sixties’ Legacy to the Underclass. He is City Journal’s editor-at-large and was its editor from 1994 through 2006.

ablarc
February 20th, 2008, 11:24 PM
An OK article. Comparing Hearst and Time-Warner, he prefers the latter.

So do I.

Alonzo-ny
February 21st, 2008, 12:35 AM
Elaborate?

BPC
February 21st, 2008, 01:28 AM
"almost infallibly wrong Pritzker Prize committee"

I don't agree with everything in the piece, but he definitely got that one right.