View Full Version : 2 Columbus Circle Redesign - Orginal: Edward Durell Stone - Redesign: Brad Cloepfil

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April 1st, 2003, 06:33 AM
April 1, 2003

A New Look for a 10-Story Oddity


Two Columbus Circle as it is.

Two Columbus Circle as it might be.

Evoking both loom and kiln, the Museum of Arts and Design plans to reclad 2 Columbus Circle — an abandoned work of romantic modernism that has irritated and amused New Yorkers for 39 years — in a scrim of bright terra cotta.

The plan will almost surely set off a contentious public review. Admirers of the original filigreed design by Edward Durell Stone may make one last effort to save the facade, even though the designation committee of the Landmarks Preservation Commission has already declined to nominate the structure.

Under the redesign, daylight would for the first time fill the inside of what is now a nearly windowless building. Slits and openings between the four-inch terra-cotta panels would give museumgoers views of Central Park and allow pedestrians to glimpse the galleries through a diaphanous veil. Vertical glass channels, filled with artwork, would penetrate the 10-story structure.

The redesign, by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture, was presented yesterday to the City Planning Commission, whose approval is required for the sale of 2 Columbus Circle, a city-owned building. The museum, formerly the American Craft Museum, would move there in 2006 from 40 West 53rd Street.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday that Mr. Cloepfil had "come up with a brilliant design that will bring this iconic building back to life and integrate it into the urban fabric of the neighborhood while preserving its unique personality."

Unlike preservation battles in which venerable landmarks are defended from replacement by mediocrities, this debate will concern functional improvements to a structure about which even admirers confess ambivalence, reaching for words like zany, whimsical, kitschy, kooky and quirky to describe it.

"The way this building will be successful is as a new work of architecture," said Laurie Beckelman, a former chairwoman of the landmarks commission who directs the building program for the museum.

Holly Hotchner, the museum director, said the choice of a facade made of clay, fired into a warp-and-weft pattern in terra cotta, "speaks to who we are" — an institution concerned with material and craft.

A spectral memory of Stone's building, though not its specific imagery of circles and arches, will be embodied in the redesign. "At one level," Mr. Cloepfil said, "we are trying to maintain its monumentality, but at the same time make it a more ephemeral body, so it begins to merge with Columbus Circle."

Though the size and shape of 2 Columbus Circle would not change — most notably the concave north wall, which follows the circle's arc — it would lose its filigreelike portholes, sidewalk arcade lined in lollipop-shaped columns, two-story upper loggia and white marble cladding, which is in such a sorry state of repair that a protective sidewalk bridge has had to be erected.

Behind the terra-cotta panels would be glass-enclosed openings of varied dimensions, some as high as 70 feet. Holes would be opened through the floors to create uninterrupted interior glass columns, three or four feet square, that would be filled with artworks.

In another gesture to unify the building vertically, a processional staircase would be built on the Broadway side of the building, linking the six public floors.

Stone's unusual interior design, in which galleries are stepped around the elevator core at half-story intervals, would be eliminated. Each of the 3,650-square-foot floors would then be on a single level. Above the galleries would be classrooms, studios, offices and a restaurant.

The 155-seat Mark Goodson Theater in the basement would be left largely intact.

Two Columbus Circle opened in 1964 as the Gallery of Modern Art. It was built by Huntington Hartford, heir to the A.&P. supermarket fortune, to house his own collection and serve as a bulwark in his passionate fight against abstract art.

"It will last for generations to come," Stone predicted when he unveiled his design. As it happened, the gallery lasted five years.

Fairleigh Dickinson University took over in 1969 and ran the building until 1975 as the New York Cultural Center, where art exhibitions were held. The city then used it as a visitors center and headquarters for the Cultural Affairs Department. The agency moved out in 1998; the space has since been vacant.

Last year the building was awarded to the museum by the city Economic Development Corporation. The museum estimates that it will cost $50 million to acquire the property and renovate the building. Though Ms. Hotchner would not break down the costs, she said the city would allow the museum to defer much of the acquisition payment until 2008 and thereafter.

The preservation fight would probably be led by the Landmark West group on the West Side. "While we look forward to the building's reuse, we believe it is incumbent on the city to exercise caution and treat Stone's design with the respect it deserves," the group said last week.

Landmark West and the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects sponsored a panel discussion in February on the building.

"This is almost like an architectural folly," said Thomas Mellins, an architectural historian who moderated the panel. "Do we need quirky folly to have the overall texture be rich and vital in the city? Or can we live without it?"

Folly or not, Theodore H. M. Prudon, president of the Docomomo U.S. preservation group, said it was a "very significant building by a very significant architect."

Billie Tsien, who designed the new American Folk Art Museum at 45 West 53rd Street with Tod Williams, allowed that 2 Columbus Circle had "good bones" but said it was a "very, very problematic building to be a gallery space."

She praised the choice of Mr. Cloepfil to redesign the building, though she had yet to see his proposal. "It's very hard for me to sort of prejudge something that I don't know and say that this building must remain as it is," Ms. Tsien said. "Because if it remains as it is, it's a dead building."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

April 1st, 2003, 07:59 AM
Let's see.....


I think its better...

Just Rich
April 1st, 2003, 09:23 AM
I agree with the fact that there is room in the city for some "quirky" buildings, but in the end it has to be a building that is useable. *If no one inhabits it, it must be changed.

April 1st, 2003, 10:45 AM
I just don't like a building w/o windows - odd, not "livable."

The new version is clean, more modern, and will complement AOL quite nicely.

April 1st, 2003, 11:15 AM
I can't gather much from the rendering. *

I think I will miss the building; Though definitely not a successful design, it's the eppitome of the values of 1960's American modernism for me --trying to add a touch of class and gravitas (and getting the opposite result) by incorporating monumentality, fine materials (the marble is beauitiful, and I understand the interior had beauiful wood panneling), and historicism (Are we ever going to see again an attempt a proto-Venetian modernism?). *I wasn't alive then, but it makes me think of American embassies, Lincoln Center (which is in danger of being "updated" too), The World's Fair, JFK, the Cold War, the Space Race, The Jet Set, etc.

I wish they could just pack it up and move it to Flushing Meadows. *It would be perfect opposite the Unisphere. *Who's with me?

April 1st, 2003, 11:48 AM
it's a remarkable building (love the marble facade) and it should not be touched,

make it "usable" on the inside, otherwise leave it as it is

April 1st, 2003, 12:15 PM
Quote: from dbhstockton on 11:15 am on April 1, 2003
I can't gather much from the rendering. *

I think I will miss the building; Though definitely not a successful design, it's the eppitome of the values of 1960's American modernism for me --trying to add a touch of class and gravitas (and getting the opposite result) by incorporating monumentality, fine materials (the marble is beauitiful, and I understand the interior had beauiful wood panneling), and historicism (Are we ever going to see again an attempt a proto-Venetian modernism?). *I wasn't alive then, but it makes me think of American embassies, Lincoln Center (which is in danger of being "updated" too), The World's Fair, JFK, the Cold War, the Space Race, The Jet Set, etc.

I wish they could just pack it up and move it to Flushing Meadows. *It would be perfect opposite the Unisphere. *Who's with me?

I am.

1964 World's Fair RCA pavilion

April 1st, 2003, 02:56 PM
I must admit, I too will miss it. The 60's had a huge influence in this area, this is by far not the worst of it. Preserve this, not to forget the era in architecture, its value isnt timeless but classic of that time.

(Edited by Stern at 2:58 pm on April 1, 2003)

April 1st, 2003, 03:10 PM
Zippy, that pavillion looks like the bastard son of FL wright's Guggenheim and a vintage roadside motel, complete with the marquis advertising "color tv." *Perfect.

TLOZ Link5
April 1st, 2003, 04:32 PM
Stone was drummed out of the Internationalist ranks for daring to design this building. *The city had been planning to demolish it to build a plaza or small park (which is very redundant considering that it's right next to both the Circle and Central Park). *Stone later built the General Motors Building in 1968, with Emery Roth as the associate architects.

In my opinion, 2 Columbus Circle marks a milestone in architecture; it was essentially the first instance of deviation from the Internationalist mantra in a major building. *However, IMHO it's not very contextual with the Circle's redevelopment. *I'm not certain as to what should be done with this building; I could certainly go either way.

April 1st, 2003, 05:19 PM
I'm on board with those who wish they could move this building to Retro World and fill it with girls wearing Jackie Kennedy clothes. I'd hate to see it gone forever, even if what will replace it looks better. Then again, I don't think strongly enough about its preservation to actively protest it. The face of New York is constantly changing.

April 1st, 2003, 08:52 PM
What bothers me the most is that a pre-modernist building of comparable importance would have probably received landmark status. Preservationists tend to have an anti-modernist bias (and save insignificant architecture because some historic figure happened to live in it for a period of time). I think it would be preferable to either restore it or build an entirely new building, but the decision may be influenced by financial constraints.

The redesign's openness to the street might contribute to the urban theatre but I find the rendering unappealing.

April 1st, 2003, 09:30 PM
The problem with the old building is that it seems so confining because it has so few windows.

April 1st, 2003, 10:21 PM
It was a gallery; windows would have caused problems for displaying the art. *It had the distinctive "loggia" on top for those who wished to enjoy the views of the park. *I like the blank expanse of fine masonry. *Architects in the 60's did not have the modern-day "horror vacuii" that afflicts NY today (I'm sorry if you have to look that up). *

April 2nd, 2003, 12:36 AM
The building is alright, I would say keep it if it was in a different location. It just doesn't look good where it is, it's location is too prominent.

April 2nd, 2003, 06:31 AM
The building has few friends. It doesn't fit in with the new Columbus Circle. AOL-TW doesn't want it's residents to be subjected to this "eyesore." Even Landmarks ran away, and right now they're considering the meat district.

April 2nd, 2003, 10:49 AM
Yes, the building was original. *But originality doesn't equal beauty, need for preservation, or even sensibility. *This building wasn't loved, and proved a failure. *Its void, windowless expanse doesn't serve the surrounding community and cannot support a gallery in its present state. *I applaud the changes, and hope they truly change it. *

April 2nd, 2003, 03:38 PM
We definitely need a better rendering, I'm not yet convinced that there is much of an improvement. Looks sort of dull.

April 2nd, 2003, 04:14 PM
I'm not pleased with this rendering either. *At such a prominent site, it should have more achitectonic interest, not just a flashy skin.

April 2nd, 2003, 06:01 PM
I pulled these images from Allied Works

Model - day

Model - night

Rendering - day

Rendering - night


Conceptual rendering - glass columns


April 2nd, 2003, 06:07 PM

Museum of Arts & Design to Get New Home


NEW YORK -- Plans for the Museum of Arts & Design's new home were unveiled Wednesday, a design that aims to turn a vacant, city-owned building into a dynamic cultural center on Columbus Circle.

The museum, which was formerly called the American Craft Museum, is currently located in midtown Manhattan on West 53rd Street. The move to 2 Columbus Circle is planned for the museum's 50th anniversary in 2006 and will increase its exhibition space fourfold, according to museum director Holly Hotchner.

As it stands today, the building -- designed in 1964 by Edward Durrell Stone -- has few windows. But the redesign calls for numerous windows and slits. Lightly colored terra-cotta panels on the facade would allow natural light to filter into the building.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, announcing the new alterations at a City Hall news conference, praised architect Brad Cloepfil, saying he had "come up with a brilliant design that will integrate this building back into the urban fabric of the neighborhood while preserving its unique personality."

The Museum of Arts & Design, which collects and exhibits contemporary objects created in such media as clay, glass, wood, metal and fiber, plans to buy the building from the city for $17 million. The City Planning Commission must approve the sale.

The new Columbus Circle site originally housed the Huntington Hartford Gallery of Contemporary Art. In 1976, Gulf & Western Industries purchased the building and gave it to the city to serve as a visitor center and headquarters for the Department of Cultural Affairs. It has been vacant since the agency moved out in 1998.

April 2nd, 2003, 07:56 PM
Museum of Arts and Design; 2 Columbus Circle

Following an international competition, Allied Works Architecture was selected as the architect for the Museum of Arts and Design, a collecting and teaching institution dedicated to the study and advancement of contemporary craft. The museum will occupy and revitalise the building at Two Columbus Circle in New York, formerly the Gallery of Modern Art, design in the early 1960's for Huntington Hartford, a notable patron of the arts.

The project poses many challenges for the designer due to the compact site and significance of the existing structure. It possesses an even greater potential to become an active and engaging cultural landmark within the city and beyond.

Our strategy seeks to reveal this potential through a process of intense research and study, bringing new vision and life to the project while preserving that which gives the building its iconic presence. The proposed alterations will reconnect the building with its remarkable site, and respond to the specific requirements of the new institution, resulting in a new public realm. An American civic space, not exclusive or symbolic, but deeply rooted in its place and purpose.

At the same time that the building and its programs serve as a catalyst for intellectual and urban activity, the experience of the new space can provide a sense of calm. The architecture can provide an interval for the individual, the distance to reflect on craft and its role in our culture.


April 2nd, 2003, 09:38 PM
I'm dying to know what this place looks like on the inside-- does anyone have any old photos / brochures from when it was a museum?

I always thought it was some kind of telco hotel, but now that I know that it's an international sore thumb I'm fascinated!

April 4th, 2003, 06:20 PM
oooh nice! I'm going to post this at skyscrapercity.

April 7th, 2003, 07:21 PM

April 21st, 2003, 11:22 AM


April 21st, 2003, 11:32 AM
If you can believe the renderings, its a huge improvement.

April 21st, 2003, 11:38 AM
I suppose, but I'm still reluctant to accept it.

April 21st, 2003, 11:39 AM
Reinventing a Landmark: Museum of Arts & Design by Allied Works Architecture

New York City: Adored and reviled, misused and unused for years, 2 Columbus Circle is about to get a new lease on life - and an entirely new look. Is it the birth or death of a landmark?

by Kristen Richards

April 7, 2003

Two Columbus Circle, designed by Edward Durell Stone in 1964, has not led a very charmed life. It served its original purpose – as home to the Huntington Hartford Gallery of Contemporary Art – for only five years. Between 1969 and 1998, it didn’t fare much better as Fairleigh Dickinson University’s New York Cultural Center or as a visitor center and headquarters for the New York City Cultural Affairs Department. In it’s final incarnation (before fences went up) the “lollipop”-columned arcade was as an unofficial homeless shelter.

In June 2002, the Museum of Arts & Design (formerly American Craft Museum) won out over other development proposals for the site. The museum held a design competition that resulted in Portland, Oregon-based Allied Works Architecture being named the winner (the shortlist included Zaha Hadid, Toshiko Mori Architect, and Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects).

Then the debate about the building’s fate really started to heat up: Is Stone’s “folly” on the edge of Central Park an architectural treasure worthy of preservation, or is it an eyesore – a windowless white elephant wasting valuable space? (Ada Louise Huxtable called it "a die-cut Venetian palazzo on lollipops." ) In February, more than 300 people attended a spirited roundtable discussion among knowledgeable champions from both camps: Kurt Andersen, novelist and host of Studio 360; Reed Kroloff, architecture critic and former Editor-in-Chief, Architecture magazine; Theodore HM Prudon, FAIA, architect and President, DOCOMOMO US; and Billie Tsien, AIA, Principal, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. Robert A.M. Stern, who was also scheduled to be on the panel, but was unable to attend, sent a statement that included: “It's unabashedly decorative, whimsical – one might even say zany. Nonetheless it is very important and it is important that we save it.” To read the (unedited) transcript of the very lively dialogue, the Q&A that followed, and Stern’s complete statement, click At the Crossroads: 2 Columbus Circle (http://www.preserve.org/lmwest/2ccpanel.htm). Landmark West! (which is continuing its efforts to preserve the building), the Center for Architecture, and the AIA New York Chapter sponsored the event.

The debate seems to be moot at this point. The building’s looks – and luck – are in for big changes over the next few years. Last week, the Museum of Arts & Design (MAD) announced two major private gifts totaling $22 million that brings the project past the halfway mark in a $50 million Capital Campaign for the new building program. At the same time, the museum released renderings of Allied Architects’ design for the crescent-shaped structure that borders Manhattan’s only traffic circle. Construction is expected to be underway by spring/summer 2004.

The museum’s new home is more than three times the size of its current location on West 53 Street – and will increase exhibition space fourfold. The Columbus Circle facility will accommodate a new Arts & Education Center, a full-service education facility with classrooms and studios for Master Classes, Artists in Residence, and Open Studio programs. Programming will also include a greater range of lectures, seminars, decorative arts and design history courses, and workshops.

“The scale, massing, and textured façade of the building are important qualitative elements that contribute to its humane character,” notes Brad Cloepfil, Principal of Allied Works Architecture. “In this pivotal location, it is essential that 2 Columbus Circle engage its surroundings, the Park, the neighborhood, and the street life that gives New York its character – therefore the building is permeable, fostering a dialogue between the interior of the museum and its urban environment.” Pivotal location is right. The museum’s new neighborhood includes the soaring AOL/Time Warner Center currently under construction, the 52-story, bronze glass-clad Trump International Hotel & Tower, and a grand entrance to Central Park.

The design features a series of glass columns that will run through the 10-story, 54,000-square-foot building, providing dramatic spaces to present art work from the museum’s collections and allowing natural light to filter into the galleries. The art-bearing columns will connect the floors and programmatic areas both physically and conceptually. Art will be visible at the street level and become part of public life in Columbus Circle, inviting people inside to view MAD’s notable permanent collection and special exhibitions. In several places, the transparent columns are aligned with the building’s exterior, so the art objects on display will also become an integral part of the building’s façade.

The façade will feature a combination of windows and lightly colored, 40-inch-by-15-inch terracotta panels that read as a solid, sculptural, “woven” elements from a distance, yet are permeable. They will glow from within at night and filter natural light into the building during the day. The interplay of alternating solids and voids will transform the exterior into an abstract geometric pattern that will subtly change appearance with the sweep of the sun throughout the day.

The entire ground floor will be encircled in glass, erasing the boundary between interior and exterior – the building will seem to float in space. A restaurant and lounge on the ninth floor will offer dramatic views of the city and Central Park. A vertical window running along a staircase between the first and sixth floors in the northeast corner, along with other openings in different areas of the façade, will also provide changing vistas of the cityscape.

An existing 155-seat auditorium and theater will be renovated and used for cultural events in collaboration with some of New York City’s leading performing and visual arts organizations. Plans also include an International Center for the Study of Arts & Design that will link electronic media and information technologies and three-dimensional hand made objects. An expanded museum store on the ground floor will be stocked with interesting and unusual handcrafted objects from over 1,400 artists.

“Because of the idiosyncratic design of the building and interior gallery spaces, 2 Columbus Circle hasn’t worked successfully as a welcoming, accessible museum in which to view art,” says Laurie Beckelman, Director of the Museum’s New Building Program and former Commissioner and Chair of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. “It is time to bring this building back into use for the community, creatively recast the interior galleries, and open the building physically and visually to the city and Central Park. With the development of the AOL/Time Warner Center, next to other dark, glass-clad high rise buildings in the area, it is now more important than ever to create a living counterpoint to these soaring giants.”

Based in Portland, Oregon, Allied Works Architecture was founded by Brad Cloepfil in 1994. The firm has completed a number of important cultural and educational projects throughout the United States, as well numerous private residences. The redevelopment of 2 Columbus Circle will be Cloepfil’s first institutional commission in New York City. *

The firm received critical acclaim for its design of the new Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis, slated to open in the fall of 2003 and located on a site adjacent to Tadao Ando’s new Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, and the Wieden + Kennedy Agency headquarters in Portland, OR, which also houses the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. Cloepfil’s team is working on the design for the expansion of the Seattle Art Museum, a building by Venturi Scott Brown & Associates located in downtown Seattle. In addition, pre-design has commenced on the $40 million Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas next to a building by Renzo Piano.

© 2003 ArchNewsNow.com

October 12th, 2003, 07:37 PM
Thanks to JD.

October 12, 2003


The Building That Isn't There


Does the municipal log duly show that Brad Cloepfil, the architect about to transform Edward Durell Stone's historic white marble Huntington Hartford museum on Columbus Circle, means to render it "more ephemeral?"

"Ephemeral" is Architect Cloepfil's own word, I hasten to add, as in here today and gone tomorrow, and the nouveau-named Museum of Arts and Design, originally the homely old dosey-doe American Craft Museum, now on West 53rd Street, is busy raising more than $50 million to have him do it.

The average savant might assume Architect Cloepfil (rhymes with "hopeful") was trying to say "ethereal" or perhaps "inimitable" when his tongue slipped to "ephemeral"; but the average savant avoids the coherently challenged theoryspeak of contemporary architecture like a brain-invading computer virus — and is therefore unlikely to know that Ephemeralism was once (1994) This Year's Architectural Style of the Century. There were countless This Year's Styles of the Century from 1950 to 2000: the New Brutalism, the New Minimalism, Deconstructivism, Conceptualism, Contexturalism, Rationalism, three kinds of Postmodernism (White, Gray and Silver) and on and on. But I will mention only a couple that had succeeded Ephemeralism before the century was even over: Blobism and Infrastructuralism.

Ephemeralism's big moment arrived in 1994 with Jean Nouvel's Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art in Paris. Well outside the real glass walls, Mr. Nouvel, a French architect, put other glass walls that extended beyond the building and were meant to create disorienting reflections and general confusion as to where the museum itself really was, thereby "dematerializing" it (Mr. Nouvel's favorite word at the time) and making it difficult for what theoryspeakers call "the dominant regime" to find. I could try to tell you why this is an important goal, but it would make your head hurt as much as mine.

In due course, Ephemeralism embraced 1) transparency — using plain glass walls or, preferably, confusing layers of glass like Mr. Nouvel's; 2) voyeurism — people outside on the street observing what people are doing inside and vice versa; and 3) branding — making the exterior design remind you of the enterprise within. All this was supposed to return architecture to a certain messianic moment, to the original vision of Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier — the White Gods!

Our story of Brad Cloepfil and Edward Durell Stone and Stone's museum at 2 Columbus Circle is a modern-day, Oct. 12, 2003, parable of a curious religion — literally that, a religion — that has determined the look of major public buildings throughout the United States for the past 60-odd years. It is a story of believers and an infidel . . . and of where the faithful will go from here.

How the two Germans, Gropius and Mies van der Rohe, arrived as refugees in the early 1930's . . . how they found both faculty and students at all the major architecture schools in the United States prostrate before them in awe and homage (Harvard immediately made Gropius head of its architecture school) like Bruce Cabot and Myrna Loy crash-landing in the jungle in a 1930's movie and emerging dizzily from the wreckage in their white jodhpurs and black Vogel riding boots . . . to find the natives down on their knees worshiping them — White Gods! Come from sky! — and how the faith known as the International Style entered young architects' very bones, not metaphorically but precisely the way another faith enters the very bones of upland foot-washing Baptists at age 4 . . . and how by 1945 the architects, literally, not metaphorically, were converts, one and all, veritable zealots, who spoke with such evangelical fervor in theoryspeak that even the chief executives of the mightiest corporations gave up, caved in and signed off on towering glass boxes they personally hated . . . is a well-known story . . . as well known as the White Gods' First Commandment, namely, that all buildings, great and small, must be made bourgeois-proof in the name of the Working Class . . . meaning no precious materials, such as marble — and white marble was the worst — only glass, steel, concrete and plaster . . . no applied decorations, such as crown (monarchy!) moldings . . . and no "pretty" colors, only white, black and gray.

Less well known is the story of how by 1960 this business of turning out correct glass box after correct glass box began to bore even the most profoundly religious architects . . . and how there ensued a frenzied attempt to come up with a style that looked different but broke none of the holy trinity's commandments . . . resulting in the Tower of Babelish babble-gaggle of isms I've mentioned.

Ephemeralism in this country was in no small part the result of a pronunciamento by one of the Three Gods' latter-day saints, Prof. Colin Rowe of Cornell. In a coherently challenged tour de force in the 1990's, he went up a steep slope at the Greek Peak Ski Resort, east of Ithaca, and came down with a tablet titled "Transparency: Literal and Phenomenal." It revealed that the gods had foreseen a future in which the Second Commandment, concerning transparency, would embrace far more than the simple transparency of glass.

Now we can understand the deeply faith-based orthodoxy of Architect Cloepfil's plans for dematerializing Stone's white marble museum. The marble will be removed and carted off somewhere, very likely New Jersey, to be fed as landfill to the mucky maw of the Jersey marshes, at a cost of millions. The marble walls will be replaced by, one scarcely need add, glass walls. In place in front of the glass walls, explained Holly Hotchner, director of the Museum Formerly Known as Craft, at a press conference on April 2, with a beaming Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg standing by, will be curtain walls, top to bottom and all around. The curtains walls, known as "scrims," "veils" or "layers" in theoryspeak, will be made of panels of perforated glazed terra cotta, probably 18-or-so inches from the glass walls. The perforations in the terra cotta will offer peekaboo voyeurism. At intervals will be wide glass "columns," so-called, but rectangular, flush with the plane of the curtain walls. They will offer the voyeurs outside the full Monty, a direct look at what's going on inside.

In 2006, when it is completed, we will see the Platonic ideal of plain transparency, confusing transparency, peekaboo voyeurism, I-see-you voyeurism and hide-and-seek deception of the dominant regime. Not only that, the clay terra cotta and the perforations in it will create a woven, textured effect, according to Director Hotchner. The clay and the more-or-less woven look will brand the Museum Formerly Known as Craft as the City Mouse heir to the Country Mouse's trove of hand-thrown, hand-painted, hand-glazed, home-baked clay pots and purposely woozy loosely loopy home-loomed fabrics.

Architect Cloepfil himself says that "it is essential that 2 Columbus Circle engage its surroundings . . . therefore the building is permeable, fostering a dialogue between the interior of the museum and its urban environment." He says it will "merge" with the rest of Columbus Circle.

Here we are faced with another coherently challenged goal. There are many who cry out that Stone's white marble building should be preserved as a historic landmark and many who would just as soon see it go. But both sides agree on one thing: "its urban environment" is gross. "Its surroundings," the buildings beside, behind and across from Stone's museum, make Columbus Circle, minus the museum, look like the Downtown Renaissance of some decaying midsize Rust Belt city from which the factories have decamped to Mexico and the retailers have fled to the malls.

In a Downtown Renaissance the terminally weary buildings left stranded downtown get "revitalized" by a couple of new, ludicrously colossal glass-box towers done in the 1950's Modern mode . . . such as Columbus Circle's Trump International Hotel and Tower, originally the Gulf & Western tower, and the soon-to-be-completed Time Warner complex.

So many roadways cut into and right through the Circle itself, the marble statue of Christopher Columbus out in the middle looks like a stranded pedestrian who has shimmied up a 77-foot pole to keep from getting killed and is waiting for the marble people lounging about the base of the Maine Memorial at the southwest entrance to Central Park — Courage, Peace, Fortitude and Justice, by name — to come rescue him.

So if that is what Architect Cloepfil and the Museum of Arts and Design want their brainchild to "merge" with and have a "dialogue" with (a favorite coherently challenged theoryspeak term — nobody ever reports what the "environment" said), they might want to brace themselves for an earful and a half. Our average savant would shake his head and say to himself: they plan to spend more than $50 million to create a "permeable" now-you-see-it, now-you-don't building so one can at last observe, without distraction, a miserable Gehenna no dominant regime, if such existed outside of theoryspeak, would put up with for 10 minutes.

As soon as the museum was on the market in 1975 (we will see why in the next installment), the people at Gulf & Western, whose office tower was across the Circle from it, snapped it up. It was useless to them as a commercial property, because the block it fills up is a tiny island the shape of a fingernail clipping, with prohibitive height restrictions. It seems they bought it, according to the American Institute of Architects Guide to New York City, solely because its sleek, radiant, monumental white marble facade "shows off well when seen from the north, on Broadway, gleaming among larger, darker structures" — and made the office space G & W was leasing out with views of the otherwise Low Rent, Room to Let Circle far more valuable. G & W then granted the city use of Stone's building as a visitors center, rent free, with the strict proviso that it not be altered in any way.

Huntington Hartford was a man in his late 40's who had inherited $70 million, much of it directly from his father, a shock-absorber inventor. Mr. Hartford despised the Museum of Modern Art and its championing of abstract art, especially Abstract Expressionism. His passion was literally religious, too, but his religion was the church kind. Mr. Hartford believed abstract art mocked God. So he decided to thrust a gleaming Cross into the very face of the Devil in the form of a Gallery of Modern Art at 2 Columbus Circle, a museum showing the world modernists who worked in the representational mode, from the Pre-Raphaelites to Gauguin to the dazzling and, in his view, spiritually uplifting Salvador Dali.

Mr. Hartford chose Stone as architect . . . and smacked his lips over the poetic justice of it. This was the very same Edward Durell Stone who had been the architect, along with Philip Goodwin, of the Museum of Modern Art 25 years earlier!

At the time, back in the 1930's, Stone had been among the handful of prominent American International Style architects. He had designed one of the first International Style houses on the East Coast, the Mandel House (1933) in Mount Kisco, N.Y. His International Style house for the Museum of Modern Art's president, A. Conger Goodyear of the Goodyear Goodyears, would later be designated a World Monument by the World Monuments Fund.

Then, in the 1950's — bango! — Stone defected without warning from the International Style in a big way: he created the sinfully luxurious American Embassy in New Delhi, with its gold-leafed steel columns, its facade of concrete and marble terrazzo grillwork to temper the equatorial sunlight, and a picturesque water garden to provide a cooling view. To International Style Modernists, the use of luxurious materials like marble and gold and Taj Mahal-style grilles symbolized the dominant regime, the accursed bourgeois capitalists, lording it over the masses; and the less said about picturesque water gardens the better.

But the dismay over Stone's embassy was nothing compared to the furor over his museum for the "reactionary" Huntington Hartford. The whole damned building was marble! White marble — up and down and all the way around! "A pot of paint flung in the face of the high Modernist establishment," as Robert A. M. Stern would put it later when he became dean of Yale's School of Architecture.

More of Stone's damnable Taj Mahal grillwork, it seemed, ran up the corners of the building and across the top of the facade. And the arches! — whole rows of them framed loggias near the top of the building and made orthodox Modernists grind their teeth and think of Venetian palaces . . . owned by the merchant kings. And the columns! — white marble columns of a bizarre (i.e., new) shape inset with dark marble discs . . . must be Moorish or something.

Above all, there was the facade, which scrupulously followed the curve of the Circle. Stone had rejected steel construction in favor of poured reinforced concrete and its plastic, sculptural qualities in order to do it. The gods of the International Style, Corbusier, Mies and Gropius, shuddered. They countenanced only steel-beam construction with simple, honest Working Class right angles.

Inside the museum was 10 stories worth of heresy. Instead of the International Style's mandatory plain white gallery walls, Mr. Hartford's galleries were veneered in two notoriously expensive dark woods, macassar ebony and walnut, with bronze trim. Instead of bare, Worker Gray factory-style floors, Mr. Hartford's had expensive marble inlays, hardwood parquet de Versailles, gold area rugs and red carpet.

Stone and Mr. Hartford knew they were in for howls of outrage and wouldn't have been happy if they heard none. But as for the thermomedia blast about to flatten them — they hadn't a clue.

Tom Wolfe is author, most recently, of ‘‘A Man in Full.’’

This article is the first of two installments.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

October 13th, 2003, 12:55 AM
October 13, 2003


The Building That Isn't There, Cont'd


The exterior of 2 Columbus Circle.

Oh, they had thrown a regular fit before, hadn't they, they being the critics and the architecture scholars and the rest of the International Style crowd, over his American Embassy building in New Delhi. But once they got through their yawping and muttering over the marble, the gold, the water garden, the maharajah grillwork, etc., the name Edward Durell Stone was bigger than ever. It stood for imagination, daring, aloofness from the whole cult-programmed bunch of them.

They might — in fact, they surely would — throw another fit over his new museum for Huntington Hartford . . . the tons of white marble, the precious wood veneers, the gold rugs, the red carpets, etc. At the same time, they would also surely have to deprogram themselves long enough to give credit for genius where genius deserved it. They weren't crazy, after all . . .

Take the red carpets, for example. They played an integral role in one of the most ingenious pieces of engineering ever attempted in a building that tall, 10 stories. Stone had divided the galleries into split levels connected by short, luxuriously wide flights of red-carpeted stairs, creating a grand central staircase with the galleries themselves serving as the landings. Any ambulatory person could walk from the ground floor to the topmost gallery, looking at pictures the whole way, without even realizing he'd done it. Not even Frank Lloyd Wright's spectacular spiral ramp in the Guggenheim Museum could compare in originality or function.

Today there is scarcely a living soul under the age of 60 who ever set foot in the Gallery of Modern Art during the time Mr. Hartford owned it . . . or has any idea of what it was once like . . . other than from the radioactive contamination remaining from the attacks upon the museum launched even before it opened in March of 1964. If there was a single major critic that year who was not a messenger girl for International Style orthodoxy, I never read her.

The critic who inflicted the cut that keeps on bleeding was Ada Louise Huxtable, architecture critic for The New York Times, with the never-to-this-day-forgotten comment that Mr. Hartford's museum reminded her of "a die-cut Venetian palazzo on lollipops." The "lollipops" referred specifically to the columns and their inset dark-marble discs, but the quip had le tout New York sniggering over the entire building.

The truth is, the columns constitute a highly sophisticated repetition of the arches of the loggias up above in the form of both solids (the black marble discs) and voids (the arched spaces between columns) down below. The student of architecture might wish to go over to Columbus Circle and take a look at the virtuosity of this extraordinary interplay of positive and negative space before it is destroyed.

The museum's often-derided "Islamic grillwork" is not grillwork at all but rows of portholes letting in light at the corners. The building contained no applied decoration . . . not even Stone, the avowed apostate, could get the old-time religion completely out of his bones in launching this, the first revolt by any established Modernist, against the icy grip of the French and German International Style orthodoxy.

But none of that mattered. The damnable lollipops gibe just wouldn't get tired and go away. In fact, while researching this article, I went into a library, and the first librarian I spoke to said, "Oh yes, the lollipop building."

As a going enterprise, Mr. Hartford's Gallery of Modern Art lasted only five years. The storm of derision in the press was a killer. Worse, no big donors were going to come forth to help him keep it going. Mr. Hartford was a good-looking, well-brought-up rich boy who had a reputation for big woolly projects that never panned out. He didn't fit anywhere in the New York network of corporate moguls who underwrite and climb such approved social ladders as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art or even the Whitney Museum of American Art, which is, hmmmm, a bit sketchy. Without big donors, those institutions couldn't stay open 30 minutes — and the Gallery of Modern Art, thanks to the press, was beyond sketchy. Carrying the museum all by himself quickly became too much for Huntington Hartford. In 1969, he gave this historic masterpiece to Fairleigh Dickinson University, just to get out from under the load.

"Historic masterpiece." Here I take as my text Dean Stern. On this point, too, both sides will agree: Robert A. M. Stern is not only a noted architect but also the definitive historian of 20th-century New York City architecture. His Gibbon-scale trilogy, "New York 1900," "New York 1930" and "New York 1960," is a sweeping but rigorously scholarly 2,684-page study of the city's architecture from 1890 to 1976.

In a letter in February to a civic organization's panel on whether 2 Columbus Circle should be declared a landmark, he wrote: "No one will disagree that Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum is a masterpiece, though a highly idiosyncratic one, to say the least . . . I bring up the Guggenheim because there was a strong, mutually acknowledged kinship between Frank Lloyd Wright and Edward Durell Stone, whom many thought was the master's leading disciple."

Mr. Stern went on to characterize the museum as one of Stone's "masterworks," along with the embassy in New Delhi and Stone's own town house on East 64th Street in New York, whose entire facade was grillwork.

Lever House and the Seagram Building "represent the epitome of the correct, the orthodox in postwar Modernism," said Mr. Stern, while Stone's Huntington Hartford museum "pushed the envelope very far toward what would become Postmodernism. This building is a landmark in the history of architectural taste." He closed with an appeal: "Preserve this landmark whole. Preserve this public provocation, this embodiment of artistic risk-taking."

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission preserved Stone's own town house, by landmarking it years ago, but refuses, despite constant appeals, to so much as hold a hearing on the museum. From the day the museum became eligible for landmark status in 1994, the commission's behavior puzzled me and many others. Naïvely, as it turned out, I had been thinking of landmark status in aesthetic and historical terms. The game proved to be about something else entirely.

In the hog-eat-hog economy of the 1990's, big porkers kept getting eaten up by bigger ones, and Gulf & Western, the first commercial buyer of the museum after Mr. Hartford's financial troubles, disappeared down the gullet of Viacom, and Viacom gave the building to the city in 1994 in return for tax breaks.

The landmarks commission seemed to be getting a clear message from City Hall: lay off 2 Columbus Circle.

The city envisioned a bidding war. It would sell the property for hundreds of millions to a developer and on top of that wind up with a big corporate taxpayer or two on the Department of Finance hard drive. From that day on, every time the question of a hearing on 2 Columbus Circle came up, the landmarks commissioners, as I see it, dove under their desks, clapped their hands over their ears, cried out to their secretaries to shove history and the concept of landmarks preservation itself through the shredder, and hid.

The fantastic bidding war, however, never occurred. By November of 1998 there were only two interested parties, Donald Trump, who wanted to demolish the museum and build something new, and the Dahesh Museum, which wanted a home for its collection of 19th-century academic art. Then Mr. Trump pulled out. The city's dreams of a tax-paying bonanza were over.

At this point the American Craft Museum moved in to challenge the Dahesh. Being far better connected politically, with a former chairwoman of the landmarks commission, Laurie Beckelman, on the payroll, the craft museum renamed itself the Museum of Arts and Design and flicked the Dahesh aside like a dead Taiwanese watch battery. In came Architect Brad Cloepfil and Ephemeralism — which brings us to where we are today, awaiting, unless the plans change drastically, the first example of the old peekaboo, I-see-you-game ever built on Columbus Circle.

Soon, during the next few days, weeks, months at the most, an appalling smack will be heard throughout New York. It will not be hostile fire. It will be the sound of the landmarks commissioners hitting the deck once more . . . while one of the most important buildings in the history of 20th-century architecture is vaporized and small urban creatures sniff the stench that's left in the air.

Well . . . one can always hope the Museum of Arts and Design's retro trek back to Ephemeralism will be "fun" at least:

In yesterday's polluted air
I saw a museum that wasn't there.
It wasn't there again today.
O how I wish it would go away.

Postscript: It so happens Stone had a vision for the Circle itself that was never realized. He wanted to eliminate the traffic lanes that ran through it, make it whole again and ring the outer edge with three-story-high Doric columns salvaged from the Seventh Avenue facade of Pennsylvania Station, whose demolition had begun barely four months before the Gallery of Modern Art was completed. He had two things in mind: creating a proper stage for the towering monument to Christopher Columbus at the center — and a proper memorial for Penn Station, a masterpiece of New York architecture by the great architects McKim, Mead & White, that had been sold to the highest bidder and destroyed, columns and all, and fed to the Jersey marshes in a senseless but innocent-by-reason-of-uncontrollable-cupidity act of vandalism.

The what-have-we-done shock that followed led directly to the creation of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1965. As the French say: "Après la mort le médecin." After death, the doctor shows up.

The architect Brad Cloepfil in his office at Allied Works Architecture in Portland, Ore., on Dec. 3, 2002.

Tom Wolfe is author of "A Man in Full."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

October 15th, 2003, 12:34 AM
October 15, 2003

What a Building Says About Us (6 Letters)

To the Editor:

Re "The Building That Isn't There," by Tom Wolfe (Op-Ed, Oct. 12 and 13):

Having read "From Bauhaus to Our House" 20 years ago, I was pleased to see that Tom Wolfe is still keeping an eye on architecture.

The glass-box towers that dominate the skyline of most United States cities have more to say about our culture than we may realize.

You can always tell about a culture by the biggest building in the city. Two hundred years ago, it was the church. Today, it is the office tower.

Our buildings reflect more than fashion. They reflect our culture. Just like the clothes we wear, the cars we drive or the way we speak.

Many of these office towers will be here long after the culture has changed.

They will say much to future observers, just as ancient artifacts dug from the ground tell us about our distant past.

Look closely at the buildings around you and ask yourself how they make you feel. What do they say to you?

Chelmsford, Mass., Oct. 13, 2003

To the Editor:

After two days of fulmination, Tom Wolfe not only doesn't convince us that 2 Columbus Circle is a significant piece of architecture, but he also seems to protest too much (Op-Ed, Oct. 12 and 13).

The facts speak for themselves. Edward Durell Stone produced a quirky little building for an ill-conceived museum that never caught on with the public or the press or the patrons. Surviving such an institutional flop, spectacular as it was, is no reason for landmark status.

From whence the passion in Mr. Wolfe's apologia? Perhaps the identification is sartorial. After all, they are both to be found clad in dazzling white, full speed ahead on the frills and the pleats. Even so, is it too much to expect a little change now and then?

New York, Oct. 13, 2003
The writer is chief curator, department of architecture and design, Museum of Modern Art.

To the Editor:

Many thanks to Tom Wolfe (Op-Ed, Oct. 12 and 13) for bringing us up to date on the mess of politics and financial interests that threaten to destroy Edward Durell Stone's masterpiece at Columbus Circle.

I remember well the construction and opening of that fabulous building. I still think it is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. It reminded me of the Taj Mahal.

I return to New York several times a year, and when I go past the Stone building, I grieve.

That building should be a showplace, a stop for tourists and residents. It should be made whole again, as an integral part of the fabric of Manhattan.

Who are these people who want to tear down that building? Should we call them the Muggles, or the Yahoos? Please put this jewel in an appropriate setting and make it come alive again.

Carlisle, Pa., Oct. 13, 2003

To the Editor:

Tom Wolfe (Op-Ed, Oct. 13) suggests that leading architects of modernism dogmatically demanded white walls, steel construction and straight lines, while eschewing luxurious materials. Yet many important buildings by modern masters refute that narrow interpretation.

Mies van der Rohe famously used travertine and onyx at his Barcelona Pavilion; color is integral to Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation, and its sculptural curves are made possible by concrete construction.

Mr. Wolfe perpetuates a flattened, exaggerated and false impression of architectural Modernism.

Cambridge, Mass., Oct. 13, 2003
The writer is editor, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians.

To the Editor:

Tom Wolfe has it right (Op-Ed, Oct. 12). The high priests of architectural religion spout their theoryspeak. Regrettably, the novice students and clients accept this as truth. Yet this approach, which disregards everything else for the artistic statement, produces dysfunctional and costly "installations" that most people dislike. Exactly the point, the fanatics say; eventually, the public will follow. But the public has not followed, and the avant garde has often moved on to its next new thing.

Architecture needs a shake-up to replace its high priests of theoryspeak with a down-to-earth approach to solving real problems.

Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 13, 2003
The writer is a professor of city and regional planning at Ohio State University.

To the Editor:

Regarding Tom Wolfe's Op-Ed articles (Oct. 12 and 13), who can match his verbal pyrotechnics or his evident architectural sophistication? Still, I've always thought that the Huntington Hartford building looked like a vertical brick of white Swiss cheese.

Rockville Centre, N.Y., Oct. 13, 2003

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

November 8th, 2003, 06:44 AM
November 8, 2003

Groups Sue to Prevent Sale of Columbus Circle Building


Three preservation groups filed suit yesterday to stop the city from selling the vacant city-owned building at 2 Columbus Circle to a museum that wants to strip off the building's modernist facade.

Taking issue with an environmental review that cleared the way for the building to be transferred to a quasi-public agency that would handle the sale, the preservationists demanded a new environmental impact statement on the proposed alterations. They also accused the city of moving to dispose of a building worthy of landmark status "without adequately considering the consequences of its loss."

The lawsuit alleged that because the city wanted to sell the building, the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission was reluctant to hold a public hearing on designating it a landmark. "The city's economic objectives infected the process for considering the potential landmark status of the building and subsequently tainted the environmental analysis that it performed in order to gain legal authorization for the sale," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit named a number of municipal officials and agencies as respondents, along with the Museum of Arts and Design, formerly known as the American Craft Museum, which hopes to renovate the Columbus Circle building as a new home for its collection. Susan Kath, a lawyer with the city's Law Department, which will represent the city officials and departments in the case, said, "We support the project wholeheartedly, and we feel it received the proper environmental review." A spokeswoman for the landmarks commission, which was not among the respondents, had no comment.

Holly Hotchner, the director of the museum, noted that the museum's plans had been approved by every city agency to which they were submitted. "I guess it is fair to say this suit is not unexpected because there is a small, vocal minority — and I would emphasize small — that continues, I guess, to feel that the building should be a landmark, and that is not in the museum's purview," she said.

The lawsuit was filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan by officials of Landmark West, a preservation group on the Upper West Side; the Historic Districts Council, which helps neighborhoods pursue landmark designation; and the New York-area chapter of an international preservation group known as Docomomo. Among the five people who joined in filing the lawsuit was Julie Hartford, whose father, the supermarket heir Huntington Hartford, commissioned the building to house his art collection. Fairleigh Dickinson University later operated a gallery there until 1975, when Gulf and Western Industries bought the building as a gift to the city.

The building, completed in 1964, was the work of the architect Edward Durell Stone, who also designed the Museum of Modern Art at 11 West 53rd Street and the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, among many other buildings.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

November 9th, 2003, 05:22 PM
Establishing Landmark status for the former Huntington Gallery will do little to nothing to aide the transformation about to take place at Columbus Circle. The proposed design by Brad Cleopfil of Allied Works Architecture (Portland, OR) creates a conversation with the Time Warner Center (isn't that the rationale for the TWC prow?)

To quote from the NYT article posted at the head of this thread:
"Behind the terra-cotta panels would be glass-enclosed openings of varied dimensions, some as high as 70 feet. Holes would be opened through the floors to create uninterrupted interior glass columns, three or four feet square, that would be filled with artworks.

"In another gesture to unify the building vertically, a processional staircase would be built on the Broadway side of the building, linking the six public floors."
http://graphics7.nytimes.com/images/2003/04/01/arts/colu2.184.jpg http://graphics7.nytimes.com/images/2003/04/01/arts/colu1.184.jpg
* * *
We have yet to experience the radical transformation of Columbus Circle. But in a few years we will know firsthand the fruits of imaginative architectural design. Jazz at Lincoln Center will offer a new interpretation of the concert hall. Not only will the city itself be an amazing backdrop to performances in the main house (facing CP), but the life of the street will be invited into the concert hall.

This drama of interactive performance is simply a variation on Brad Cloepfil's vision: Art as active, not static; and high-art as admitting its relationship -- no matter how tenuous -- to the life of the streets outside.

Lincoln Center could learn much simply by observing what is happening a stone's throw down Broadway.

November 20th, 2003, 06:51 AM
November 20, 2003


Embracing a Father's Creation, if Not His Tastes


JULIET HARTFORD has become accustomed to talking about her father.

She grew up, after all, in a world he created, a glittering cocoon of titles and money, presidents and pop stars. As the heir to the A.& P. supermarket fortune, her father, Huntington Hartford, could give his daughter virtually anything she wanted, and did.

So it is hardly surprising that Ms. Hartford, a painter and part-time fashion model, has joined a legal battle to save one of Mr. Hartford's last remaining legacies: the white marble palazzo he built in 1964 at 2 Columbus Circle to house his art collection. Two weeks ago, she added her name to a lawsuit filed by three preservation groups seeking to stop the city from selling the building to a museum that wants to strip off its much-maligned modernist facade.

"I think it's beautiful," said Ms. Hartford, as she flipped her long brown hair over a shoulder and tucked into a breakfast of fried eggs and hash browns at the Carlyle Hotel. "Everyone I've ever met in the art or fashion worlds likes it."

A svelte, dark-eyed woman who allows that she is in her late 20's, Ms. Hartford has the brittle smile of someone who is used to being photographed. She chose the Carlyle as a meeting place because she lived there for several years as a child after her parents' divorce.

As for her father's building, it has inspired a wide range of views over the years, with some architects pronouncing it a masterpiece and others deriding it as a monstrosity of white marble lollipops.

Ms. Hartford never wavered, and began drumming up support as soon as the city announced in 1997 that it would sell the building. She rattles off the names of the illustrious friends she has enlisted to help save her father's creation: Brooke Astor, Prince Rainier III of Monaco, and Erivan Haub, the majority shareholder of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company.

"I always thought the building could have been sold to someone cool," she said a little wistfully.

In some ways, Ms. Hartford is an unlikely champion for her father's work. She paints dense, collagelike canvases, and considers them works of Abstract Expressionism.

Her father hated modern art, and especially Abstract Expressionism. The gallery at 2 Columbus Circle, designed by Edward Durell Stone, was intended as a vehicle for his moralistic effort to reform the visual art of his age. Tom Wolfe called Mr. Hartford "the Martin Luther of modern culture," a zealot with "the most flagrantly unfashionable taste anybody in New York had ever heard of."

Mr. Hartford, who at age 92 is in poor health and lives in upstate New York, has seen some of his daughter's paintings, she said. But he has never said anything about them.


"Obviously I don't agree with my father's taste in art," she said. "He was way off base. He was very eccentric."

Despite their differences, Ms. Hartford says she has been visiting her father over the last year, and they have grown closer. She saw little of him during her childhood, she said, especially after he remarried and developed a drug habit.

Yet if her father has been a distant figure, her life clearly revolves around her status as his daughter. Recently, she appeared on the HBO documentary "Born Rich," about the lives of people born to great wealth.

She liked the movie, in which she appears only briefly and does not say anything particularly obnoxious or self-revealing, unlike some of the other scions on display.

In one scene, she mentions that her father spent or lost nearly all of his $100 million fortune. Which poses this question: Is she really an heiress?

"Well, I was born rich," she said with an unusually big smile. She has not inherited anything yet, she said, and does not know how much is coming to her. She does get financial help from her parents, enough to help maintain her comfortable life as an artist in London, Paris and New York.

Growing up, she said, she did not understand how wealthy her family was. Yes, there were constant trips to Europe and the family's Caribbean resort. There were ponies and country estates. There were those years living at the Carlyle. But she went to the Hewitt School (across the street from the hotel), where there were plenty of other rich kids.

"I didn't get the special conversations" about her inheritance, she said. "But when I got older, there was publicity."

By that time, she was at Le Rosey, a boarding school in Switzerland, along with some other heirs and heiresses, including her good friend Casey Johnson, whose cousin, Jamie Johnson, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, conceived and directed "Born Rich."

LATER, she took art classes at Marymount College and Columbia University. "They were very lenient in letting me in," she said. "My grades were terrible."

Her social world still centers on people of fabulous wealth, and her conversation sometimes resembles a blizzard of names. Ivanka Trump is a friend. Recently she has begun doing portraits, too, mostly of friends and acquaintances: Alexandra von Furstenburg, Barry Diller, former King Constantine of Greece.

Yet a sadness often creeps into her voice when she discusses her father. "I think he's changed," she said, when asked about his career. "I think he was a visionary."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

November 21st, 2003, 05:03 PM
It will look better than the AOL time Warner building for sure.

November 24th, 2003, 03:27 AM
November 24, 2003


A Building's Bold Spirit, Clad in Marble and Controversy


Edward Durell Stone's 2 Columbus Circle (1964) departed from his allegiance to the International Style.

Let us now celebrate the aristocratic satisfaction of not pleasing. Huntington Hartford gave himself that pleasure when he commissioned Edward Durell Stone to design the Gallery of Modern Art (1964), the legendarily exotic building at 2 Columbus Circle.

A campaign is under way to have the building declared a city landmark before it undergoes a major renovation. I would regret the loss of the building. Whether the campaign succeeds, I hope that New Yorkers will take the opportunity to renew the independent spirit the building embodies.

The Preservation League of New York State has put 2 Columbus Circle on its Seven to Save list, an annual selection of the state's most endangered landmarks. Along with Landmark West! and other civic groups, the Preservation League is seeking a hearing before the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The groups want to prevent the building from being remodeled by its present owner, the Museum of Arts and Design, formerly the American Craft Museum. (More information is available on the Preservation League's Web site, www.preservenys.org .)

Designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture in Portland, Ore., the remodeling plans propose to reclad the building with terra cotta and glass, creating a scrimlike effect. The building's marble skin, porthole windows and Venetian-Gothic-inspired details would be eliminated. The proposed facades appear intentionally underwhelming. The small, invited competition organized by the museum included more impressive efforts. Perhaps the museum hoped to forestall opposition by choosing the least aggressive design.

If so, the strategy backfired. The problem is not Mr. Cloepfil's plan. It is his client's choice of a design that stood little chance of rallying supporters. You can forgive the museum for making what it probably took to be a highly civic gesture. But what's so civic about fearfulness? Or so historically minded? The distinction of 2 Columbus Circle is that Stone was out of step. You do not necessarily improve on such a building by replacing it with something recessive. If anything, you punch up the idea of difference, as Zaha Hadid did in her proposal for the project. You go with a design that stands a chance of kicking up a storm.

I support the league's position. But I regret that its interpretation of the building is so badly skewed; 2 Columbus Circle is hardly the "icon of the Modern movement" described by the group's literature. Modern architects and critics reviled Stone for what they called aesthetic apostasy. Those who esteem the building as a precursor of Postmodernism are on historically firmer ground, but is this anything to be proud of?

That depends on which Postmodernism you have in mind. If by that we mean explicit references to historical styles, 2 Columbus Circle can be blamed for pointing the way toward the decline of New York architecture. If we mean drawing inspiration from the past, then there was no need to have a Postmodernism at all. Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Kahn are just a few of the modern architects who acknowledged their indebtedness to historical precedent.

The truth is that Stone's use of a style like Venetian Gothic is barely incidental to the importance of 2 Columbus Circle. The style was merely the means by which Stone broke ranks. Breaking ranks is what mattered, and I suspect that the attachment many of us feel for the building is due in large part to nostalgia for the period when New York was more hospitable than it is now to the kind of controversy breaking ranks can create.

The ideal of "not pleasing" is fundamental to modern art and modern criticism. The primary job of the critic who takes after Baudelaire is to cast off fear, the fear of saying the wrong thing, forming the wrong judgment, thinking the wrong thought. Criticism, like research science, is based on the absolute right to be wrong.

Like the museum it was designed for, Stone's building was intended as critique. Up to a point it was autocritique. A designer, with Philip Goodwin, of the Museum of Modern Art in 1939, Stone was initially a disciple of the International Style. In the 1950's he had some kind of conversion experience, which I believe involved being seated on a plane next to Aline Saarinen, an art critic for The New York Times. Thereafter he began designing ornamental screens.

The late 50's and early 60's, then, became the great era of ornamental screens. They were to that period what fritted and translucent glass facades like that designed by Allied Works are to ours: veils. The reference was not to the past but to the East, and to a sanitized version of the erotic energies associated with it. Rita Hayworth as Salome. The Forbidden. In this sense Stone was part of America's great libidinous awakening in the postwar decades, architecture's Peppermint Lounge.

Hartford was part of it, too. His crusade against the formalist orthodoxies of the Museum of Modern Art was largely a liberation of the repressed, with Salvador Dalí standing in for Freud. At the top of Stone's building, behind the screen of the loggia, was the two-story Gauguin Room (the museum's restaurant), and also its crowning impulse: the escape from civilization and its constraints on the senses.

Ms. Hadid's design picked up on the confidence of Stone's design and the era that produced it. Taking the porthole windows as her point of departure, she enlarged their size by several orders of magnitude, producing facades that evoked classic Pucci fabric designs. Now these were some scary veils. And I think the city was ready for it. At least the audience for contemporary architecture would have had something worth fighting for.

The fight itself is worth fighting for. Only a decade after Hartford's museum opened, New York architecture began to be overtaken by a tyranny of politeness, a fear of breaking ranks that has yet to loosen its grip. The battle cry for architectural consensus that followed the attacks on Sept. 11 shows how deeply entrenched is the city's resistance to facing the unknown.

Historically, preservationists have been part of this resistance, not just, or even mainly, because some of them may oppose change, but because their criteria for conferring value are obsolete. This is becoming increasingly clear as more postwar buildings come eligible for landmark status. "Typical of its period," "an important example of its style": criteria like these betray a 19th-century historicist approach to the past. They do not account for the dynamic, dialectic role that buildings play over time.

Peter Eisenman is right to suggest that buildings create problems: this is what 2 Columbus Circle has in common with Lever House, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Met Life (originally Pan Am) Building, the T.W.A. Flight Center at Kennedy Airport and other works of the period. All of them were great problems. All of them deserve to be valued as such, if their history is not to be falsified, and if we are to regain a healthy appetite for more of the same.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

November 25th, 2003, 10:48 AM
that scrim might make it worse. why not accentuate the positive?

November 25th, 2003, 11:29 AM
That ain't bad.

November 25th, 2003, 01:24 PM
Yeah! I like that.

December 22nd, 2003, 08:44 AM
December 22, 2003

Polynesian on the Park


To the Editor:

In "A Building Still Looking for Respect (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F70D15FE3B580C768DDDAB0994DB4044 82)" (Metro Matters, Dec. 15), Joyce Purnick says Huntington Hartford's museum at 2 Columbus Circle had a blank front wall "blocking one of the greatest urban views anywhere" — Central Park.

As long as Mr. Hartford owned the building, the top two of the 10 floors were devoted to a lavishly appointed lounge, the Polynesian Room, and restaurant, the Gauguin Room, which provided a spectacular vista of the entire sweep of Central Park from 59th Street to 110th, with the luxurious high-rise walls of Fifth Avenue and Central Park West receding into the distance on either side.

It was the only time the public had access to that great urban view. The plans of the likely new owners of the building, the Museum of Arts and Design, restrict that view to the staff and shroud most of the rest of the building in terra cotta panels with small perforations.


New York, Dec. 16, 2003

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

December 29th, 2003, 11:58 PM
The view of 2 Columbus Circle (http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/2columbus/default.htm) from the 35th floor of the new Mandarin Oriental New York Hotel (http://www.wirednewyork.com/hotels/mandarin_oriental/default.htm).

http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/2columbus/2columbus_mandarin_28dec03.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/2columbus/default.htm)

January 7th, 2004, 01:44 PM
Check out the back page of today's Wall Street Journal D-section for a scathing, anti-preservationist editorial from Ada Louise Huxtable on 2 Columbus Circle. This should become required reading for the NIMBY crowd.

January 7th, 2004, 03:13 PM
Check out the back page of today's Wall Street Journal D-section for a scathing, anti-preservationist editorial from Ada Louise Huxtable on 2 Columbus Circle. This should become required reading for the NIMBY crowd.

Ada makes some good points. However her lashing out at the "lack of fact checking or balanced point of views" of the preservationists is diminished by her own labeling the Time Warner Center - "AOL Time Warner". Everyone knows its not AOL anymore.

I get the WSJ delivered every day but usually use the editorial page for picking up dog poop. This time I actually agree with them. That building is not Penn Station.

January 8th, 2004, 12:42 AM
I enjoyed the slideshows I used to find going on the side of that building--to hit columbus circle and find a huge photo of a cockroach on that big white slab. Wonder why nobody ever tried selling advertising space like that--to show giant movie trailers on it or whatever.

January 8th, 2004, 03:37 AM
More than the goofy arcade or odd portholes, people seem baffled, even appalled, by the blank expanse of masonry. It seems they just can't stomach it. Modern-day horror vacui?

January 8th, 2004, 01:28 PM
it is kind of unsettling to see a big blind wall with no obvious purpose like projecting drive-in movies onto.

January 8th, 2004, 02:02 PM
Well, they could put a monstrously monstrous piece of "art" on it like:


Oh, the horreur!

January 8th, 2004, 04:38 PM
Agreed, I never saw the point in that building.

There are a few ugly-arse buildings in this city, some built recently.....

January 8th, 2004, 05:08 PM
Its so hard designing windows on movie theaters. ;)

January 9th, 2004, 01:59 AM
that would be an obvious purpose, but theater builders have always found ways to articulate blind walls, including windows:



January 9th, 2004, 09:37 AM
I actually like that piece at Union Square

January 9th, 2004, 03:24 PM
Glad to hear it has a fan.

January 9th, 2004, 05:15 PM
Well, as the outside of new movie theaters go (blank walls are pretty much required) it is better than most. ;)

January 9th, 2004, 05:40 PM
If we only had a brutal dictator:



January 9th, 2004, 05:46 PM
I never thought of it that way :lol:

January 9th, 2004, 06:02 PM

Who would dare to tear this down?

January 9th, 2004, 06:17 PM
JMGarica, even if that were so -- and it isn't, since most new theaters are built in malls, and even those generally offer something sexier than blank walls -- 2 Columbus is not a theater.

Kodak Theater, Hollywood, 2001

dbhstockton, a little MS paint is a dangerous thing.

TLOZ Link5
January 9th, 2004, 08:48 PM
Glad to hear it has a fan.

Two fans, I guess. I think it's an interesting piece of street theater.

January 9th, 2004, 10:07 PM
I know 2 Columbus isn't a theater. I was talking about this in Union Sq. which is a theater (14 plex) in its base.


January 9th, 2004, 10:44 PM
sometimes a blank wall isn't such a bad idea. Anyway shouldn't you be enforcing conformity over at SSP?

January 9th, 2004, 11:02 PM
Shouldn't you be finding someone else to obsesse about?

January 9th, 2004, 11:49 PM
that's obsess and don't flatter yourself. And last time I checked this thread was about 2 Columbus.

January 10th, 2004, 12:02 AM
Love the idea, dbhstockton, extending it further - my proposal to sex up the building, kind of Times Square comes to Columbus Circle.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/2columbus/2columbus_roca_28dec03.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/2columbus/default.htm)

January 10th, 2004, 12:07 AM
Unsafe. Too great a risk of traffic accidents.

January 10th, 2004, 10:44 AM
that's a pretty good projection.

January 12th, 2004, 04:31 PM
http://www.nationaltrust.org/magazine/_images/story/2cc.jpg (http://www.nationaltrust.org/magazine/archives/arch_story/080103.htm)

TLOZ Link5
January 12th, 2004, 04:46 PM
The City Review (see "The Rape of Huntington Hartford's 2 Columbus Circle):

On January 7, 2004, Ada Louise Huxtable (see The City Review article on one of her books) wrote a column in The Wall Street Journal that included a color rendering of a revised façade design for the building. Her column attacked efforts to preserve Stone's design, which she said has a "certain toy-like charm," and supported the new design:

"I have been watching, with wonder and disbelief, the beatification of 2 Columbus Circle, né the Huntington Hartford Museum, a. k. a. the lollipop building (so-named, for better or worse, by me). This small oddity of dubious architectural distinction, designed by Edward Durell Stone, has been elevated to masterpiece status and cosmic significance by a campaign to save its marginally important, mildly eccentric, and badly deteriorated façade - a campaign that has escalated into a win-at-any-cost-and-by-any-means vendetta in thename of 'preservation.' Never has that term been so taken in vain....Inspection has found the façade so badly deteriorated that it can't be saved; it would have to be rebuilt - a copy or reproduction would have to replace it."

One might counter, however, that the building's façade problems result most likely from the city's mismanagement of the property and that such a blatant disregard for preservation should not be casually rewarded.

January 12th, 2004, 06:12 PM
the problem with the scrim, apart from the fact that it looks like a cheesy negligee, is that it eliminates the loggia and the proportions of the building, which are its two most appealing features, possibly the only two.

January 13th, 2004, 01:19 PM
it must have a hell of a light restriction.

radical overemphasis
January 13th, 2004, 04:01 PM
Tell me about it! What kind of a building has no windows?!?

January 13th, 2004, 04:04 PM
One that doesn't need any... special lighting conditions may be required for certain exhibits/works, and there's nobody really doing any office work there.

radical overemphasis
January 13th, 2004, 04:08 PM
I know that but at least put some decorative ones on if you were going to build something that bland.

January 14th, 2004, 01:32 PM
Yeah, its good that they're re-doing it then isnt it?

January 15th, 2004, 11:09 PM
I wouldn't call the building bland. Why is everyone so insistent on forcing upon it windows it has no use for? It's a gallery -- windows interfere with that function. The ample two-story "loggia" or whatever on the top floors is for taking in the views. Why is this so hard to accept? It happens to be a beautiful marble wall, executed at a level of quality and workmanship we probably won't see again.

That said, I guess I'm ready to say good-bye to this tragic building. Alas, it was simply too quirky for this pragmatic metropolis. Another footnote in New York's architectural history.

January 15th, 2004, 11:26 PM
Don't pay attention to those two. They're of one mind.

I haven't posted much on this topic (since the other thread). It just seems inevitable that it will be renovated.

January 16th, 2004, 12:20 AM
They should either restore or replace it. No lukewarm middle ground.

January 22nd, 2004, 10:27 AM
January 22, 2004

On Columbus Circle, Fighting a Face-Lift


NOW AND WHEN The 1964 facade at 2 Columbus Circle, left, and the proposed makeover, right.

THIS much will always be true: The view from the top floor of 2 Columbus Circle is stunning.

You can see the mighty vectors of Broadway and Central Park West radiating north and Central Park carpeting the landscape to the east. Hard to the west, the new Time Warner Center rises skyward.

The prospect from the top floor of 2 Columbus Circle may be clear as far as the eye can see, but the building's future is still murky. Last month, the Museum of Arts and Design approved a design by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture for a complete overhaul of the 40-year-old building, designed by Edward Durell Stone. The museum, formerly the American Craft Museum, is in the process of buying the building, vacant since 1998, from the city.

That transaction, and the subsequent renovation, is threatened by a lawsuit filed in November by a consortium of three preservation groups, arguing that the building's historic value was inadequately analyzed by the city before it agreed to turn the building over for private development. The case will go before a judge of the New York County Supreme Court on Feb. 20.

The controversy has made for some unlikely bunkmates, with critics known for championing more new avant-garde architecture joining neighborhood groups known for opposing new development.

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission is not going to protect the building, having declined to submit it for consideration in 1996, two years after it became eligible for landmark status.

Theodore Prudon, the president of Docomomo, a preservation group dedicated to saving modern structures and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said: "The building has very many detractors and supporters. With that much interest, clearly it is a building of significance that should be considered a New York landmark. Independent of whether the current design is good or bad, these prior issues need to be settled."

Others feel that the building, not considered one of Stone's most significant, has had its day in court. "It's a building of no consequence whatsoever," said Terence Riley, chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art. "To deserve landmark status, something either has to have happened there or it has to be a place of great architectural distinction. It's not enough to say it's quirky and interesting."

On Tuesday, the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, a neighborhood group, published an open letter to Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, in AM New York, a free daily newspaper. The letter asks the commission to reconsider awarding the building landmark status for its "novel and daring style" and radical departure from the established corporate architecture of its day. In a phone interview, Mr. Tierney said that the commission was mindful of the "robust debate" about 2 Columbus Circle, but would not reconsider. "In the past year, we've seen it talked about, we've seen a lot in print and we've thought about it and the decision made in 1996 is the decision that stands," he said.

The museum was a critical lightning rod from the very start. Huntington Hartford's Gallery of Modern Art, as it was originally known, was built in 1964 to house his personal art collection. Its perforated ornamental flourishes invoked either Venice or acoustical tiles, depending on your viewpoint. The interiors were widely acknowledged to be too small, dark and claustrophobic, and Mr. Hartford closed his museum after just five years. Over the next 30 years, it was a temporary home to the New York Cultural Center and after the city acquired it in 1975, it housed the Cultural Affairs Department, but failed to find a permanent resident. By 1998, it was empty.

In 2002 the city agreed to sell the building to the Museum of Arts and Design, which is squeezed into three and a half levels at 40 West 53rd Street. "It's ridiculously small," said Holly Hotchner, the director. "There's no room for showing the collection, no room for public programs, no visitors' services. There's not even room to sit down." After the city agreed to the sale, the museum held a competition to choose an architect for the building's conversion. The contest, which included submissions by Zaha Hadid, Toshiko Mori, and Smith-Miller & Hawkinson Architects, led to the selection of Mr. Cloepfil, a 47-year-old architect from Portland, Ore., who recently completed the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis.

Renderings released to the public last week by the museum show the building, with its small-bore windows and elongated loggia at the top, now etched with a channel of glass tracking up a terra-cotta facade. "I want it to maintain a sense of silence and singularity," Mr. Cloepfil said, "to emphasize its role as a marker on Columbus Circle in juxtaposition to all the noise around it."

Some elements of the old building will be preserved in its new form. Its original 10-story height, the concave curve of the facade and the arcade of "Venetian lollipop" columns, as the critic Ada Louise Huxtable dismissively called them when it opened, will all remain. The exterior cladding, however, will be entirely removed, replaced by glazed terra-cotta tiles with an iridescent sheen. "I want the facade to have a character and a texture so that it shows its materiality more, the closer you get to it, like an object you go to pick up on a shelf," Mr. Cloepfil said.

The distinguishing feature of the lobby will be switchback stairs that wrap around a glass display. Both stairwell and staircase will rise to the fifth floor, taking natural light from the lobby with them. The lack of windows in a prime city location has always dismayed the building's critics, but because the original structure is a concrete box, instead of a steel frame, the walls themselves hold up the building, and only about 30 percent of the concrete could be incised. Bringing in light without endangering the structure was Mr. Cloepfil's chief challenge. His solution is a 30-inch-wide channel of glass that runs up the facade and continues inside, cutting across floors, ceilings and walls. The most glass, both transparent and fritted, will be found on the upper floors, where offices and a cafe are to be located. The channel motif, Mr. Cloepfil said, "had to fill the galleries with light, connect people to the views and render the entire building more transparent to the city."

The design more than doubles the building's original gallery space on the four floors above the lobby by relocating the fire stair and restrooms, and by modernizing the mechanical systems. The sixth and seventh floors will be dedicated to artists' studios, classrooms and event spaces.

The dilapidated building still has some ornate interior finishes, including parquet floors, walnut paneling and bronze balustrades decorated with a whimsical bubble motif. Mr. Cloepfil said that it would be too costly to preserve most of the interior detailing, except for a basement auditorium with oversize bronze doors, which will be completely restored. The construction budget, Ms. Hotchner said, is under $30 million.

Construction was to begin in April, Ms. Hotchner said, but plans are on hold, pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, architects continue to take sides. Unimpressed by the building's long and checkered past, Lindy Roy, a young architect from South Africa who set up a design office in Manhattan in 2000, said she's an admirer of the building just as it is: "I love it for all its craziness. It's so unapologetic. Any windowless structure in the city is compelling." But compelling toward what remains the question.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 5th, 2004, 09:18 PM
2 Columbus Circle (http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/2columbus/default.htm) and the entrance to the recently opened The Shops at Columbus Circle (http://www.wirednewyork.com/aol/shops_columbus_circle.htm).

http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/2columbus/2columbus_circle_5feb04.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/2columbus/default.htm)

February 9th, 2004, 11:49 AM
Facing a Turning Point

Columbus Circle's odd building sits in a storm over its renovation

By Justin Davidson

February 4, 2004

Once just an address, 2 Columbus Circle has become a cause. The quirky, white- clad building, designed by Edward Durell Stone in 1964 as the Huntington Hartford Museum, sits on an odd-shaped island surrounded by traffic and towers like a plucky character from a children's book. Its past is checkered, its future in doubt, its present downright derelict.

The Museum of Arts & Design wants to buy it and shine it up with a radical renovation. A loud and resourceful contingent of preservationists is demanding that its marble coat be rehabilitated or replaced, and that Stone's Italianate accents - an arcade on the ground floor, a loggia up top - be protected from changes.

Meanwhile, the place is falling apart quickly. Several days ago, after weeks of frigid weather capped by a snowstorm, a heating pipe froze, then burst, and water was pooling on the sixth floor, flowing down a stairway and cascading down a wall two stories below. One of the small porthole windows had blown out and a little pile of snow had built up in one of the scimitar- shaped galleries.

The distinctively slatted parquet floors looked healthy in some areas but were buckled, warped or gone in others. The mahogany wall panels still evoked former luxury, except where they sported a scattering of drill holes. Painted walls puckered with moisture.

Only the ninth floor, built as a clubby social room, its ceiling decorated with Stone's trademark pattern of interlocked wood circles, had some glamour still clinging to it. In the basement, a minuscule auditorium looked relatively unharmed.

The building could be authentically restored. It would be a laborious and expensive process. In the worst-case scenario, the marble facade would have to be peeled off and reapplied. Milder interventions would involve reconstructive surgery that could leave a patchwork of old and new stone. The mechanical systems would have to be rehabilitated and the interior, with its mezzanine between elevator landings, would have to be made wheelchair- accessible.

The question is: Who would want to do all this - or even part of it - for the sake of a small, awkward building punctured with miserly windows at the corners of each floor?

The preservation advocacy group Landmark West contends that rescuers are out there, if only the city would look for them, rather than trudging blindly toward a deal with the Museum of Arts & Design and thereby, a total overhaul.

The debate has deteriorated almost as quickly as the plumbing. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has repeatedly refused to consider protecting a building that few people think is a masterpiece. The Bloomberg administration has rebuffed the preservationists' pleas. Landmark West has sued the city to postpone the sale until the historical and cultural implications can be fully explored.

Critics have lined up on opposite sides of the trenches, hurling petards of rhetoric at each other, and the conflict has divided enthusiasts and professionals of modern architecture in New York City - people whose values might be expected to coincide.

Paul Spencer Byard, the eminent architect and preservationist, sees the case as evidence that historical preservation has been hijacked by "fundamentalists" who would rather embalm a mediocre building than let another architect attempt to bring out its inherent ideas.

"Architects have been dealing with the issue of how to reuse old buildings for thousands of years, and they've done it pretty successfully," he said. "Now we have a culture that is using old buildings as a way to express a terror of change."

Amid the fog of words is a striking, elegant new design by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture that would transform the carcass of 2 Columbus Circle into an urban adornment. It represents a vast improvement over the version released last year.

Cloepfil proposes to sheathe Stone's concrete box in stippled white terra-cotta - a glazed, durable surface that would sparkle slightly in sunlight. He would replace its vertical rows of portholes with a winding channel cut into the concrete shell and covered with clear glass and perforated terra- cotta. The continuous, see- through ribbon would run upward the height of a single story, turn to follow the ceiling of each gallery, then climb again like a steep switchback trail. The result is a beguilingly irregular expression of the interior on each of the four facades.

On the upper floors, which would house the museum's administrative offices, vertical strips of fritted glass would open up views in four directions, exploding the bunker ambience that made the building so unpopular among city employees when it housed the Department of Cultural Affairs.

Cloepfil's design contains a memory of Stone's. The height does not change, nor does the color, and the ground-floor arcade remains, enclosed in glass like an artifact in a vitrine. That coy gesture - teasing the public with glimpses of the building's musculature - enrages some preservationists.

"This is not an archaeological dig, where you expose some of the building," said the landscape architect Michael Gotkin, one of the original's more impassioned defenders. "It's there, it's intact and it should be preserved."

That's one way of seeing Cloepfil's operation. Another take is that he has found a way to honor the building's principal virtue - eccentricity - while making it something it has never been: useful.

Stone's funny duckling has taken on a symbolic value out of proportion with its inherent values. Perhaps what really matters to its self-appointed protectors is its incongruity in a plaza otherwise characterized by dark-tinted, brand-name glass megaliths: the Trump Hotel and Tower and the Time Warner Center. Stone's folly is a relic, if not of Old New York, then of Medium-Old New York. Columbus Circle was not a particularly inviting place before its recent round of imperial refurbishments, but then, nostalgia applies to seedy yesterdays, too.

At bottom, this is a fight over how we tell the story of our recent past. Laurie Beckelman, a former chairwoman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission who directs the renovation project for the Museum of Arts & Design, belongs to the masterworks school of thought. She believes that 2 Columbus Circle is not a fine enough example of Stone's oeuvre to merit preservationist reverence - particularly when compared to the Conger-Goodyear House in Old Westbury or the facade of the Museum of Modern Art.

Beckelman is facing preservationists such as Gotkin, who believe that the narratives of Stone's career and of the city itself are more complicated, composed of intriguing digressions and parenthetical episodes. By that logic, the fact that 2 Columbus Circle is able to stir up such passion gives evidence of its continued importance.

The irony is that Cloepfil's design also represents an antidote to the depersonalized, deluxe Columbus Circle that preservationists deplore. It's easy to imagine another chapter of this saga, 40 years from now, when the quirky Cloepfil & Stone creation comes under a developer's beady eyes, and a coalition of New Yorkers mobilizes to defend it. By that time, the turn-of-the-century struggles we are witnessing could be marshaled as proof that the building tells a crucial New York tale and that it should therefore be preserved.

Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.

April 16th, 2004, 04:19 PM
Judge rules museum can proceed with 2 Columbus Circle project

April 16, 2004, 5:41 AM EDT

NEW YORK (AP) _ A Manhattan judge has ruled that the Museum of Arts and Design can move ahead with its plan to purchase and renovate 2 Columbus Circle.

State Supreme Court Justice Walter Tolub on Thursday dismissed a challenge by three preservationist groups that sought to block the sale and renovation of the 10-story building.

The groups argued that the city had not thoroughly assessed the impact of selling and renovating the building when it said the structure was "not worthy of preservation in its present form."

Tolub said the city had taken "a hard look" at the issue before making its decision.

The Museum of Arts and Design, formerly the American Craft Museum, plans to replace the facade with terra cotta and glass and make changes to the layout of the interior.

The building, designed in 1964 by Edward Durell Stone, is windowless except for a row of elongated windows along the top and features a concave facade and engraved porthole edges.

It originally housed the art collection of wealthy businessman Huntington Hartford, but in 1976 was purchased by Gulf & Western Industries and given to the city, which has used it for its Department of Cultural Affairs and as a visitors' center. It has been vacant since 1998.

Copyright © 2004, The Associated Press

April 16th, 2004, 04:28 PM
It always looked kind of like a bookend, a radiator cover, an electric razor or a battery pack.

I don't really care what they do with this one, but I have to say the proposal on the January article is heinous!!!

April 16th, 2004, 09:57 PM
2 columbus circle shouldn't change............ "THEY DON'T BUILD THEM LIKE THEY USE TO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

April 16th, 2004, 10:32 PM
Landmarks Preservation Commission should do something about this.

April 17th, 2004, 03:15 AM
I have an idea. Knock the damn thing down. It's not a large building by any measure, yet it is positioned in such a way that it really blocks light to the South. It would be great for the Circle to just knock it down. Put a grassy little block there and be done with it (I'm sure that this idea will gain a lot of support here!).

TLOZ Link5
April 17th, 2004, 04:07 AM
Hmmm...I don't think so. Columbus Circle, which is undergoing a renovation to allow public access, is right there, as is Central Park. Ever heard of a redundant plaza?

April 17th, 2004, 11:49 AM
"I have an amicus brief from Mister Sun; I will read it in its entirety:

'For forty odd years I have shined forth upon the magnificent skyline of Manhattan, and in all that time my efforts have failed to bring relief upon the windowless prison that is Two Columbus Circle. Frustrated that I can grant no relief to people inside the building or to the art for which the building was purportedly built, I ask that the court that this building be razed.'

The court recognizes Mister Sun's contention -- that the building is utterly without merit -- and allows that his life-granting radiation makes him a sound judge of architecture, but the question before the court involves altering the building, not taking it to the ground.

I hereby declare this abomination of a building to be altered with all deliberate speed."

-- The Honorable Judge Tolub

April 19th, 2004, 01:50 PM
Well, i am not calling for the Sun to shine on that little block there.

But somehow thinking that every building that is old or is different has some god-given right to exist now and forever just because it IS old and different really needs to be addressed.

Noone here has been saying "it will ruin the neighborhood" or any other arguement that is usually used in these cases. It will not preserve or fit with the local architecture, and it is not a very notewrothy design in any way except for the fact that it is different.

It can stay or it can go. I do not own it, or columbus circle, and so long as they don't make a cosmic death-ray or giant Mongomery Burns sun-blocker, I really don't care.

The only thing that I really care about is that so many people have so much time to care about so many things that matter so little sometimes... (sorry to all that feel I am insulting them with this...:( )

May 25th, 2004, 10:53 AM
National Trust for Historic Preservation
May 24, 2004

2 Columbus Circle one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Created by architect Edward Durell Stone, who also designed Washington’s famed Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 Columbus Circle is a nationally recognized – albeit controversial – icon of the Modern Movement. Sporting a marble skin, porthole windows and a street-level arcade that critics have likened to a row of lollipops, the unorthodox building is radically different from the glass-and-steel boxes typical of its era.

Now it is slated to be sold and renovated as a permanent home for the Museum of Arts and Design. That’s the good news; the bad news is that the design proposed for the new use would strip 2 Columbus Circle of its architectural integrity, and since it is not protected by New York’s preservation ordinance, these changes could be made without any kind of preservation review. This means that unless the new owner can be persuaded of the building’s significance, sweeping architectural changes could rob 2 Columbus Circle of its distinctive character and rob America of an engagingly quirky icon of the recent past.


Located at the southwest corner of Central Park, 2 Columbus Circle has been controversial ever since its completion in 1964. Originally designed to showcase the modern-art collection of supermarket heir Huntington Hartford, the building housed New York City offices during the 1980s and 1990s but is now vacant, pending transfer to the private Museum of Arts and Design. The building was listed on the Preservation League of New York State’s “Seven to Save” this year in recognition of its architectural and historical significance to the citizens of New York.


The new design for the building by Brad Cloepfil, although not finalized, includes extensive alterations that would destroy major elements of Edward Durell Stone’s design. The destruction of 2 Columbus Circle's original façade would mean the loss of a unique chapter of America's story.


The National Trust urges the owners of 2 Columbus Circle, currently the City of New York, but soon to be the Museum of Arts and Design, to develop a restoration plan for the building that respects its integrity as a modernist masterpiece and celebrates its unique form and design. Listing in the State and National Registers of Historic Places and public hearings by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission for landmark designation of 2 Columbus Circle will give the building added protection and ensure that all possible measures are taken to protect this important resource.

Circa 1964.

This view (circa 1964) taken soon after the opening of Huntington Hartford's Gallery of Modern Art, shows the 1892 Columbus Monument at left.

View of "Lollipop Arcade," circa 1964.

View of interior gallery, circa 1964.

View of interior auditorium, circa 1964.

Recent view from north side of Columbus Circle (2002).

Copyright 2004 National Trust for Historic Preservation

May 25th, 2004, 02:36 PM
Good stuff BigMac :wink:

May 25th, 2004, 03:48 PM
What do you guys reckon? When I first came to New York I was rather struck by this building. It was so mysterious and odd. I think it should be restored, as it captures a really odd era. Make up your own minds on it.

2 COLUMBUS CIRCLE TAKES THE NATIONAL STAGE: Are Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission Listening?

National Public Radio

National Public Radio
All Things Considered






May 24, 2004

Profile: New York City's Huntington Hartford Building


The National Trust for Historic Preservation today announced its list of America's most endangered historic places. The choices on the 2004 list are unusual. Among them are the entire state of Vermont, threatened by development; the Bethlehem Steel plant in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Nine-Mile Canyon in Utah, the home of 10,000 petroglyphs; and a quirky, controversial building in New York City that NPR's Margot Adler says still causes debate.

MARGOT ADLER reporting:

Architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable despised the building and called it `a die-cut Venetian palace on lollipops.' Edward Durrell Stone's white marble edifice at 2 Columbus Circle seemed an oddity when it was built in 1964, an indulgence for Huntington Hartford, who put his art collection inside it. Those lollipoplike columns--my mother used to laugh and call them pingpong paddles--form an arcade with the entrance inside. And near the very to! p there are Venetian-looking windows. Today the white marble structure is dwarfed by the new, dark-glass Goliath that is the Time Warner building.

In front of the building this morning, as streams of tourists and commuters passed by, most had never even noticed it.

Unidentified Woman #1: I think they're prettier buildings. It's better than all the glass.

Unidentified Woman #2: I like it.

Unidentified Man: It's a part of New York history.

ADLER: The Huntington Hartford Museum only lasted four years, and the building was taken over by the city. Now the Museum of Arts and Design, which intends to buy the building, has floated plans to alter its appearance, raising a hue and cry from an army of defenders, like Robert M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, who says Stone and his building skewered modernist theories of architecture by bringing back ornament, context and history when steel and glass were the order of the day.

Mr. ROBERT M. STERN (Dean, Yale School of Architecture): And he asked people then to say to themselves not only, `Do you like it?' but, `Don't you think it makes modern architecture look a little funny as a whole?' or, `What's missing in modern architecture that this building has?'

ADLER: Stone used lavish materials: molding, marble, wood veneers. But what really drives those artistic critics crazy, Stern says, is that the building makes you smile.

Mr. STERN: We live in a time in which art is not supposed to make you smile. We are to be confronted with the grim realities of life in the face of art.

Ms. WENDY NICHOLAS (National Trust for Historic Preservation): I think 2 Columbus Circle is just different from most buildings we see every day.

ADLER: Wendy Nicholas is the director of the northeast office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. And writer Tom Wolfe, who regards all critics as mere couriers for a small cabal of collectors, museum curators and others who determine what is good and b! ad, is even more blunt in his defense of the building. He says the modernist code condemned anything comfortable as bourgeois. It said...

Mr. TOM WOLFE (Writer): Everything should be reduced to steel, plaster and glass, and Stone was the first to say, `Have we all gone crazy?'

ADLER: After all, he says, Manhattan is the colossus of capitalism, not a workers' paradise. Far from being the ugliest building in the city, Wolfe says the Huntington Hartford Building saves the rest of Columbus Circle from being a complete monstrosity.

The building's defenders, like Stern and Wolfe, say there is a new effort to preserve buildings from the 20th century. They hope today's announcement will prompt New York City to take action, and they say a new generation is coming to value the building for, if nothing else, its whimsy. Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.


May 25th, 2004, 03:56 PM
I still think it's ugly and not particularly significant. The new building would be more of a landmark than this obscenity.

May 25th, 2004, 06:15 PM

May 25th, 2004, 06:59 PM
:? What were they thinking when they built it? NO WINDOWS? and all that park land infront of their eyes?

May 25th, 2004, 07:14 PM
Focus is on the art inside, I guess windows would be a distraction.

May 25th, 2004, 07:18 PM
I still think it's ugly and not particularly significant. The new building would be more of a landmark than this obscenity.

Not so much a landmark as fitting in with the new TWC and creating a certain modern flow with the circle.

May 25th, 2004, 07:47 PM
A small group of elitists pretend to clothe themselves with disingenuous concern for the common people; and further, expect the Museum to absorb the considerabale costs to preserve this quirky builidng that is not even near the ultimate opus of its architect.

Quickly, pass the fabric! The Imperious have no clothes. Let the Museum establish its mark upon Columbus Circle. And let's focus on landmarks that embody the city's cultural heritage.

May 26th, 2004, 01:02 AM
I still think it's ugly and not particularly significant. The new building would be more of a landmark than this obscenity.

Not so much a landmark as fitting in with the new TWC and creating a certain modern flow with the circle.


May 26th, 2004, 09:29 AM
[quote="fioco"]A small group of elitists pretend to clothe themselves with disingenuous concern for the common people; and further, expect the Museum to absorb the considerabale costs to preserve this quirky builidng that is not even near the ultimate opus of its architect.

Yes, how awful that a museum would have to touch up a building that was designed to be....A MUSEUM. Of course, there's no "considerable cost" to sheath the building in glass, because, after all, glass boxes emerge free like tap water from Walter Gropius' dead rectum.

Believe it or not, there was a time when buildings were mostly marble, with SOME mirrors, and not the other way around. Enquirer headline: DEAD BAUHAUS ZOMBIES STILL EXERT MIND CONTROL AS TO WHAT MODERNISM SHOULD BE! Hope they pry all of that exquisite wood out of the interior and replace it with proletarian plaster; I mean how can you exhibit FOLK ART on wooden walls? (sarcasm alert) Perhaps the homeless can make bonfires with the wood, safe in the notion that the building is at last bourgeois-proof and utopia is just around the corner!

While we're at it, lets put the wrecking ball to that other mostly windowless museum, the Guggenheim. Or at least sheath it in glass (sarcasm alert).

Lollipops! Lipstick! Heresy all! Edward Durrell Stone burns in hell for his apostasy, but it is not too late for you, Philip Johnson, to repent and sheath all of your postmodern buildings in glass! (red sarcasm alert)

A cautionary tale about another "quirky" "hated" building:

"Although the site at the triangular tip of City Hall Park was chosen for a U.S. post office in 1867, the elaborately colonnaded, mansard-roofed building did not open until 1878. After a competition with no winner, a committee headed by A. B. Mullet was formed to design the building. Never liked, it was dubbed "Mullet's monstrosity," and as early as 1920 efforts to demolish it were underway.
Despite the city's eagerness to demolish what it considered an eyesore, the subsequent renovation of City Hall Park was uninspired, and the park remains unimpressive."

May 26th, 2004, 10:06 AM

Well I like this idea too! Or something like it. Just put a video screen with commercials or something interesting like they do in Time Square. :D That way they wont have to alter the work but just add something to it to make use of that blank wall.

Or maybe is not a good idea...hmmm

May 26th, 2004, 10:39 AM
Horror Vacui

May 26th, 2004, 10:56 AM
Well...maybe that image was't a good example. :oops:

May 26th, 2004, 02:15 PM
thirduncle, your response gives evidence of the emotionalism behind this petard. Is your cause a defense of rhetoric? Then employ more reason and less rant, fury and misinterpretation. [I don't want to pursue this argument, but the Guggenheim fails as an art museum. Let it stand? Obviously! But it is not a strong defense for your argument.] I'm willing to listen, but don't shout.

May 26th, 2004, 10:11 PM
My point is that white marble is a beautiful, LUXURIOUS material, and that internationalist orthodoxy has unconsciously brainwashed people that a wall of glass or mirrors is ALWAYS preferable! Minimalism with marble: bad. Minimalism with glass: good. WHY?

The building just needs to be cleaned up. Usually the justification for destroying a building is economical. In this case, the reason is ideological. Preservation would actually SAVE the museum money. The cost of gutting it and replacing the exterior with yet more glass is FAR more expensive. Do you understand how nutty it is that the museum of folk art is still so influenced by internationalist rhetoric that they want to spend a fortune to "bourgeois proof" their building? That they find it embarrassing that Huntington Hartford didn't believe in the "correct" modernist aesthetic?

Notice how people are literally blinded by orthodoxy. "What were they thinking when they built it? NO WINDOWS?" There are windows behind the arches at the top. (you wonder why I rant when people can't even look at a building and SEE that there ARE windows?) The rest is an ART MUSEUM. You hang paintings on the walls. Oh great, reduce the gallery space because ALL buildings MUST be curtains of glass. If an office was taking over the building, they'd have a stronger argument for renovation, but the building is already a fully functional art museum.

I am for preserving DIVERSITY of architecture. I reject the argument that just because Time-Warner is a curtain of glass, ALL surrounding buildings must be so. Huntington Hartford, like the mullet building, is one-of-a-kind. The opposite of love is not hate, but apathy. Mullet was hated, yet today, I wish it still stood.

This building stirs up strong emotions. Ask yourself why. Could it be that the erection of thousands and thousands of glass boxes has skewed too many people's conception of what a building MUST look like? Why is a wall of marble (with decorative motifs) an embarrassment but a wall of glass is not?

(Note to the mocking photoshop "projectionists," how about an image of man shaving in the giant mirror of the Time Warner building? A little equal time, please?)

(Note to Fioco: You are correct. The idea that the Guggenheim is a failure of an art museum is DEFINITELY not worth pursuing)

June 2nd, 2004, 09:18 AM
At Columbus Circle, Going Round & Round Over a Building's Fate

By Linda Hales
Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, May 29, 2004; Page C01

Brad Cloepfil's plan would introduce more light by carving channels into the 10-story building.

NEW YORK -- In the annals of preservation, few buildings have generated as quirky a battle as the one raging over 2 Columbus Circle, a beleaguered piece of New York architecture whose intended new owner -- the Museum of Arts & Design -- plans to erase the legacy of a rare American modernist to bolster its own image.

At risk is a decrepit 1964 building by Edward Durell Stone, the controversial architect who also gave Washington its John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Manhattan building isn't great, and maybe the architect wasn't either. Nonetheless, this week, the National Trust for Historic Preservation declared the structure one of the "most endangered" places in America.

The designation raises an impassioned local preservation debate to national stature. The issues -- cultural stewardship and the determination of merit in a building too new to be truly historic -- are played out in many other cities.

The Columbus Circle building, which is owned by the city, was designed in the architect's late flamboyant phase. It has a curved facade of white marble adorned with a Venetian-style balcony, portholes and an arcade of abstract arches known from Day One as "lollipops," thanks to architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable, then at the New York Times. Though the 10-story building overlooks Central Park, it is all but windowless.

The list of supporters and detractors would make a dinner party worthy of "Bonfire of the Vanities," with writer Tom Wolfe at the head table. (He penned a 4,000-word screed on behalf of preservation last fall in the Times.) Robert A.M. Stern, dean of Yale's School of Architecture, warned that "a world-class landmark is threatened with defilement." National Trust Director Richard L. Moe calls the building "a wonderful work of a great American."

Opposition comes from a series of mayors interested in ridding the city of the property for a price and a coterie of progressives who think the building's time has passed. Holly Hotchner, director of the museum formerly known as American Craft (and now saddled with the acronym MAD), describes Stone's work as a "mausoleum." Huxtable, the doyenne of architecture critics, revisited her views earlier this year in the Wall Street Journal. She declared that the building was not Stone's best and figured the structure was probably too far gone to be preserved.

The Museum of Modern Art's architecture curator, Terence Riley, believes the newly revived Columbus Circle deserves better. He also opposes invoking the public's goodwill on behalf of mediocrity. In his view, Stone's building has failed on every count.

"You're talking about a patient that has been on life support for so long that none of the doctors are still alive," Riley says.

Stone designed the building for A&P supermarket heir Huntington Hartford's Gallery of Modern Art, which was to be an alternative to MoMA. The building was savaged by critics, and the museum failed after five years. Ownership passed eventually to the city, which filled it with office workers.

Vacant since the late 1990s, the structure now languishes, an eyesore in full view of the gleaming new Time Warner Center. Scaffolding protects pedestrians from the risk of falling marble. Chain-link fencing prevents the homeless from camping between the "lollipops." But for the actions of local preservationists, including what Hotchner calls a "nuisance" lawsuit now being appealed, the museum would have started remaking the building last month.

The Museum of Arts & Design is crammed into three small floors of a building opposite MoMA on 53rd Street, with no space to display its permanent collection of more than 2,000 objects. The Stone building offered four times the gallery space, plus room for offices, educational facilities, expanded shop and more -- presuming changes. The museum has raised half the $50 million it needs for the work. Hotchner won't reveal the price it will pay the city. A key point is the freedom to remake the site.

The museum has already held an architectural competition, passing up Zaha Hadid, this year's Pritzker Prize winner, in favor of an emerging talent, Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works in Portland, Ore. Cloepfil would preserve Stone's curve and mass but also infuse the dark box with light by carving 30-inch channels into the structural concrete. He says he wants to "extend the memory of that building as an iconic object." The marble facade would be replaced with a layering of custom-made terra cotta. Digital images show a building that is still white, but more ethereal. It's Stone, but it's not.

How does it feel to alter a notable American modernist? Cloepfil, who has been called a neo-modernist, responds carefully: "I don't believe it's one of his best buildings. I think Columbus Circle deserves a better piece of architecture."

The Trust and its allies disagree passionately.

"The board of this new museum should reflect on whether or not a work of architecture is a work of art also and deserves to be protected," says Moe. "I am just astonished frankly that art museum people can take that view."

Hotchner is unmoved.

The museum, she says, is proceeding apace to "create a great public space."

That's what Tom Wolfe remembers. In a conversation this week, he pointed out that, at age 74, he is one of the few voices in the drama old enough to have experienced the white marble elephant in its glorious prime. It was a temple of luxury from a courageous architect revolting against the orthodoxies of his time.

Stone's anti-modern decorative streak is best preserved in a celebrated design for the American Embassy in New Delhi. But 2 Columbus Circle is seen by more Americans daily. Wolfe, who excoriated strict modernism in his 1981 book "From Bauhaus to Our House," waxes gleeful about Stone's use of forbidden veneers, ornate railings and regal gold and red carpets on gallery floors. There was also a restaurant and a lounge, which afforded New Yorkers access to views over Central Park.

"You felt like you were on top of the world, like all was well in the world," he says. "You were in a white marble building."

Little of the glory that Wolfe remembers survives. On a tour two weeks ago with Laurie Beckelman, director of MAD's New Building Program and a former chair of the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission, I took in the postcard view of Central Park framed by Venetian kitsch. The rest of the building exuded the charm of a bunker.

Long galleries bounded by a solid curved wall reflected the front facade. From each of seven levels, steps led a half-story down to small, oddly shaped landings, which led to more stairs. By flashlight, paneled walls looked grim rather than deluxe. Pipes had burst, and Beckelman said she had seen water cascading down the stairs. Glimmers of natural light passed through grimy portholes. Only a basement theater, entered through original brass doors, suggested bygone glamour. Beckelman said the museum planned to restore it.

Hyperbole is part of the debate as long as Stone's place in history is unresolved. Wolfe calls him "probably the most distinguished American modernist." Hotchner sees him as "relatively significant." Either way, MoMA's Riley cautions, "No architect is so famous that you would say all his buildings are worth saving in perpetuity. Everybody's work is uneven."

Stone's son Hicks, who followed his father into the field of architecture, favors preservation, but even his views are conflicted.

"Dad was out of fashion for a while," he acknowledges. "Even I at times have been made uncomfortable by the aesthetic of 2 Columbus Circle."

Right now, two issues give him pause. Like Moe, he is appalled that "an institution whose central mission is to preserve cultural artifacts is in fact determined to demolish what is probably its most valuable artifact." He also worries that cutting into the structure to add light could destroy the structural integrity of the building.

Stone, who died in 1978, is quoted in Paul Heyer's "Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America" as saying: "If our flights of fancy found receptive audiences and each of us were encouraged to be an individual our lives would be enriched. . . . Americans need more than ever to cultivate the open mind."

The building is an oddity and the issues are complex. But in the current impasse, open minds would be a better legacy for all.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

June 2nd, 2004, 10:06 AM
Preserve it or tear it down.
In 50 years will the preservation world care about this remodel-job by Brad Cloepfil?
If all they want is raw space, then MAD doesn't deserve the prime location of Columbus Circle. Let a developer bid for the land from the city if there are no preservation strings attached.
BTW did Time Warner aquire the air rights for the parcel (making my suggestion moot)?

It's nice, but the site/context demands better massing/proportion.


June 3rd, 2004, 12:01 AM
June 3, 2004


Lollipops and Circles of Influence


THERE has to be another phrase for it. "It's a small world" won't do, and "six degrees of separation" is way overexposed. Circular, maybe?

Yes, circular. And no pun is intended, though this is about the reclamation of Columbus Circle, where the Time Warner Center, that sparkling vertical mall, opened its doors in February. With road work and landscaping under way, there's just one shabby remnant left to mar the circle - the former Huntington Hartford Museum at 2 Columbus Circle, long ago dubbed the lollipop building by Ada Louise Huxtable for its eccentric design.

The Museum of Arts and Design wants to renovate the building and move in, but has been slowed by a lawsuit and a public relations campaign to preserve the facade.

A lawsuit failed in State Supreme Court, but the plaintiffs have just filed a notice to appeal, and were buoyed by new support from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The trust, a private organization that is widely respected but has no power, announced last month that 2 Columbus Circle had made its 2004 list of the country's "most endangered places'' - a diverse list of endangered historic sites that includes the entire state of Vermont (under attack by prospective Wal-Mart encroachment, says the trust).

The lollipop building, designed by Edward Durell Stone, was nominated to the trust by three groups. Two are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the renovation - Landmark West and the Historic Districts Council. The third is the Preservation League of New York State, an umbrella group that represents many organizations around the state - among them the Historic Districts Council and Landmark West.

As noted, circular.

There is nothing inappropriate about the interconnections. They simply illustrate the way things work. In a city where most people are busy and distracted, just a small number of New Yorkers who feel very strongly on one subject can sometimes get their way. Or at the least get in the way of others.

In the case of 2 Columbus Circle, supporters of the building feel passionately about its value as an example of postmodernism, while those who dislike it feel just as passionately that it is eccentric on the outside, narrow and dark on the inside and can only be improved by plans of the museum's architect, Brad Cloepfil.

The president of the National Trust, Richard Moe, said that assessments of the building are judgment calls. "We're trying simply to bring attention to the structure, which we think is a significant work of a significant architect,'' said Mr. Moe, who explained he has seen the exterior of the building but not its interior. "Ideally, there ought to be a hearing by the Landmarks Commission. Let the process work its will.''

Then again, there was a process. In 1996, a subcommittee of the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission decided against recommending a full commission hearing on designating 2 Columbus Circle a landmark. There were charges of political interference, but the current commission chairman, Robert B. Tierney, said he stands by the decision.

Critics sued on other grounds, contending that the city conducted a flawed environmental review. Justice Walter B. Tolub of State Supreme Court rejected their arguments in April, in a strongly worded opinion that is heading for an appeal that could under the rules take until next spring.

SO far, the consequences of the lollipop campaign are short-term. The museum, which had hoped to begin construction in April, has yet to get all city approvals or to conclude its purchase of the building. Fund-raising has also slowed, said Jerome A. Chasen, chairman of the museum's capital campaign and building committee.

"As a matter of fact, to be very honest with you, it's just stopped,'' he said yesterday. "People say, 'Do you own the building yet?' We don't. We're very excited about moving there, we think it's going to happen and are doing everything we can to move the process along as quickly as possible. But it is not entirely in our hands.''

With the building's facade so deteriorated that it might need rebuilding rather than renovation, would another developer materialize if the deal with the Museum of Arts and Design collapses? A welcome argument, said Mr. Moe of the Historic Trust. "You're almost always better off, even if requires waiting a little longer, for the right reuse of structure like this.''

Optimism from Washington. But in New York, 2 Columbus Circle radiates nothing so much as frustration as it sits vacant behind an ugly chain-link fence, bordered by grandeur and encircled by politics.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 3rd, 2004, 06:16 PM
Preserve it or tear it down.
In 50 years will the preservation world care about this remodel-job by Brad Cloepfil?
If all they want is raw space, then MAD doesn't deserve the prime location of Columbus Circle. Let a developer bid for the land from the city if there are no preservation strings attached.
BTW did Time Warner aquire the air rights for the parcel (making my suggestion moot)?

It's nice, but the site/context demands better massing/proportion.

I agree why dont just built something new on this site. A museum with a rediential or hotel tower on top of it. Just like the MOMA did. They can make money with fees and stuff from the tower.

July 3rd, 2004, 07:27 PM
July 4, 2004


Preservationist Chic: What Would Tom Wolfe Do?


Lisa Haney

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. These are nice. Little fig morsels rolled up in prosciutto. Very tasty. Very subtle. It's the way the sweet crunchiness of the figs tiptoes up against the dour savor of the meat that is so nice, so subtle.

Wonder what Tom Wolfe is eating, perhaps at this very moment, out there in Southampton? Does Mr. Wolfe like little fig morsels rolled up this way, like bugs in a rug, and masses of fresh mint floating like algae swarms in pitchers of crystalline mojitos? Such are the pensées métaphysiques that rush through one's head here on the Upper East Side, during these Preservationist Chic evenings, like this one just last week, devoted to saving 2 Columbus Circle, the ugliest, in a jolie laide way, building in Manhattan.

For example, is that diminutive interior decorator in the shocking-pink linen slacks, topped by a pure white T-shirt that hints archly of Fruit of the Loom, is that decorator going to be the one to join Mr. Wolfe on the barricades when the Museum of Arts and Design, the would-be owner of 2 Columbus Circle, begins its renovation? Here is the decorator talking to Lori Zabar of the Zabar family, Stanley's daughter, also smashing in pink, eyeing the fig morsels wrapped in prosciutto being passed around on a silver tray, while never missing a beat of Robert A. M. Stern's perfect Yale dean of architecture voice of authority.

Mr. Stern is remarkable. He is wearing a classic blue blazer over sharply creased trousers, the cuffs falling languidly around his ankles. The cuffs are a Claes Oldenburg sculpture wrought in ineffably fine fabric, cashmere, one suspects, the color the rarefied russet of sand dunes at sunset in the Sahara. His white shirt is buttoned snugly to the top. His tie is corporate yellow, but on closer inspection proves to be speckled with tiny flaming dots, as if infected by a rogue outbreak of chickenpox. Mr. Stern is a short, trim man, and yet he always seems tall. It is his head, which he cradles self-mockingly in one crooked palm, like Rodin's "Thinker,'' as a photographer moves in. He has a noble head.

Mr. Stern and Mr. Wolfe, dean and dandy, have banded together to save the 1964 building, orphaned spawn of Huntington Hartford, shiftless heir to the A.&P. fortune. You know the place, designed as a gallery of modern art by Edward Durell Stone. With its white, marble-clad facade on Venetian stilts, perforated by Pop Art circles, it is the anthropomorphic doppelgänger of Mr. Wolfe dolled up in his custom-made white suit, though the suit appears to patronize a better dry cleaner. The invitation to the cocktail party and auction in the Liz O'Brien Gallery at 61st Street and Fifth Avenue also lists Chuck Close, Milton Glaser, LeRoy Neiman, and Picasso's mistress, Françoise Gilot-Salk.

The other luminaries have lent their names, but Mr. Stern has lent his presence, to cast his celebrity sheen on all those Baby Preservationists and Decorators on the Make. "When I was a student of architecture, I hated Edward Durell Stone," Mr. Stern confesses. That was because, he adds, Mr. Stone got all the good commissions.

Marooned in one corner is Maria Durell Stone, the architect's second of three wives. Ms. Stone is remarkable. She is beautiful, with that rare burnished beauty that lasts through the years. She greets the Baby Preservationists with the same bend of the wrist, the same tilt of the head, the same perfect Claudette Colbert voice with which she might have greeted Eisenhower, Kennedy and Nixon. The A.&P. heir, she recounts, deliciously, used to vet her husband's designs for 2 Columbus Circle with the headwaiter at El Morocco.

Andrew Cogan, C.E.O. of Knoll Inc., paces. He has bought Mr. Stone's former townhouse, at 130 East 64th Street. It is being renovated by the architect's son, Hicks, the one in the Le Corbusier-Philip Johnson spherical black glasses, hovering protectively over his mother. "I'm sleeping in his bedroom," Mr. Cogan crows, of the master.

But enough small talk, let the auction begin. The first item is a bentwood stool, Stone's modernist riff on a Mediterranean donkey saddle. Bidding starts at $1,200 and rises rapidly, blue cards flashing. Sold! For $6,600, to a tall blond man in a checked jacket, bare feet tucked into butter-soft brown suede loafers. The Baby Preservationists mob him. They shake his hand, pat his shoulder. "Who are you? Who are you?" they demand. Perspiration drips from the brow of the tall blond man.

"I'm a decorator from Arkansas," he replies, again and again, in a sexy Clintonian drawl. Mr. Stone, everyone knows, was born in Fayetteville. "I'm Parkin Saunders, from Little Rock." Then he turns, and strides out into the gentling night.

E-mail: amh@nytimes.com

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 5th, 2004, 12:10 PM

One well turned phrase after another.

August 28th, 2004, 12:21 AM
2 Columbus Circle deal gets okay


The building was nicknamed
lollipop because of its columns.

The lollipop building, which has graced Columbus Circle for decades, won final approval yesterday to be sold.

Manhattan's borough board gave its okay for the transaction in a 9-to-1 vote, despite appeals by preservationists.

The Museum of Arts & Design is paying $17 million for the famous building, which got its nickname from its lollipop-shaped columns. The museum plans to tear down the building's white-marble facade, which has riled some groups.

"There was a lot of discussion and debate surrounding the landmarkable status," said Josh Bosian, the director of community affairs for city Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who voted to approve the sale.

The Museum said the sale would make the building a more productive cultural center.

"This gives the opportunity for the museum to continue to grow," said Laurie Beckelman, head of the museum's new building program. "We'll have public spaces and artists creating art, master classes, and a beautiful theater in the basement. It's a great thing for the city."

Landmark West, however, had a vastly different reaction to yesterday's vote, which is the final government action required before the sale can take place.

"We were hoping to see leadership from the board," said Kate Wood, executive director of Landmark West. "We are extremely disappointed it didn't come through."

Wood said the group, which collected over 1,000 signatures, will continue to press a lawsuit.

"What we've been asking for is a public hearing for the Landmark's Preservation Commission," Wood said.

Manhattan councilman Bill Perkins was the lone vote against the sale.

"This is a precious piece of property," he said. "I thought it was important that we take a position that respected the architectural and historical significance."

Originally published on August 25, 2004

All contents © 2004 Daily News, L.P.

August 28th, 2004, 12:24 AM
Well... I don't know if I am going to miss the white-marble facade that much. It needs a facelift of new modern architecture. I will give an OK to the museum to do what is best for "the lollipop building". :wink:

August 28th, 2004, 11:00 AM
Am not one of those who will miss 2 Columbus. The thing has always been hideous. Good riddance!

October 21st, 2004, 10:56 AM
New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com
Landmarking's blasted
Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

Author Tom Wolfe wants New Yorkers to know the city Landmarks Preservation Commission is a bunch of spineless bureaucrats - and he held a press conference yesterday to say so. Then he went in to tell the City Council.

Wolfe lampooned the commission's refusal to consider the Lollipop building at 2 Columbus Circle for landmark protection. He said the city - which is selling the building - has given the word to the commission to pretend the property's invisible.

And he's only one of many who think the commission has become a tool of big money and big developers - from midtown to mid-Harlem.

"When anyone asks about 2 Columbus Circle, the commissioners dive under their desks," the author of "The Bonfire of the Vanities" said on the steps of City Hall, dressed in his signature white suit, with a navy-blue cape to ward off the chill. Manhattan's borough board voted to sell Lollipop to the Museum of Arts & Design, which plans to remove the facade.

Throughout its 40-year history, the building has been fiercely derided by critics for its odd look. Others defend it with equal ferocity.

Yesterday, Landmarks Commission chairman Bob Tierney defended the agency without singling out any property.

"I've never seen a more committed, skilled group of people in government in my life," Tierney told the City Council.

But Wolfe has been campaigning to save 2 Columbus Circle. He told the Daily News that driving his efforts is his admiration for the building's architect, Edward Durell Stone - who defied architectural trends of his day.

"Stone was trying to show a way out of Modernism - which was so constipated," said Wolfe, whose latest novel, "I Am Charlotte Simmons," comes out in three weeks.

The hearing - held by the council's landmarks subcommittee - drew an overflow crowd of angry preservationists. About 50 were allowed to stay in the hearing room at 250 Broadway. The rest were sent to a nearby cafeteria to wait.

When Councilwoman Margarita Lopez (D-Manhattan) arrived, 100 people were already in the building lobby, waiting to be allowed upstairs. "Obviously, the number of people who are here indicates there is a problem with landmarking," she said.

Subcommittee chairman Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) warned that the testimony could only be about the administrative practices of the landmarks commission - which is short-staffed and gets 200 landmarking applications each year. But even fellow council members such as Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan) aired their specific concerns anyway.

"Harlem is a community going through a lot of changes - maybe the whole district is a landmark," said Perkins. "We don't want there to be a wholesale bulldozing of property - like St. Thomas."

A famous church in the neighborhood, St. Thomas the Apostle, is slated for demolition - and has never had a landmarks hearing.

October 21st, 2004, 02:48 PM
People in this forum go nuts over any pretty rendering. Properly restored this could be a truly interesting building, with many more uses than just a trendy art gallery for 5 years. These diaphonous facades are going to look like crap after a few years anyway. Restore the bizarre moorish/modernist/postmodernist limestone box!





October 21st, 2004, 02:58 PM
If they don't restore it, they should tear it down.

If the building has no preservation merit, then the proposed alterations don't justify occupying this prime site.

October 21st, 2004, 03:00 PM

October 21st, 2004, 03:03 PM

I've "aped" another's post.

October 21st, 2004, 04:16 PM
I get a kick out of people talking about this building's architectural significance. In my book, architectural significance comes as a result of a building succeeding as a space for some particular function. That was obviously not the case for this particular building, evidenced by its emptiness in recent years. In fact, this building failed just about every one of its proposed functions over the years.

October 30th, 2004, 10:56 AM
You forgot to post this:

October 4, 2004

Taming the Beast From 1965


A rendering of 2 Columbus Circle.

Whatever you think of 2 Columbus Circle, that odd marble curiosity designed by Edward Durell Stone to house a supermarket heir's art collection, it certainly incites passion. The building, which is expected to undergo a drastic recladding and renovation and become the new home of the Museum of Arts and Design, has been the focus of one of the most volatile preservation battles in recent memory.

Now, in an effort to drum up support for its plans, the museum has invited a handpicked audience of civic leaders and news media organizations to view some minor revisions to its architectural design. Clearly it hopes that the event will turn attention to the future, sweeping preservationists' objections aside.

The design, by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture, has been altered to improve circulation and create more space for the galleries. The architect has also contrived to play up the contrast between past and present: the new design would give passers-by a chance to glimpse the building's famous old lollipop-shaped columns through sections of translucent glass on the ground floor.

But these are minor changes. The building's original white marble cladding and porthole windows would be eliminated - and its essential character would be lost.

You can make a convincing argument that there is not much worth saving here. By any standard, Stone's building is awkward. Its facade is a garish interpretation of Venetian palazzos; its interiors, which include a warren of staircases, are cramped and confused.

But the building's importance has less to do with its design than with the role it has played in New York's architectural landscape. Stone was a major figure in American architecture, and his Columbus Circle building, completed in 1965, is among a handful of works that represent a turning point in his career, when he rejected some of the tenets of late Modernism in favor of a more overt historicism. For us, it is a reminder that Modernism did not always follow a straight, unbroken path.

More critically, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission continues to refuse to hold a public hearing to determine the building's historic importance. Could that be because the Bloomberg administration, which has offered the museum a $2 million incentive if it completes the project by 2007, sees it as a major feature of its plans for redeveloping Columbus Circle?

It seems that private interests are once again being favored above the broader public realm. Stone's design, and the people of this city, deserve more respect than this.

The strength of Stone's building, in fact, stems from its spirit of aggression. The building's concave facade essentially turns its back on Columbus Circle. Its galleries, clad in a dark walnut veneer and pierced by small portholes at the corners, conjure the musty atmosphere of a private men's club. That aggression was not by accident. Conceived a few years after the completion of Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building, the design was meant as a counterattack against the stripped-down functionalism of much postwar American architecture.

Rather than play up these tensions, Cloepfil's design glosses over them. The only major concession to the building's history occurs on the ground floor. (In the earlier version of the design, the lollipop-shaped columns were hidden behind opaque glass on both sides, so that they were virtually invisible.) In the new version, the upper section of the glass facade is translucent, so that the silhouettes of the columns' circular tops would be visible from the street.

Inside the lobby, the glass barrier has been removed so that the columns are completely exposed. But the result seems more like an effort to appease the project's opponents than a sincere attempt to come to terms with the building's history.

The rest of the facade is wrapped inside a new skin of terra-cotta panels. A series of narrow slots cut up and across the building's facade as they rise, creating a geometric pattern of incisions that allow light to flow into the building.

The incisions evoke the rough openings that the artist Gordon Matta-Clark carved through abandoned buildings in New York in the 1970's. But Cloepfil's design is far more polite than Matta-Clark's work. The incisions are covered in translucent glass that is flush with the building's facade, so that the violence of the cuts is completely lost.

The result looks timid. Seen from across Columbus Circle, it would fit nicely with the sanitized vision of the Time Warner Center next door.

Cloepfil's design is far more persuasive when you reach the galleries. Visitors would enter them from an elegant steel staircase that rises from a corner of the lobby. They would then continue up through the galleries along a series of switchback stairs tucked behind the elevator core. By creating a more compact circulation system, Cloepfil is able to squeeze in roughly 3,000 square feet of additional gallery space.

The cuts, too, seem more effective inside. On one of the gallery floors, for example, a single two-foot-wide incision cuts across the ceiling to create a narrow clerestory window just below the ceiling. From here the incision turns vertically downward to offer a narrow view of the city outside before turning once again and cutting across the floor so that visitors would get a fragmented view of others passing underneath.

But the same effect could probably have been achieved without stripping away so much of the building's identity. And the stronger contrast between new and old may have enlivened the design.

The point, in any case, is that these issues have not been fully explored by the city or the architect. The entire debate has been reduced to a question of simple tastes.

The real aim of this design is to cleanse the site of uncomfortable historical memories and thereby make it more palatable for powerful real estate interests. And this is a dangerous sign for the future.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

October 31st, 2004, 04:52 PM
I guess I'm a philistine (the horror!) but I would like to see this building put to productive use. For too long it stood as a symbol of decaying obsolescence alongside the former Coliseum. It deserves better. But what? Unfortunately, buildings can not be maintained in storage to be displayed for the occasional historical survey as in an art museum. Architecture must somehow adapt and live in its everchanging environment. I would be more convincingly persuaded if alternative uses (with financing) were proposed instead of putting the museum in a bind so late in the game. I sense a whiff of power poltics behind the aesthetic posturing.

November 28th, 2004, 11:07 PM
2 Columbus Circle And The Need To Preserve Preservation (http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/feature-commentary/20041125/202/1197)

January 13th, 2005, 12:56 PM

Pity the Architect

If no one loves 2 Columbus Circle, why stop him from redesigning it?

By Alex French

Stone's building, and Cloepfil's proposed one. (Photo credit: From left, Richard B. Levine; North Elevation Rendering/Courtesy of Allied Works Architecture)

It isn’t every architect who has to contend with an elite aesthetic revolt against his commission, much less a two-part New York Times op-ed by Tom Wolfe. But such is the situation Brad Cloepfil, 48, finds himself in while redesigning 2 Columbus Circle for its new tenant, the Museum of Arts & Design. Defending the eccentric older structure, designed in 1965 by Edward Durrell Stone, has become a sort of cause célèbre for the city’s cognoscenti, including Chuck Close, Lindy Roy, and Frank Stella.

Nobody is arguing that the building is attractive—one defender, Robert A.M. Stern, calls it a “public provocation”—just significant. With its concave façade, Taj Mahal grillwork, and loggias, 2 Columbus is a piece of modern architecture that breaks all the rules of modernism. As Wolfe wrote in his op-ed, “The gods of the International Style, Corbusier, Mies and Gropius, shuddered.” He meant it in a good way. “The thing is that Tom Wolfe isn’t an architecture critic,” says Cloepfil, who thought 2 Columbus “was a telephone transformer building” when he first saw it in 1978. “He’s an architectural populist. The building was being used as a symbol of his lifelong crusade against modern architecture.”

As soon as the end of January, the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court will hand down a decision that could halt the sale of 2 Columbus. Preservationists argued before the court that the city, in its move to sell the building, failed to consider the environmental impact of “obliterat[ing] the existing architecture.”

If allowed to proceed, Cloepfil plans to replace the marble façade with a skin of glazed terra-cotta panels, incised to let light in—a makeover that the Times’ Herbert Muschamp called “an unwelcome exercise in caution.” Which also flummoxes Cloepfil, who’s built a much-praised light-filled museum in St. Louis. “To try to make this little building more than it is doesn’t make sense,” he says. “It would look absurd next to the Time Warner Center.” But he did keep the derided “Venetian lollipop” columns as a sop to the neo-sentimentalists.


January 13th, 2005, 05:09 PM
This whole controversy can definately be filed in "only in NYC" folder. A group of noisy activists rally to preserve a building that is generally agreed upon to be ugly.

I love this City <---I mean that--no irony.

February 24th, 2005, 01:24 AM

February 24th, 2005, 02:15 PM
I like the re-design. 2 Columbus Circle is ugly, IMO.

February 24th, 2005, 03:50 PM
I like both of them... they are equally good...

I think they should building the new one somewhere else in the city that had a round about -- maybe in brooklyn?

February 25th, 2005, 08:15 AM
February 25, 2005

Museum Wins a Court Battle on Columbus Circle Renovation

By DAVID W. DUNLAP (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=DAVID%20W.%20DUNLAP&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=DAVID%20W.%20DUNLAP?inline=nyt-per)

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/dropcap/a.giffter being delayed more than a year by litigation, the plan to reclad and recreate 2 Columbus Circle as the new home of the Museum of Arts and Design is poised to proceed after a court decision in its favor yesterday.

A five-judge panel of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court unanimously upheld the earlier dismissal by Justice Walter B. Tolub of a lawsuit against the reconstruction project by three preservation groups - Landmark West, Historic Districts Council and Docomomo.

"Now, we're full steam ahead," said Laurie Beckelman, the director of the new building program at the museum. She said the project, designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture, might begin by the middle of this year and be completed in mid-2007.

The executive director of Landmark West, Kate Wood, said the groups would explore "all of our options," including further appeals.

Supported by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the groups had challenged the environmental review of the project and the failure by the Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold a public hearing on 2 Columbus Circle. The marble-clad, nine-story building by Edward Durell Stone, originally Huntington Hartford's Gallery of Modern Art, is admired by some as a milestone of romantic modernism and deplored by others as a blank-walled bit of 1960's kitsch.

The commission's designation committee decided in 1996 that landmark status was not warranted, so no public hearing was ever held.

In its decision, the Appellate Division panel said it found no merit "to the contention that the Landmarks Preservation Commission was obligated to hold a public hearing before declining to calendar a request for the property's designation."

Robert B. Tierney, the commission chairman, said the decision affirmed the integrity of the landmarks law and the way the commission conducted its business. "Based on everything I know, have seen and have read," he said, "I have chosen not to change that 1996 determination," meaning that the Museum of Arts and Design can proceed with its reconstruction plan, which includes a new terra-cotta facade, without review by the commission.

The museum, now at 40 West 53rd Street, plans to buy 2 Columbus Circle from the city for $17 million and reconstruct it for about $30 million. After the suit was filed in 2003, however, it put the acquisition on hold. "The board felt they had a fiduciary responsibility to be out of the court," Ms. Beckelman said.

In a related case, the city's Law Department said yesterday that it had received a decision by Justice Harold B. Beeler of State Supreme Court dismissing Landmark West's challenge to a meeting of the Manhattan borough board on the 2 Columbus Circle plan. The group had charged that the meeting took place without proper notice.

But Ms. Wood said preservationists would not give up their fight.

"It's absolutely right that we're pursuing this," she said, "on behalf of 2 Columbus Circle and how many more buildings will be lost because of the ton of wiggle room being given to the city to hold its meetings behind closed doors."

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

February 25th, 2005, 02:05 PM
Great! I cant wait to see the finished product! :)

May 26th, 2005, 12:33 PM
May 25, 2005

Museum of Arts & Design signs contract for Lollipop Bldg

by Wendy Blake

The Museum of Arts & Design announced the signing of the contract for the purchase of 2 Columbus Circle from the city of New York. The signing allows the museum to move forward with controversial plans to create a new home in the so-called Lollipop Building, which preservationists consider a prime example of midcentury design.

The museum was chosen in 2002 to redevelop the building, which has been vacant since 1998. The institution plans to begin construction as early as this fall, and the museum plans to move into its new building in 2007.

But, for the plan’s opponents, the battle is not over. Preservationist group Landmarks West! recently hired consulting firm The Advance Group, which helped union workers in their fight to save rooms at the Plaza Hotel, to launch a campaign aimed at preserving the structure. The initial goal is to get the Landmarks Preservation Commission to reconsider its decision not to hold hearings on the 41-year-old building.


May 27th, 2005, 01:15 PM
May 27, 2005

Group Seeks Removal of Landmarks Chairman


A preservation group filed a court petition yesterday accusing Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission, of colluding with the buyer of a building at Columbus Circle to prevent the structure from winning landmark status, and seeking his removal.

The legal plea reached State Supreme Court just one day after the Museum of Arts and Design signed a contract to buy 2 Columbus Circle from the city. The petition asks that Mr. Tierney be barred from any further decision-making on whether a commission hearing is held on the 1965 building's eligibility for protection as a landmark.

The action was brought by Landmark West, a community group on the Upper West Side that joined other preservationist groups in their decade-long effort to seek a commission hearing on 2 Columbus Circle, designed by Edward Durell Stone and known for its"'lollipop" motif.

Accusing the museum of entering a conspiracy' to block a hearing, Landmark West is seeking an impartial consideration of the issue by the commission. It argues that Mr. Tierney personally favored the museum's plan to renovate the building, thereby thwarting a hearing.

The petition also faults Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for publicly lauding the proposed redesign of the building at the news conference at which it was unveiled in 2003. The petition argues that his action posed a conflict of interest because he was a member of the museum's board.

As proof that Mr. Tierney lacked objectivity, the petition attaches examples of his frequent e-mail exchanges with Laurie Beckelman, the director of the museum's new building program and a former landmarks commission chairman.

In a message dated May 2, 2003, that accompanied a letter from someone expressing opposition to the plan for 2 Columbus Circle, Mr. Tierney asks Ms. Beckelman, "Laurie, Do you want to see some, all or any of these letters?" Ms. Beckelman responds: "I would really appreciate seeing all of them, if it is not too much trouble. Thanks, Laurie."

On May 9, 2003, the day after Community Board 5 voted on the sale of the building, Ms. Beckelman writes: "We got the vote 18-8, but I see trouble ahead. Thanks for all of your support, Laurie." Mr. Tierney replies: "Let me know how I can help on the trouble ahead. Bob."

The petition by Landmark West states that "ex parte communications between an interested party and the presiding officer of the Landmarks Preservation were in direct violation" of the New York City Charter and Administrative Code. It demands that Ms. Beckelman and other museum officials "cease and desist from any direct or indirect ex parte communication" with Mr. Tierney or other commission members.

The group obtained the e-mail through the Freedom of Information Act, said Kate Wood, executive director of Landmark West.

Reached by telephone yesterday, Mr. Tierney said he was unaware of the petition. "I don't know anything about this," he said. "I can't say anything to you about it." Ms. Beckelman also declined to comment because she had not seen the petition.

Construction is to begin at 2 Columbus Circle this fall on a new Museum of Arts and Design designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture, in collaboration with Gary Edward Handel & Associates. In addition to interior renovations, the design would eliminate the marble surface and porthole windows.

This is only the latest legal action taken by Landmark West. In March, with property owners in the Parc Vendome condominiums near Columbus Circle, it sought to block the building's sale on the ground that it was conducted without due process.

In its petition, Landmark West seeks compensatory damages of "not less than $130,000" and punitive damages of $1 million, to be used to support landmark activities.

Originally designed in the 1960's to house the modern art collection of the businessman Huntington Hartford, the building was acquired by the city in 1975 and later housed its Cultural Affairs Department. It has been vacant since 1998.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

June 17th, 2005, 11:01 AM
Please help in the effort to protect the landmarking process, which means holding public hearings on eligible buildings.
Landmark West! is organizing this evening event to encircle 2 Columbus Circle with people in support of fair process.
Bring your friends on Thursday and share this notice widely.



Hands around 2 Columbus Circle! Join supporters of a public hearing for Edward Durell Stone's iconic 1964 design in forming a "circle of support" all the way around the building's famous lollipop base.

WHEN: Thursday, June 23, 6:00 PM
WHERE: 2 Columbus Circle
WHY: To urge Mayor Bloomberg and the Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold a public hearing

WHAT you can do right now: Call Mayor Bloomberg (212-788-3000) and ask to leave a message for him in support of a public hearing for 2 Columbus Circle. (We've been standing in Columbus Circle all morning with cell phones asking people to make these calls, and the more calls Mayor Bloomberg gets the better!)

This message is more urgent than ever! Stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow New Yorkers to make sure that our voices are heard louder than ever. The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) recently signed a contract to buy the building and filed for a permit to remove its facade, which could be granted at any time. The bulldozers aren't on their way - yet. Let's keep them away from 2 Columbus Circle - and from our Landmarks process. Remember what New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp wrote about 2 Columbus Circle back in December 2003: "The refusal of the New York City Landmarks Commission to hold hearings on the future of 2 Columbus Circle is a shocking dereliction of public duty. Unacceptable in itself, this abdication also raises the scary question of what other buildings the commission might choose to overlook in future."

The Mayor and the Landmarks Commission must not continue to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear. Stand up for due process! Stand up for Modern architecture! Stand up for landmarks! Just STAND UP - and show up! See you on the 23rd...

With any questions, call LANDMARK WEST! at 212-496-8110 or email us at landmarkwest@landmarkwest.org.


June 17th, 2005, 02:45 PM
It's a crappy looking building that doesn't deserve preservation. That's like saying we should preserve the base of the post office on 3rd avenue and 55th street.

June 17th, 2005, 03:35 PM
God I hate that building. It's the biggest blight on the West Side. If so-called "preservationists" believe this slum is worthy of landmarking, they have truly lost their minds. This building is only exceptional in it's incredible ugliness.

June 17th, 2005, 04:27 PM
Back in the 70's-80's, my parents were friendly with "Ed" Stone (this building's architect) and his wife - they vacationed with them in the Caribbean a couple of times.....ANYWAY, according to my Dad, Edward Durrell Stone's own words about this building were, "what was I thinking?"

June 17th, 2005, 07:55 PM
Earth to "Landmark West" committee: Stone's building isn't Penn Station. Stop campaigning to have the West Side stuck in amber. Let that windowless abomination go!

June 17th, 2005, 08:15 PM
I'm certainly in the minority here but it's always been a favourite of mine. Hardly a "windowless abomination," more something with a monumental flavour. It carries a gravitas sorely lacking among many of the flashier Midtown facades. In addition, it is a fine example of how modernism transitioned to postmodernism, and that alone makes it rather more architecturally significant than the typically less meaningful subjects of preservation debates.

June 17th, 2005, 09:58 PM
Back in the 70's-80's, my parents were friendly with "Ed" Stone (this building's architect) and his wife - they vacationed with them in the Caribbean a couple of times.....ANYWAY, according to my Dad, Edward Durrell Stone's own words about this building were, "what was I thinking?"

Hahaha, this is why I love this forum. Where else could one find such information? In any case, it doesn't really surprise me. I really don't know what Edward Stone was thinking when he designed this building. Maybe he was under the influence of some hallucinogenic. Definitely not worth preserving. Although it seems some people want it left untouched, they're definitely in the minority. More specifically, they're in the minority that would preserve anything, no matter how ugly it looked. Speaking of preserving anything, does anyone have any information on the residential buildings immediately to the east of Columbus Circle, on Central Park South between Broadway and 7th? Some of them almost look like buildings you would see in slums. They just appear very rundown and dirty. Are they considered high-end buildings, and does anyone know if developers have proposed to tear them down and build anew?

June 17th, 2005, 10:44 PM
I'd rather the thing be given a new bottom third and the rest cleaned. But that's not going to happen.

June 18th, 2005, 06:39 PM
"Speaking of preserving anything, does anyone have any information on the residential buildings immediately to the east of Columbus Circle, on Central Park South between Broadway and 7th? Some of them almost look like buildings you would see in slums".

The brick building at the corner was an important apartment building when it went up in the early 40´s. You can see how it´s design is very modern for the era. Gene Kelly lived there (and I can´t remember why I know that). But even 30 years ago, I remember the building looking rather run-down.

June 18th, 2005, 07:06 PM
oh boy... I can´t believe I´m saying this, but I´d tear all this stuff down in a minute... I think we could do a lot better today. The curved balcony building is sort of interesting in a Buenos Aries kind of way...

June 18th, 2005, 09:56 PM
Wow, Fab, I actually distinctly remember the first time I took notice of the curved building about 5 years ago, thinking that it looked exactly like something out of Buenos Aires. Talk about thinking along the same lines! Anyway, I definitely agree that the rest of those buildings deserve either demolition or extensive touching-up. They are not worthy of being on Central Park South. I still can't figure out how they've been there for so long, in such poor condition.

June 19th, 2005, 12:17 AM
210 Central Park South is a tragedy -- this is (was) a beautiful Moderne building that recently has had really BAD brick replacement work done and a hodge-podge of new windows installed. (And Let's not even talk about the horrible Kinko's awning + signage at the corner of CPS & Bway.)

The mosaic tile work above the entry way is fantastic.

If the owners (don't know if it's condo or what) would take more pride in their great building & location it would be a boon to NYers and all those who pass by this intersection. Especially now that the Columbus Circle "park" is almost complete the building only looks more tawdry. :-((

June 19th, 2005, 12:51 AM
Are you talking about the building on the corner of Broadway and CPS or 7th and CPS? The one we're most upset about is 240 CPS, which I believe is on the corner of Broadway (unless the above post by Law & Order is incorrect).

June 19th, 2005, 03:56 AM
I remember reading an article about 240 a few years ago describing the botched restoration work. There are few 1940´s moderne style apt. buildings in manhattan of this size. There´s a beautiful one with curved windows on (I think) 55th between 5th and 6th. It may even be from the late 30´s. Anyone know? It has always been beautifully maintained.

June 19th, 2005, 08:33 AM
I was referring to the one on the corner of Bway & CPS -- I wrote 210 but should have written 240 CPS.

Law & Order
June 19th, 2005, 02:48 PM
Are you talking about the building on the corner of Broadway and CPS or 7th and CPS? The one we're most upset about is 240 CPS, which I believe is on the corner of Broadway (unless the above post by Law & Order is incorrect).

240 CPS is on the corner of Broadway and CPS, at Columbus Circle. Thank You for trusting me.

June 20th, 2005, 01:29 AM
Although it seems some people want it left untouched, they're definitely in the minority. More specifically, they're in the minority that would preserve anything, no matter how ugly it looked.

Lies meant to discredit any preservation effort. Who are you to impose an objective standard of ugliness? I happen to not think very highly of the Empire State Building...it's a personal aesthetic preference, just as yours to hate 2 Columbus Circle.

Even more absurd are those here who would tear down buildings of significant merit or interest (like 240 CPS) for being a bit sooty. Haven't any of you heard of a good scrub?

June 20th, 2005, 02:13 AM
Lies meant to discredit any preservation effort. Who are you to impose an objective standard of ugliness? I happen to not think very highly of the Empire State Building...it's a personal aesthetic preference, just as yours to hate 2 Columbus Circle.

Even more absurd are those here who would tear down buildings of significant merit or interest (like 240 CPS) for being a bit sooty. Haven't any of you heard of a good scrub?

First off, even some members who are usually in favor of preserving historic buildings find 240 Central Park South to be garbage. I personally have the feeling of being in a Latin American slum, as opposed to Central Park South. This, even after certain renovations have taken place (See lofter1's post). I certainly wouldn't mind if this building was restored to its original grandeur, but it seems it has been run-down for a long time, and deserves to be replaced by something that looks nicer.

Secondly, I am not imposing by ideas of ugliness upon anyone here. This is a forum for open discussion, and I am simply putting forth my opinions, which aren't formed irrationally or on a whim, but after some thought about what merits a building from demolition. Granted, a certain part of my decision will be influenced by my subjective standards of what is architecturally beautiful. I agree that many buildings are simply too historic, despite their beauty or ugliness, to be demolished. I happen to also not like the Empire State Building too much, but it has a unique place in New York's history and as a landmark. 240 CPS and 2CC, on the other hand, don't.

Thirdly, I'm going to stand by my statement that some people will seek to preserve anything for the sake of preservation because there are certain people who simply don't want to see any change. There's even a discussion going on about new benches and trees being opposed in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn, in favor of keeping old benches that are falling apart. Even some of the proverbial NIMBY's consider this absurd and extreme behavior. For me personally, change is something that can be good or bad. Demolishing the old Penn Station to build MSG = bad. Preserving Grand Central Station = good. Defending a non-unique, old brick building simply because it has been around for 60 years, on the other hand, is an illogical stance taken by some people who cannot feel optimistic about change, and therefore end up hurting their neighborhood as it continues to crumble.

June 20th, 2005, 03:07 AM
A nice patina of age can be beautiful ...but the problem with 240 is that decades of bad restoration work has left it looking forlorn. To restore brick in a uniform color and bring back window casings in the proper style would certainly be too costly. There were beautiful mosaics at the entrance... I´m wondering in what condition they´re in today. A building like this was given little consideration in decades past and you have to remember that after WWII, Central Park South was not such an exclusive street ....even less so at Columbus Circle. I´m sure that a great case could be made for preserving this building, but if it were bought out by a developer and a name architect stepped in with a sensitive design worthy of the "new" Columbus Circle .....I wouldn´t miss 240.

June 20th, 2005, 10:15 AM
I agree with Fabrizio. I think it is a worthy building that has had a Frankenstein series of renovations with absolutely no regard for aesthetic, history, context and, frankly, taste. The building itself is "of a time", but should the property manager ever get the sight back in his good eye, he will see the hatchet job the repairs and "renovations" have done to the building.

June 20th, 2005, 10:24 AM
He did see it, but the thing he saw first was the $$ of doing it.

No matter how you look at it, he is earning dump-loads of $$ with doing very little to the building itself.

So what incentive is there for him to do anything that will cost him twice as much as he ever stands to get in return?

As for 2 Columbus, it is a dumpy marble block stuck in the circle like some sort of walkway marking stone.

It is not attractive, it is not functional. I do not consider it heinous, but it is not a treasure either.

Just because something is different, and expensive to produce, does not always mean it is fit for saving. the lack of functionality and the years of neglect have rendered this central air conditioning/tunnel vent looking building a useless bit of eccentric architectural history that even the people that are preserving it have, are, and will never visit.

So I do believe it should have a formal hearing, and arguments be presented fairly on both sides. If they want to tear it down to put in an Old Navy I would be much more in favor of the existing than the proposed, but if the cities plans are for a cultural center or even a small performing arts venue for the area, I would be all in favor of demolishing this elitist impractical private art showroom.

June 20th, 2005, 01:28 PM
Preservation for the sake of preservation is certainly intellectually lazy. But undermining the potential of saving structures which may have not been as significant historically or architecturally as others might result in a lost opportunity. Perhaps bland as architectural specimens in and of themselves, having witnessed few events of historical note, historic districts of rowhouses are routinely preserved in the city solely to maintain their gestalt.

I think 2CC and 240CPS are both architecturally significant and every effort should be made to preserve and restore them on that basis. However, they do add something, moreover, to their surroundings aesthetically which is difficult to quantify. 2CC's intended use and perhaps symbolism of this is indeed ridiculous, but it confers a monumental solemnity on the circle better than the monument at its centre, even, and proves a sharp contrast to the glam of commercial Midtown. Similarly, the moderne lines of 240CPS suggest motion and aerodynamics, the perfect counterpart to a thriving traffic circle. Both buildings save the circle from becoming bland, shimmering facsimilies of the nearby Time Warner Center and characteristically flashy Trump building- they ground the circle in the reality of a New York emergent from history and not merely one that has metamorphosised overnight into a collection of glass temples. Columbus Circle should not become a glossed-over New Times Square for urban sophisticates.

June 20th, 2005, 03:01 PM
240 doesn´t suggest motion and aerodynamics to me (although much of the moderne style does). 240 is tidy and rational. More like a forerunner to the Manhattan House on 3rd and 65th (built 10 years after 240).

I too would not want to see this replaced with a glass building. There should be zoning laws requiring certain materials on an avenue like this. But imagine something of brick and limestone.

June 21st, 2005, 02:03 AM
I'm ignorant entirely of construction techniques. Would it be altogether impractical to furnish 240 with a handsome, tasteful new exoskeleton? If anything, I like its form.

June 21st, 2005, 09:01 AM

First off, I think you are taking about the Facade, not any kind of Exoskeleton.

An Exoskeleton would be exterior framing and or bracing as seen on buildings like the Sears Tower and several others in high-seismic areas. The facade is more like a skin.

And yes, it would be VERY expensive to re-clad a building......

June 21st, 2005, 09:34 AM
One thing I find interesting and, surprisingly, the strongest argument for preserving (landmarking) 2CC is the strong emotional response it gets. Recollecting many of the other threads here over the past years, I cannot recall any one structure eliciting such a visceral reaction from people. Would such a reaction not be indicative of something worthy of saving, even if just to preserve it to say - "Can you believe there was a time when they would even build something this [insert expletive here] ugly?"

It does represent a watermark of some type in building, design, and planning that, if lost, might oft be repeated.

June 21st, 2005, 10:23 AM
June 21, 2005
2 Columbus Circle Makes Group's List of Threatened Sites

Edward Durell Stone's porthole-studded building at 2 Columbus Circle, Mexico City's historic center and every "cultural heritage" site in Iraq have been added to the World Monuments Fund watch list of most endangered sites, to be released today. Preservationists have been protesting plans to reclad and recreate 2 Columbus Circle as the new home of the Museum of Arts and Design, arguing that the 1964 building represents a turning point in Modernist design.

In an era of growing calls for the preservation of Modernist architecture, the 2006 watch list includes nine 20th-century sites. "There are enough people out there calling attention to the fact that we're losing these buildings that there is a kind of groundswell," said Bonnie Burnham, the fund's president.

Beyond 2 Columbus Circle, the Modern group includes the Cyclorama Center in Gettysburg, Pa., built from 1958 to 1961 to house a panoramic painting that depicts the final battle there; Konstantin Melnikov's House Studio in Moscow (1927-1929), a cylindrical building that the avant-garde architect designed for his family; and the historic city center of Asmara, a series of strikingly Modernist buildings in Eritrea built by Italian occupiers from 1936 to 1941.

Since Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after several years of fighting, efforts to restore and preserve neglected or war-ravaged cultural sites have gained momentum. Two other sites in that country made the list: the late-14th-century Kidane-Mehret Church, representative of indigenous craftsmanship (it was built in the monkey-head style, where the rounded ends of timber beams stick out of striated stone walls, resembling monkey heads); and the historic town of Massawa, a port city successively ruled by the Ottoman Turks, Egypt and Italy that retains architectural features of each culture.

The Iraqi monuments are listed as a single entry on the roster of 100 sites, which is drawn up every two years with input from preservation groups, archaeologists and government agencies.

Ms. Burnham said it was the first time that essentially an entire country had been listed.

"Everything that is cultural in Iraq is threatened at the moment," she said. "We really couldn't see any other way to address it."

Mexico City's historic center, which includes the main public square and colonial-era buildings, was included on the list to draw attention to environmental problems there, particularly the threat of sinking caused by rising water tables, Ms. Burnham said.

The selections are made by a rotating panel of experts who evaluate the sites' significance, the urgency of their condition and the viability of the nominator's proposal to protect them. Several sites are relisted. Among those that were on the 2004 watch list are Little Hagia Sophia, the oldest preserved Byzantine church in Istanbul, which was converted to a mosque in 1504 but is closed because of structural damage; Frank Lloyd Wright's 1924 Ennis-Brown House in Los Angeles, one of four textile-block houses that the architect built from local materials; and the Panama Canal area, which the fund says is threatened by development pressures and a lack of regulation.

"Some of these sites are so much on the tourist circuit that people don't really think about the conservation issues," Ms. Burnham said, citing, for example, the formerly listed Taj Mahal and Pompeii.

Sites can also be unglamorous, like a fish processing site in British Columbia that once made the list, or hazy in origin, like the Pulemelei Mound in Samoa, a mysterious earth and stone monument built between 1100 and 1500 that made this year's list.

On watch in the United States are the bluegrass cultural landscape of Kentucky, whose horse farms and training stables are threatened by urban sprawl; Hanging Flume in Montrose Country, Colo., a 13-mile-long track that was used for hydraulic gold mining in the late 19th century; and the Ellis Island baggage and dormitory building in New York, where immigrants waited to be processed for arrival or deported.

This year's list has sites from 55 countries on all 7 continents, including Antarctica, the fund said. There is Tell Balatah from the Palestinian territories, thought by some scholars to be the biblical city of Shechem; the Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain, whose rough-hewn granite blocks are being eroded by pollutants; the International Fairground, built between 1963 and 1975 in Tripoli, Lebanon, which faces possible conversion into an amusement park; and the Teatro Capitolio in Lisbon, a 1930's theater that has been closed since the 1980's and is slated for demolition.

There are six sites in China, two of which - the Cockcrow Post Town in Huailai and the Tianshui Traditional Houses in Gansu Province - have been relisted. As development gains speed there, Ms. Burnham said, "towns are rapidly disappearing."

Among the other sites included for the first time this year are Afghanistan's oldest mosque, the Haji Piyada in the northern province of Balkh, whose mud-brick and stucco decorations date from the ninth century; the Tarrafal concentration camp (1933) on Santiago Island in Cape Verde, which housed political opponents of Salazar's fascists and, later, African nationalists rebelling against colonial rule; and Hemingway's house in Cuba (1886), where the author wrote works including "For Whom the Bell Tolls," "The Old Man and the Sea" and "A Moveable Feast."

The fund is one of several organizations that have watch lists. (Unesco maintains the World Heritage List, for example.) It is privately financed and funnels aid to preservationist efforts. Since 1996, it has distributed about $35 million.


June 21st, 2005, 10:50 AM

I just find it silly/boring.

June 21st, 2005, 02:14 PM
Oops, I was using exoskeleton metaphorically. Of course I meant new facade. I didn't even know "exoskeleton" referred to something specifically (outside the insect world, at least).

June 21st, 2005, 02:38 PM
Exoskeletal means that the structure is on the outside, like an insect. The WTC and the new Hearst tower are partly exoskeletal, as a great deal of the load is carried on the outside skin (helped by the core). This allows column-free space, of course.
CZSZ, I really like your eloquent arguments for 2CC. I agree completely.

June 22nd, 2005, 07:03 PM
CZSZ, I really like your eloquent arguments for 2CC. I agree completely.
So do I, Cz.
What a little beauty! What a Circle! What a shame they’re going to dress down the little beauty in overalls.

These buildings make good music together. It helps that they play different tones:

A good neighbor:

June 22nd, 2005, 07:12 PM
It's really awful and will not be missed by most.

I think most of the preservation advocates are so vociferous in order to spite Time Warner and Trump, as its current dilapidated state undoutedly scares visitors and reduces neighborhood property values. The juxtaposition between Time Warner and the pigeon-scarred wreck across the street is ridiculous.

Allied Works has a wonderful design for the new museum and I look forward to its implementation.

June 22nd, 2005, 07:24 PM
A question: I find the wavy glass (look at the wavy reflections) on the TWC ugly and very cheap looking. Is this a construction defect? Or am I being picky? Look at the Trump World Tower as an example... the glass hangs falls perfectly flat and looks so much better.

June 22nd, 2005, 07:41 PM
Nope I think that is the way it is. I do like the glass though. TWC are just two beautiful towers. I love to see them all the time and visit them often.

Great photos ablarc! The reflection of 2CC on TWC is simply amazing yet ugly. 2CC needs renovation or a big clean up. But right now is the ugly ducklin on the circle.

June 22nd, 2005, 08:06 PM
For me the real ugly duckly on the circle is that blue apartment tower blocking the view of the Hearst Building. Really cheap.

Do this: scroll up and look at the grouping of the statue of Christopher Columbus, with 2 Columbus Circle and the brick building behind it. In the group I see solidity and harmony and a look that can only be NYC. 2 Columbus is ugly, but also has a cool elegant aspect ...perhaps because it´s small, well made and of limestone.

Now look at the assemblage to the right. The overwrought glitzy wavy-glassed Time Warner Shoppinig Mall and that hideous blue paneled apartment house.... ew.

June 22nd, 2005, 11:25 PM
Great pics...

And as previously mentioned, someone please build something really BIG on the SW corner of 58th & 8th to cover up and hide that ugly gangly green thing on the NW corner of 57th and 8th...
Aside from the Hearst Tower being a terrific building in itself, it serves a greater good by blocking out the aforementioned edifice when one is looking up 8th Ave from down near the deuce.

June 22nd, 2005, 11:28 PM
Egads ... in that big pic the jolly green giant is REALLY horrendous.

June 23rd, 2005, 12:01 AM
At least it has a certain slender elegance decidedly lacking in many a new condo tower today.

June 23rd, 2005, 02:03 AM
Instead of being fat and ugly it´s slender and ugly.

It looks like a communist-block office building. "The Tallest Building in Albania". Together with the glitzy, wavy glassed Time Warner base, the grouping looks like a third-world city playing catch-up.

June 23rd, 2005, 09:11 AM
My guess on the wavy is the way the glass is mounted to the facade. I do not see any lintels or seams on it, it appears to be hung with minimal window support to try to minimize the obstruction of view on the inside.

I would have to get in there and look out to see for sure.

But few buildings have, or would ever be able to give a mirror-perfect reflection of anything in glasswork, especially if they are using a minimalist support structure to hold it.

I kind of like the way the Center is built as an arc, I like the shape and style.

I do not like 90% of what is inside of it (Mall) but what can you do. For some reason these guys can't seem to get the idea that a place like the circle would have probably been the best place for an Atrium space reminiscent of Italy or France. If they had tried to make that mall a large eatery or the like instead of a typical mall space, I think it would have fit better and been received better by even the staunchest objectionists like Fab here... ;)

June 23rd, 2005, 09:30 AM
awesome contrast of styles! Great picture.

On the wavy-glass thing, I think it's a deliberate aesthetic choice, not a cost issue. It looks a bit like Ando's wavy concrete, more organic if you like.


June 23rd, 2005, 09:39 AM
The wavy glass on front looks to be a free-suspended facade using little spider joints.


Here is a manufacturers site:


They have a tendency to be wavier since the glass itself is supporting, well, itself. It is not being held by a frame, but connected at 4 corner points and bent very slightly because of it.

The bigger the piece of glass, the more chance of being wavy. The pics they chose in the "photo gallery" on that site are rather smooth, but I have a feeling they did that on purpose.

You may be right though, it may have been done intensionally, but I think that it was probably determined to not be a bad thing considering the cost for manufacture/construction if they had chosen a smoother end result...

June 23rd, 2005, 10:30 AM
That wavy glass is not on purpose. The architectural renderings show TWC with smooth glass. It most likely is the delicate contruction method that makes precision difficult.... a trade off for having large expanses of glass. Unfortunately I associate that wavy, reflective-glass look with cheap construction... the Trump Hotel at Grand Central is particularly bad (The reskinned Commodore Hotel).

Do note the Trump World Tower and the Olympic tower on 5th for examples of perfectly flat glass walls... so flat that these buildings sit beautifully next to stone. The Hearst Tower is another one with beautifully installed glass.... look at the photo that opens this web site..... it is neat and tailored. In comparison, the TWC looks garish.

The mall: I haven´t been there yet so I can speak about it, although I have seen photos. The mall concept has been critisced, but actually if you think about it, Rockefeller Center has had an underground shopping concorse since forever. Trump Tower on 5th is a shopping mall of sorts. Even NY´s grand department stores were always self contained shopping. TWC just pushes the concept farther. From what I´ve seen from the photos, the interior is not a great NY space... about on the level of every other swanky suburban shopping mall out on a highway.

June 23rd, 2005, 10:41 PM

Every time I glimpse her my heart skips a beat, but this little beauty just don’t get no respect. The wrong style at the wrong time, she was born to universal condemnation when Brutalism was the vogue du jour. Architects loathed the poor little thing so much that even her father disowned her “I don’t know what I was thinking,” disclaimed the once-eminent Mr. Stone, genius of MOMA-- when he should instead have been denying the shameful turd he laid on Central Park’s other corner to supplant the mighty Savoy Plaza.

Well, I know what he was thinking, the old closet Beaux-Artist. Sick of the ascetic strictures of orthodox Modernism, reeling from the concurrent demolition of Penn Station (hardly an architect stood to defend her, either, in 1964), perhaps atoning for having brought the scourge of Modernism to North America, Stone (that eternal iconoclast!) was thinking of actually doing something that was pretty (horrors!). Something pretty and feminine and Sullivanesque. Sullivanesque?? Yes Sullivanesque, like this:
Bayard Building

All delicacy and frill. Like the Bayard Building.

Venetian arcades at the top: like the Bayard Building.

Chaste and white and virginal, like the Bayard Building.

Exotic and vaguely oriental, like…

Base, shaft and capital…

Why, it even has lollipops.

Architects don’t know what to make of Sullivan’s only New York building either; it doesn’t fit their theory of Sullivan the proto-Modernist. So it languishes obscurely at Bleecker and Crosby, and like Stone’s little darlin’, she just don’t get no respect. An embarrassment. How could he have descended to such kitsch? Still, it is Sullivan… Fuhgeddaboudit.

Well, actually it’s not such aberrant Sullivan. Like Wainwright or Guaranty, it has all the hallmarks. But it does dare to be pretty…Shame on it.

Someone here said Stone's building was ugly. Accustomed as I am to seeing with my eyes rather than theories, I find that utterly incomprehensible. I can understand someone saying they don’t like it, I can understand pointing out that it’s grimy, I can see that it might be kitschy, like the much-lionized Fontainebleau; you can tell me that it was not true to its times, you can say that in this day and age no building should be allowed to be pretty, you can even say that prettiness is architectural weakness, and post-Modernism the work of the devil.

But you can’t tell me it’s ugly. Ernest Borgnine is ugly. And Audrey Hepburn is pretty. And this building is like Audrey Hepburn. You can tell me you don’t like Audrey Hepburn, but you can’t tell me she’s not pretty.

It’s good to set aside theories when looking at a building; eyes work better.

June 23rd, 2005, 10:56 PM
What days were those pictures taken?
All but the last two: June, 2004. The last two are from May 13, 2005.

June 23rd, 2005, 11:15 PM
ablarc: Great Post!!!

You might just win me over.

I'd never made the connection with the Bayard Building (which I can see up the street every time I step out my back door) ...

btw: The glass on the atrium at TW doesn't appear wavy when you're inside looking out --

June 24th, 2005, 09:30 AM
The guy who sits next to me here at work came here from Pelli. He worked on the Bloomberg Tower, which also has wavy glass, but not as obvious as on the TWC. He says that it was certainly not a cost issue. It resulted from partly an aesthetic choice, but mostly from the low-e glass that was necessary for energy requirements.


June 24th, 2005, 09:43 AM
Architecture Lovers Rally To Save 2 Columbus Circle


May 31, 2005

Some Manhattan architecture lovers rallied Tuesday to try to save one of Columbus Circle's most distinctive buildings. NY1’s Tanya Valle filed this report.

To some New Yorkers it's an eyesore. To others, 2 Columbus Circle is a work of art that shouldn't be destroyed.

"It’s part of the whole development of modern architecture, and our modern being as modern citizens, so you can’t sort of say, ‘Well, all of these things have got to be demolished,’” says professor and architect Francoise Bollack. “It’s very important to keep these things around."

Bollack was one of the demonstrators outside the Museum of Arts and Design on Tuesday. The museum bought Edward Durrell Stone's 1964 building for $17 million as its future home, and is planning a $30 million reconstruction.

When the project is complete, 2 Columbus Circle will have windows, and a new façade made of 40 percent glass.

“The museum is doing a wonderful service to the people of New York by taking a derelict building which has been empty for eight years and putting a substantial amount of investment into the museum, of money, time, effort to beautify this part of New York, and to bring community and cultural services," says Holly Hotchner, the Director of the Museum of Arts and Design.

The demonstrators disagree. They say the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission should hold public hearings to consider designating the building a landmark.

“All we're really asking for here is a chance for everyone to sort of talk about the preservation issues at large, to really examine this and speak for a building which is obviously significant,” says Simeon Bankoff of the Historic District Council.

But the Landmarks Preservation Commission is sticking to a decision in made in 1996, that the building doesn't merit a public hearing.

“A large majority of the people who make architectural decisions in this city have deemed our plan excellent, including the mayor, and [the Office of] City Planning, and the borough president, and the community board, and those are the bodies of people who make decisions in New York,” says Hotchner.

- Tanya Valle


(at this link is a video link to the NY1 news clip)

June 24th, 2005, 09:49 AM
The glass on the atrium at TW doesn't appear wavy when you're inside looking out --
That’s right.

It’s all in the reflections.

Not so bad, really, even if you can find analogs in the suburbs.

This building’s all about being shiny, inside and out.

Could be worse. Elkus-Manfredi do ok; their specialty is high-mediocre. Just like David Childs.

Competent, but not really art.

But who needs art on every project?

June 24th, 2005, 10:14 AM
How many here remember when this building was clean and occupied, without scaffolding around its base or broken sidewalks or dead trees?

What is also lost in the debate - would anyone make a fuss in 40 years (or ten years) if the bland Allied Works replacement were demolished?

June 24th, 2005, 10:33 AM
The guy who sits next to me here at work came here from Pelli. He worked on the Bloomberg Tower, which also has wavy glass, but not as obvious as on the TWC. He says that it was certainly not a cost issue. It resulted from partly an aesthetic choice, but mostly from the low-e glass that was necessary for energy requirements.

"Low E"

Does he mean low modulus of elasticity "E"? (MOE is the stiffness of a substance, with Steel being 29000KSI, and concrete about 3200KSI depending on strength).

Or is the "E" an energy efficiency rating?

June 24th, 2005, 10:35 AM
The problem the preservationists haven't answered is what to do with the building if it is deemed a landmark. The Museum would no longer want to occupy the building and no doubt the building would continue to be a blight on the new Columbus Circle which looks fantastic until you see the mesh fenced off 2 Columbus Circle complete with urin stains on the streetlevel facade.

If the preservationists had a concrete plan in place for the future use of 2 Columbus Circle in its current architectural form that wasn't so slapjob or nonexistant then perhaps I would listen some more.

But I still have to admit I consider the building to be awfully ugly. It's like wanting to preserve the interiors of the "new" Penn Station because it represents an achievement in the uglification of train stations.

June 24th, 2005, 10:54 AM
How many here remember when this building was clean and occupied, without scaffolding around its base or broken sidewalks or dead trees?
I do. Devastatingly beautiful. Like Charlize Theron. Couldn't keep my eyes off her.

Maybe it's just me.

Something to consider: Most people, including most architects, approved of or were indifferent to the replacement of grimy, run-down, old-fashioned, out-of-date Penn Station.

Everyone knew, you see, that Penn station wasn't really architecture--just as the Empire State Building wasn't really architecture. Neither of those buildings or their Beaux-Arts and Deco brothers were on the path to orthodox Modernism; Sullivan was, and Richardson, but you looked in vain in Giedion's revisionist history of modern architecture for anything that wasn't thought to lead directly to Lever House. Penn Station was mere kitsch, and worse still, it was copybook kitsch; why you could even identify the building it was based on!

Everyone can plainly see that Stone's building is mere kitsch. Postmodern pastiche lost in time.

June 24th, 2005, 03:28 PM
Ah Charlize.....

Ninja, I may have been using the term wrongly-
I found a definition-

Low-e glass

Low-emission glass (Low-E) is a clear glass, it has a microscopically-thin coating of metal oxide. This allows the sun's heat and light to pass through the glass into the building. At the same time it blocks heat from leaving the room, reducing heat loss considerably.


What I meant to say was that he thought it was energy-efficient glass.

Sorry for wandering so off-topic....

June 24th, 2005, 11:31 PM
ablarc - You really take incredible pictures. I am truly impressed. I wish I could say the same about mine, but alas, I was only equipped with a cell phone camera today.

Here's one I took of the dreadful 240 Central Park South, which I consider to be a far greater blight on the circle than 2 CC. The scaffolding/window work continues aimlessly as it has for many years now.

June 24, 2005:

http://images.snapfish.com/343%3C89%3A723232%7Ffp63%3Dot%3E2323%3D9%3B9%3D%3B 37%3D32329%3B9%3A46558nu0mrj

June 27th, 2005, 09:25 AM
But that's been an incredibly cool building once- it's just those bricks that let it down now. It's a shame, because it's really a bit of a deco masterpiece...


June 27th, 2005, 09:39 AM
...an incredibly cool building once - it's just those bricks that let it down now. It's a shame, because it's really a bit of a deco masterpiece...

tjf: I couldn't agree with you more!!

This building offers another great argument for the provisions of Landmarking, as the owner would have to show that the materials used for maintenance of the facade would match or correspond to the original facade.

The horrendous work on this beauty is equal to a botched face lift ...

So sad. :(

June 30th, 2005, 12:56 AM
Finally, some closure on this building:

Permit Issued for Long-Disputed Work at 2 Columbus Circle


Published: June 30, 2005

A work permit for the reconstruction of 2 Columbus Circle was issued yesterday, effectively defeating the decade-long effort by preservationists to have the building, designed by Edward Durell Stone, designated as a landmark.

The permit, issued by the New York City Buildings Department, allows the museum to remove the entire facade. That facade, known for its "lollipop" motif, is considered by some architects and preservationists to be an important example of widely threatened Modernist design.

Last week, 2 Columbus Circle was added to the World Monuments Fund's list of endangered sites.

Construction on the building to create a new home for the Museum of Arts and Design, formerly the American Craft Museum, is to begin in the fall. The design, by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture in collaboration with Gary Edward Handel & Associates, would eliminate the marble surface and porthole windows. Three additional permits issued yesterday allow for demolition of the interior.

"It's pretty shocking, pretty horrible" said the architect Robert A. M. Stern, who has championed the building.

"This building is a landmark," Mr. Stern added. "We do have good modern buildings, and we don't care for them. They are difficult and they are eccentric, but that's what makes them memorable. They challenge our way of thinking, our standards of beauty and propriety, and speak to us from another generation."

In a statement, the museum said: "The museum applied for these permits when the contract was signed, in anticipation of moving forward."

Not all architects said the building's design was worth saving. "I don't think it measures up to an icon," said Rolf Ohlhausen, a longtime New York City architect.

"To me, it's like a mausoleum," Mr. Ohlhausen added. "It has no life."

Another architect, James S. Polshek, argued that the transformation of Columbus Circle made efforts to preserve the building obsolete. "If you look at Trump's building to the north and the Time Warner Center to the west, it really is irrelevant what you do to that building, whether you restore it in all its Edward Durell Stone glory, or whether you reclad it," Mr. Polshek said. "It is not going to make any difference to the quality of life in that area because Columbus Circle has been compromised so severely."

The building, which opened in 1964, was designed to house the modern art collection of the businessman Huntington Hartford. The city acquired 2 Columbus Circle in 1975 and used it for the Cultural Affairs Department. The nine-story building has been vacant since 1998.

In June 2002, the city agreed to sell it to the museum for $17 million. The city has committed $4.5 million in capital funds to the project. The museum - now at 40 West 53rd Street - plans to reconstruct it for about $30 million. Construction is expected to be completed in mid-2007.

Landmark West, a neighborhood advocacy group, has recently led the effort to preserve 2 Columbus Circle, filing several unsuccessful lawsuits in an effort to pressure the Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold a hearing on the building.

Yesterday, Kate Wood, executive director of Landmark West, said of the permits, "We're just looking at what our options are."

The commission has consistently upheld a 1996 decision by its designation committee not to hold a hearing on the building. Robert B. Tierney, the chairman of the commission, has stood by that decision, despite considerable pressure from advocates, including some former landmarks chairmen. A recent lawsuit filed by Landmark West seeks Mr. Tierney's removal from all matters related to the building on the ground that he is partial to the renovation plans.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has stood steadfastly, if quietly, behind the chairman. In response to recent questions about the building, Mr. Bloomberg's spokesman, Edward Skyler, said: "Three different landmark chairs under two mayoral administrations have carefully considered this issue, and each determined not to proceed with the designation process. In terms of revisiting that decision, the mayor isn't going to micromanage the landmarking process."

While the preservation advocates could try to seek a work stoppage or temporary restraining order, such efforts seemed like a long shot, and yesterday the fight seemed to have gone out of the effort. "It's incredibly deflating," said Michael Gotkin, a founder of the Modern Architecture Working Group, an advocacy organization involved in the preservation effort.

"In preservation, you lose 75 percent of your battles," he added. "So we try not to give up until the very last second."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

June 30th, 2005, 10:58 AM
The now forlorn terrazzo sidewalk.
http://img189.imageshack.us/img189/6154/2cc012iz.th.jpg (http://img189.imageshack.us/my.php?image=2cc012iz.jpg)

June 30th, 2005, 12:09 PM
But I´m shocked at those photos of 240. I haven´t been there for a while.... it´s in such bad shape. So there you are at the TWC, looking out over Central Park and people´s crappy balconies at 240. That thing looks like a fancy pre-revolution apartment building in Havana, now housing 2 families per room. Don´t you think the folks responsible are letting go so it won´t be landmarked? That corner must be worth a FORTUNE....

June 30th, 2005, 12:38 PM
240's a Deco masterpiece indeed (and from a period when very little was built outside Miami Beach), and exactly contemporary with the Museum of Modern Art (ironically by Stone, 1939). Mayer and Whittlesey were the architects; much later, Whittlesey and his partner William Conklin designed Lake Ann Village, the centerpiece of Reston, Va.

June 30th, 2005, 07:15 PM
I, for one, am glad to see the ugly facade of 2 CC removed.

June 30th, 2005, 07:53 PM
I, for one, am glad to see the ugly facade of 2 CC removed.

Here here to that

July 11th, 2005, 03:48 PM
People's Hearing for 2 Columbus Circle
Time and Location Update

Robert A.M. Stern and Tom Wolfe to Speak

In case you missed Saturday's New York Times article, the People's Hearing for 2 Columbus Circle has been scheduled for Thursday, July 14, starting at 1:00 PM at the General Society for Mechanics and Tradesmen* (20 W. 44th Street, bet. 5th and 6th Aves). Please circulate the attached flyer to your friends, family and colleagues. Join Robert A. M. Stern, Tom Wolfe and others to help build the record of support to get 2 Columbus Circle the real public hearing it deserves! Just your presence will speak volumes, but if you plan to speak, please call us (212-496-8110) to sign up for a time slot in advance, or simply show up on Thursday.

Why this, why now? Because the fight is far from over. On Friday, LANDMARK WEST! received two important letters. The first, from the NY State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, announced that 2 Columbus Circle "does appear to meet the eligibility criteria for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places." The State is reviewing the building's eligibility under criterion "C" for sites that "embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values..." The second letter came from the City's Law Department, committing to a NY Supreme Court justice that the City "will neither close on the sale [of 2 Columbus Circle] nor authorize work under any existing building permits prior to either September 7, 2005" or the date of a court decision in the matter of LANDMARK WEST! et. al. v. City of New York (one of three still-pending lawsuits brought by LW! and other citizens to prevent the defacement of 2 Columbus Circle without due process).

Now is the time to stand up and be heard! See you on Thursday...

*The General Society occupies an Individual Landmark designed by Lamb & Rich and built in 1890, with additions by Ralph S. Townsend built in 1903-05.

August 9th, 2005, 10:51 AM
New York Times
August 9, 2005

Unanimity on a Building Is a Facade, Insiders Say


The building at 2 Columbus Circle, where a renovation is planned that would change its distinctive look. It has been denied landmark status.

The debate over whether 2 Columbus Circle merits consideration as an official landmark is playing out on the Landmarks Preservation Commission itself, despite City Hall's insistence that the case against the building was closed nine years ago.

The administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg favors a major alteration that would transform 2 Columbus Circle into the Museum of Arts and Design. It has relied on a 1996 decision by the landmarks commission's designation committee that the marble-clad, porthole-edged, concave building - designed by Edward Durell Stone as Huntington Hartford's Gallery of Modern Art - did not warrant a public hearing.

But on Saturday, Roberta Brandes Gratz, one of seven members who have joined the commission since the 1996 decision, said in a letter to The New York Times, "Neither I as an individual commissioner nor the current commission as a whole has rendered a 'professional judgment' on whether there should be a hearing or a designation."

Her letter suggested that at least some of the 11 commissioners favor a public hearing, as did telephone interviews yesterday with several members.

"It's very encouraging from our perspective - a sign of life," said Kate Wood, the executive director of Landmark West, a preservation group that has been battling to save 2 Columbus Circle. The letter, she said, "gives us some hope that it's not a closed case."

However, the current chairman, Robert B. Tierney, has already said he will not seek to change the 1996 decision. And yesterday, the executive director, Ronda Wist, said Mr. Tierney "is not inclined to revisit this question."

On July 30, in an Op-Ed article in The Times, Sherida E. Paulsen, a former commission chairwoman, said 2 Columbus Circle "is of little consequence historically or culturally" and "so unlikely to qualify for landmark status" that the "commission determined that it did not merit a public hearing." This, she wrote, was "the professional judgment of the 19 people" who have served on the commission since 1996.

Ms. Gratz's letter came in response to Ms. Paulsen's assertion, as did a letter in The Times from Beverly Moss Spatt, another former commission chairwoman, who asked, "If such overwhelming consensus is indeed the case, where is the public record of this decision?"

A Buildings Department permit was issued in June to allow removal of the existing facade for the Museum of Arts and Design project. However, in a court case in which the sale of the building by New York City to the museum has been challenged by Landmark West, the city's Law Department said last month that it would not close on the sale of 2 Columbus Circle or authorize work under the existing permits until Sept. 7.

Though the 41-year-old building was once widely derided, preservationists argue that Mr. Stone was a major architect and that evolving tastes permit a better appreciation of his romantic style of Modernism. In any case, they say, the building's fate should not be decided by a committee but by the full commission in a formal vote, after public testimony.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

August 9th, 2005, 11:03 AM
^ Good news.

August 9th, 2005, 11:06 AM
I agree. The tide is finally turning. Let's hope it's not too late. I can't believe the irony of a Museum of Arts and Design wanting to destroy this building.

August 9th, 2005, 02:05 PM
This building is a bland slab of nothing and does not need to be preserved.

August 9th, 2005, 02:06 PM
IMO 2 Columbus circle is a clear riff on the NYU School of Business Administration (http://www.sebastianworld.com/items/sml2/sml270.htm), late 50's building by SOM, I can't find an online photo,(but I have seen one).

August 10th, 2005, 09:27 AM
This building is a bland slab of nothing and does not need to be preserved.

More than the goofy arcade or odd portholes, people seem baffled, even appalled, by the blank expanse of masonry. It seems they just can't stomach it. Modern-day horror vacui?

:) .

August 15th, 2005, 08:21 AM
^ It's that blank expanse of [marble] masonry that makes this diminutive building monumental. By depriving the viewer of floor level indications, the scale is made ambiguous; you're free to see it as bigger than it actually is. That effect's magnified by the building's eye-catching whiteness, now sadly compromised by neglect.

August 15th, 2005, 08:53 AM
It looks like a monumental mausoleum. Something that an Indian prince would´ve built for his princess´ dead dog.

August 15th, 2005, 09:08 AM
It's still eye-catching, even at a distance.

http://img288.imageshack.us/img288/9209/bwayamst015ho.th.jpg (http://img288.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bwayamst015ho.jpg)

August 15th, 2005, 09:47 AM
^ Thanks, Zippy, you made my point for me. If a picture's worth a thousand words, I'd value this one at about two thousand.

At its tiny size, this building enlists its surrounding behemoths as background buildings.

Not a small feat.

Its absence would certainly diminish this view.

August 15th, 2005, 12:22 PM
It's still eye-catching, even at a distance.

The Time Warner Center? Yes it is. :)

August 15th, 2005, 02:44 PM
It's still eye-catching, even at a distance.

http://img288.imageshack.us/img288/9209/bwayamst015ho.th.jpg (http://img288.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bwayamst015ho.jpg)

2 homeless people dressed in pink having sex while listening to the Macarena would be eye-catching, too.

August 18th, 2005, 12:32 AM
For 2 Columbus Circle, a Growing Fan Club

The Landmarks Preservation Commission has refused
to hold a public hearing on 2 Columbus Circle, right.

Published: August 18, 2005

THE Landmarks Preservation Commission seems to have painted itself into a corner over 2 Columbus Circle.

Its refusal to hold a public hearing on whether 2 Columbus Circle merits landmark status - to receive testimony pro and con, to debate the matter openly, to reach a decision with a vote recorded next to each of the 11 commissioners' names - is based on a consensus reached nine years ago by its designation committee that the building did not possess enough historical or architectural significance to warrant a hearing.

But as the date nears for the building's transformation into the new Museum of Arts and Design, a growing number of landmarks commissioners past and present are joining preservationists in urging the commission at least to hear the case for saving it.

Nine years ago, the committee's decision was unexceptionable. Two Columbus Circle, which opened in 1964 as Huntington Hartford's Gallery of Modern Art, was designed by Edward Durell Stone in a style most memorably characterized by Ada Louise Huxtable, then the architecture critic of The New York Times, as resembling "a die-cut Venetian palazzo on lollipops." It was a building New Yorkers loved to hate.

Hearts began to soften, however, as plans formed to demolish or alter the building, which has been owned by the city since 1980 and has been vacant since 1998.

"Something rather wonderful has occurred, by which the building, rarely anyone's favorite in the past, is looking better every day," said Vincent Scully, the Sterling professor emeritus of art history at Yale University, in an Aug. 14 letter asking Robert B. Tierney, the commission chairman, to hold a hearing.

"Its own integrity, its uniqueness, the indomitable determination to make a point that produced it, are coming to the fore and are powerfully affecting the way we see it," Mr. Scully wrote. "It is in fact becoming the icon it never was, one about which the city now cares a great deal."

The commission itself has acknowledged the redemptive power that the passage of time holds for once-ugly ducklings. In May, it designated the former Summit Hotel at Lexington Avenue and 51st Street, designed by Morris Lapidus and completed in 1961, using language that could be applied almost word for word to 2 Columbus Circle.

"Some writers greeted the new hotel with disappointment or amusement, while others viewed it as a disharmonious addition to the streetscape," the commission said. "In subsequent years, however, the hotel attracted an increasing number of admirers."

The transformation of sentiment about 2 Columbus Circle has not registered at the commission, where Mr. Tierney continues to rely on the decision made in June 1996 by a four-member committee: the Rev. Thomas F. Pike, Prof. Sarah Bradford Landau, Charles Sachs and Vicki Match Suna.

Significantly, Professor Landau, of New York University, has now joined three other former commissioners - William E. Davis, Stephen M. Raphael and Mildred F. Schmertz - in calling for a hearing.

"Had there been such a large and broad demand for a public hearing about the building in 1996, I'm not at all sure I would have voted the way I did," Professor Landau said yesterday in an e-mail message. "It is in the long-term interest of the commission to maintain good rapport with the preservation community. Whether the building merits designation is another issue, and should be decided by the current commission."

Mr. Raphael said the former commissioners were responding to a July 30 Op-Ed article in The Times by Sherida E. Paulsen, a former chairwoman. She wrote that the decision not to consider 2 Columbus Circle reflected "the professional judgment of the 19 people" who had been on the commission since 1996.

BUT Mr. Raphael said, "Some of us neither participated in this decision nor were we asked to acquiesce in it." He and the others wrote that the 1996 decision "does not set a binding precedent" and that strong public interest "may be a valid policy reason" to hold a hearing, which is "not tantamount to granting a building landmark status."

Gene A. Norman, a former chairman, and Beverly Moss Spatt, a former chairwoman, have publicly called for a hearing. David F. M. Todd said about his term as chairman in 1989 and 1990, "The spirit - at least then - was, if the public wants a hearing, let's have a hearing."

"I'm primarily interested in the law being strengthened, not weakened, by this situation," Mr. Todd said yesterday.

Laurie Beckelman, a former chairwoman, directs the new building program at the Museum of Arts and Design, which plans to reclad 2 Columbus Circle with a new facade designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture.

Councilman Bill Perkins, who convened a "people's hearing" on 2 Columbus Circle last month, introduced a bill yesterday to give the Council power to direct the landmarks commission to hold hearings. "People can differ on whether something should be a landmark," he said, "but they can find common ground on the need to have a hearing."

At least, they could try.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

August 18th, 2005, 08:05 AM
It's ironic that the Landmarks Commission is now functioning as the obstacle to a building's preservation. By refusing to hold a hearing they're indicating their disdain of public opinion. Let them go on record in a public forum, and let them not stand on a decision made a decade ago; everyone knows the issue here is that our perception of a building's merit changes over time.

When Penn Station was being slated for the wrecking ball there was no Landmarks Commission, but the consensus among the knowledgable and the public alike was that the building lacked sufficient architectural merit to save. If there had been a Landmarks Commission at that time, would it have had the courage to save the old, dirty, derivative and dysfunctional station? Would we have it today?

Or does the very existence of this Commission lull us into complacency? In this case, the designated preservationists are allied with the wreckers.

August 18th, 2005, 08:39 AM
You are right that the LPC has become an obstacle, but not only to the possibility of preserving 2 Columbus Circle, but what I think is their most important function - increasing public awareness of preservation issues.

Much of what the LPC now does is political, responding to pressure to landmark development blockers with tenuous historical value - George Washington once took a whiz behind this house. On the other side, there is pressure from city government to forgo designation, as in this case to unload city property.

If this momentum had existed when the Museum of Arts and Design was first looking for a home, would they have struck a deal to occupy the present building, renovating the exterior and making changes in the interior to suit their needs?

It was built as a museum, and that loggia would make a great museum cafe.

August 18th, 2005, 11:51 AM
^ The wolf's guarding the sheep.

The issue is not “Is the building artistically meritorious?” We can’t trust ourselves on that one --not even the experts. We know full well the definition of that fluctuates wildly with time; I can’t stress strongly enough that in the year it was demolished Penn Station mostly wasn’t considered worthy of preservation: not by the public, not by architects and not by art historians. There were protests, to be sure, though they were weak by today’s standards, marginalized as borderline crackpottery, and they failed to prevail.

I’d caution against trusting the value judgments of people with degrees in art history; they may be better informed about some matters, but they’re no more infallible in judgment than the rest of us. I’m not sure Vincent Scully was out there protesting when the wrecking ball loomed above Penn Station; enlightenment as to the depth of the depravity there came after it was well too late. We on this forum may all congratulate ourselves that had we been alive and active at that time, we would have stood up for Penn Station, but that’s simply a measure of our capacity for self-delusion. If the experts saw no merit in Penn Station, why would most of us?

No, the real criterion has to be the very existence of those protests, not a judgment of their merit. If a significant number of people respect the building enough to get emotional and make a fuss, that’s probable cause to suspect the possible presence of art.

It’s probably OK to disregard the opinions of abuttors and the immediate neighborhood; such folk qualify as potential NIMBYs and may have other motives than safeguarding the world’s artistic treasures. But if a significant number of people with no stake of the kind conferred by adjacency think a building deserves landmark status, the Commission has to sit up and take notice, imo; to do otherwise is a dereliction of duty.

This is a pretty good test; people don’t defend crap just because it’s old, unless they have other motives, such as the blockage of whatever is proposed to replace the old building. Notice that nobody stood up to defend the Coliseum when it came down for the Time-Warner Center.

Right now, a majority of the “experts” see no merit in 2 Columbus Circle. Note that it’s no longer a unanimity of experts; you’re seeing the effects of time. If we demolish this building’s façade and replace it with the anonymity that’s proposed, we’ll be kicking ourselves in a few years –not as hard as we kick ourselves over Penn Station or the Singer Building, no doubt, but at least as hard as we may kick ourselves over the loss of one of those brownstones beside the Whitney.

August 18th, 2005, 02:26 PM
The more I see "flashes" of this building, here and there, the more it looks to me like a mausoleum or an airshaft for an underwater tunnel.

August 18th, 2005, 03:30 PM
Even worse are the apartments across the street, they're almost project-worthy. Reclad those.

August 18th, 2005, 03:39 PM
The more I see "flashes" of this building, here and there, the more it looks to me like a mausoleum or an airshaft for an underwater tunnel.
How is this any better?


(and will it inspire a dinnerware pattern (http://www.mikasa.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10001&langId=-1&catalogId=10001&productId=100766&itemId=Y0739220&siteID=M0a4w8qO2PA-mJQq0HxyYscc1kw9pVAkUA)?)

August 18th, 2005, 04:19 PM
(and will it inspire a dinnerware pattern (http://www.mikasa.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10001&langId=-1&catalogId=10001&productId=100766&itemId=Y0739220&siteID=M0a4w8qO2PA-mJQq0HxyYscc1kw9pVAkUA)?)
Thanks for that big yuk-yuk.

I couldn't help myself...from the above link:


Columbus Circle Black
At TRUCK, we draw a lot of inspiration from the city of New York, where we live and work. The rhythmic arrangement of circles on this dinnerware references the graphic window pattern of 2 Columbus Circle, the landmark 1965 building by Edward Durrell Stone. Your COLUMBUS CIRCLE dinnerware is dishwasher and microwave safe. And feel free to warm your plates in the oven - they can take the heat.http://www.mikasa.com/images/transparent_pixel.gifhttp://www.mikasa.com/images/transparent_pixel.gif

August 18th, 2005, 04:35 PM
we draw a lot of inspiration from the city of New York, where we live and work. The rhythmic arrangement of circles on this dinnerware references the graphic window pattern of 2 Columbus Circle, the landmark 1965 building by Edward Durrell Stone.
Well, one thing we know: it has the power to inspire.

Isn't that what art's supposed to do?

August 18th, 2005, 04:37 PM
The original is ugly... but quirky, eccentric. That reclad is just plain ugly.

Honestly: who here likes the "new" version better and why.

August 18th, 2005, 04:45 PM
^ It's a Sharper Image ionic breeze purifier.

August 18th, 2005, 05:00 PM
Ablarc: I was thinking maybe something by Bose.... but yes, you´re right it's a Sharper Image ionic breeze purifier.

And it cannot compare to the Indian princess´ dog mausoleum.

Case closed.

August 18th, 2005, 05:07 PM
^ I knew you'd see it my way.

August 18th, 2005, 05:18 PM
OK, I am not going to lie and say that the building is not ugly, because of course it it. Rather, I am going to argue four solid reasons why the building ("2CC") should be saved:

(1) It respects the Circle. At a time when the Coloseum made a hash of Columbus "Circle," 2CC mantained it. It should be rewarded for its loyalty and good service to the cause of circularity.

(2) It is distinctive looking. In her classic book, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities," Jane Jacobs argues that even odd-looking yet distinctive buildings (she used the example of Jefferson Market in the Village) serve an important function as place holders in this overwhelming city. When you see 2CC, you instantly know exactly where you are.

(3) This is a City-owned building. If some private developer plunks down his hard-earned cash to buy the property, then sure, let him get a return on his investment Trumping up the building with floor-to-ceiling windows, etc. But as long as the City insists on owning it, then it should respect the past. The museum of design, or whatever it is, can keep the current look.

(4) The renovation is no better; just different. Why bother?

August 18th, 2005, 05:33 PM
^ Good points. Add to those the fact that people care enough to make a fuss. That's pretty solid evidence that there's underlying substance, if it's not done for NIMBY reasons.

It's certainly a landmark, i.e. not anonymous. Though diminutive, you could say this building's still the most prominent landmark in Columbus Circle; the TWC is really quite bland by comparison, and a background building.

Tastes change, and we're starting to like some aspects of Modernist kitsch; the landmark designation of Lapidus' East Side hotel is one instance, and how about the one he designed just north of Times Square? These were regarded as contemptible kitsch not too long ago. Yesterday's kitsch is tomorrow's treasure.

Let's not repeat the kinds of mistakes we made in the Sixties, when we thought Penn Station was no great shakes. That building was certainly derivative: a re-creation of the Baths of Caracalla with plaster vaults (shades of Disney?). That was enough to make it an object of contempt and derision among architects and art historians. And the public just thought it was dirty and ugly.

Isn't that what some people are saying about 2 Columbus Circle?

The definition of ugly changes over time; the definition of distinctive or unique does not.

August 18th, 2005, 05:48 PM
Although I compared the building to a Mausoleum and / or tunnel vent, I can't say that I have the same intense dislike for it that I once did.

With that said, given the redeign of Columbus Circle as a "destination" and "hang out", wouldn't the area residents, owners, landlords and developers prefer the new design because it would shed more light on the circle and streetscape? The solid marble wall is dark and offers no "ambient" light for the circle.

August 18th, 2005, 06:07 PM
I still like this idea too (from an earlier post in this thread), if it must be changed:


August 18th, 2005, 07:41 PM
Maybe my opinion won't be a popular one here, but I kind of like the building. Maybe it isn't perfect architecturally speaking, but for me, the building holds sentimental value, and it evokes a stream of memories. I know that these feelings are always casualties in the name of progress and if we ran a city on emotion alone the city would suffer and fail. I know all about the arguments of the building not being useful and the like, but frankly I think it's a shame that the LPC doesn't get behind it and protect it.

August 18th, 2005, 08:44 PM
^ This building has the power to evoke memories (does it for me too), and we contemplate tearing it down?!

Not many buildings have that power...

August 18th, 2005, 08:57 PM
Not everyone is entranced.

August 18th, 2005, 09:04 PM
^ Nor were they by Penn Station.

August 18th, 2005, 09:52 PM
Pictures taken on 8/1/05:

http://images.snapfish.com/3447645523232%7Ffp58%3Dot%3E234%3A%3D937%3D37%3B%3 DXROQDF%3E2323%3A3%3B%3C%3B355%3Bot1lsi

A little off topic, but anyone know what is happening to the building in black netting behind 2CC?

As a few people mentioned these decrepit buildings earlier, I thought I'd add a few images of them:

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

http://images.snapfish.com/3447645523232%7Ffp58%3Dot%3E234%3A%3D937%3D37%3B%3 DXROQDF%3E2323%3A3%3B%3C%3B387%3Bot1lsi

http://images.snapfish.com/3447645523232%7Ffp7%3Enu%3D3259%3E846%3E28%3A%3EWS NRCG%3D3232%3B2%3C%3B%3C2973nu0mrj

August 18th, 2005, 10:52 PM
^ Nor were they by Penn Station.

I see the similarities.

August 19th, 2005, 07:43 AM
^ Glad to hear it.

The similarity wasn't in the buildings themselves; it was in the fact that in both cases: many people couldn't see the value of the building.

That'll happen over and over again in the future too; it's currently happening with Boston's iconic City Hall.

August 19th, 2005, 09:33 AM
Boston City Hall rocks!



Kallmann, McKinnell and Knowles

August 19th, 2005, 10:09 AM
The architectural model could have been easily built with Legos.

August 19th, 2005, 11:01 AM
......A little off topic, but anyone know what is happening to the building in black netting behind 2CC?......

I was wondering the same.

August 19th, 2005, 05:09 PM
Oh my god what the hell is that all about, boston city hall is disgusting!! I like the idea of extending the windows down, looks good and keeps the identity of the building.

James Kovata
August 20th, 2005, 03:43 AM
Oh my god what the hell is that all about, boston city hall is disgusting!! I like the idea of extending the windows down, looks good and keeps the identity of the building.

Go to Boston and get very close to that building. You won't think it's disgusting then. I won't say it's beautiful, but I will say it exudes power, and its massing is quite impressive. The plaza around the building also makes a big difference. If memory serves me correctly, there are lots of fountains.

August 20th, 2005, 09:13 AM
I won't say it's beautiful, but I will say it exudes power, and its massing is quite impressive. The plaza around the building also makes a big difference. If memory serves me correctly, there are lots of fountains.
The fountain's been dead for years, but the rest of what you say is true enough.

I do think, though, that even acquaintance won't make people like this building for a while. Bostonians are well-familiar with it, and they loathe it. It's in the wrong style, you see, for the present moment; it's in the style we love to hate.

If it can survive another quarter century or so, we'll be clucking like hens for its preservation and restoration.

August 20th, 2005, 09:55 AM
If it can survive another quarter century or so, we'll be clucking like hens for its preservation and restoration.
Brutalism had its moment, but very few buildings from that period hold up, particularly those with exteriors of poured concrete. One problem is the maintenance of the concrete, which is notoriously difficult to match. So the surface of the building ends up looking like patchwork.

Brutalism was a response to the "ills" of society -- an architectural attempt to isolate the inhabitants from the evil lurking outside. We could easily be entering another period of this type of design: Neo-Brutalism (aka "F***dom Tower").

August 20th, 2005, 10:04 AM
Brutalism was a response to the "ills" of society -- an architectural attempt to isolate the inhabitants from the evil lurking outside. We could easily be entering another period of this type of design: Neo-Brutalism (aka "F***dom Tower").
Interesting observation. Osama, the architectural influence? The Bin Laden Era?

Btw, as concrete gets old it gets even more...uh...brutal.

Patina adds character, if we're willing to concede it. Nobody says Venice is uninteresting because it's decrepit.

August 22nd, 2005, 08:45 AM
The dialogue of architecture versus populism. It's playing out interestingly with these buildings.

August 22nd, 2005, 09:34 AM
2CC is getting broad coverage. Yesterday, it was one of the buildings featured in a report about preservation battles on CBS Sunday Morning.


Form Over Function
Aug. 21, 2005

All the neighbors could do was stand there and watch. They say it was no accident the wreckers picked the Friday before the 4th of July when hardly anybody was around to take down the Parmelee House in Kenilworth, Ill.

This century-old house was demolished to make way for a so-called "Mc Mansion, CBS News Sunday Morning Correspondent Martha Teichner reports.

With no provision in place for protecting significant historical homes here, developers can pretty much do what they want.

Once a building's gone, it's gone.

Whether we're talking about tear-downs in Kenilworth, the sacrifice of one historic building to save another in St. Louis or, in New York City, the fight over this odd little modernist museum that's not even 50-years-old, we're talking about tough, bruising struggles, right-to- life battles over architecture.

A community, like an individual can determine what it wants to be," Richard Moe, president of the National Trust For Historic Preservation, says.

"Kenilworth, by not having made a choice to protect these structures is now suffering the consequences," Moe adds. "It's too bad. I hope it's not too late."

Forty-five houses have been torn down in Kenilworth since 1993. That may not sound like many, but there are only 820 houses in the whole village.

On Lake Michigan, Kenilworth, is one of Chicago's most desirable suburbs. It was founded in 1889. The houses were built by the cutting edge architects of the day, among them Frank Lloyd Wright.

"It was one of the first planned communities in the country and we're very proud of that," Tolbert Chisum says. Chisum is the president of the Kenilworth village board.

"Candidly, we're probably five years behind," Chisum adds.

For years, Kenilworth talked about coming up with a comprehensive plan, but didn't do it.

"We want to maintain our suburban community the way that it's been for many, many years," Chisum says. "At the same time, you have to deal with the issues of personal property rights.

Tell that to 20-year Kenilworth residents Cameel Halim and his daughter Nefrette.

"They took out very large trees," Nefrette says. Asked how he feels when he looks at the missing trees, Cameel replies bluntly, "Sad and angry."

There is a certain irony about the public service announcement made by the National Trust For Historic Preservation, considering what happened in St. Louis. The group gave its consent to the demolition, yes demolition, of the historic, landmarked Century Building. Why? You guessed it: so a parking garage could be built in its place. As part of a $77 million jigsaw puzzle of a package to save the historic, landmarked old post office across the street.

"I look at buildings as sculpture and it just rips me up to think they would be tearing down that beautiful thing down," artist Alan Brunettin says.

Brunettin and television producer Margie Newman live around the corner from the Century building.

"Every night. Every night I was out there with a still camera and a video camera. Documented the whole thing," Brunettin says.

Newman adds, "It was like watching a murder. It was horrible. It really was horrible. To see and also to know that the ugly politics that had led up to it, and that, in my mind the bad guys had won for all the wrong reasons. It hurt."

That's one side of the story. Here's the other.

"Sometimes the whole picture needs to be looked at. St. Louis had a very shabby-looking living room," explains developer Steven Stogel.

Stogel and fellow developer Mark Schnuck were approached by St. Louis business leaders and politicians ready to raise the money to restore the old post office, vacant since 2000.

"It was very obvious that this was the jewel," Schnuck says.

Each floor of the post office covers about an acre.

"When General Sherman dedicated the building in 1884, he described it as an act of magnificence," Stogel says.

It was also a federal courthouse.

"Some very significant cases were decided in this courtroom," Stogel adds, citing the break-up of Standard Oil and the teapot dome case.

So when the Missouri state court of appeals agreed to move in if the building were restored, it seemed perfect. But the court and the other anchor tenant, Webster University, demanded adjacent parking, meaning the Century Building site. Existing parking lots nearby weren't good enough.

"The net effect has been to revitalize the old post office and to revitalize at least ten buildings in the surrounding area," Moe says.

But for the National Trust, the bottom line was what it regards as the greater good: a ripple strategy that now drives much of its preservation activity.

Moe adds, "Regrettably, we lost the Century. We fought hard for it, with the city, with the developer, with the tenants of the building, and we lost the argument."

The National Trust is still hoping to win the argument over 2 Columbus Circle in New York City.

It's become the poster child for the preservation battle that's shaping up over what The New York Times calls "baby boomers": post-WWII modernist buildings. Examples are Lincoln Center and the United Nations.

Edward Durrell Stone designed 2 Columbus Circle as A&P magnate Huntington Hartford's personal art museum. It has been one of those buildings New Yorkers love to hate ever since it was built in 1964.

Vacant for seven years, the city sold 2 Columbus Circle to the Museum of Arts and Design, which intends to transform it inside and out.

Holly Hotchner, the museum's director, describes the space as windowless and nasty and a place where Central Park can't be seen except out tiny, Swiss cheese windows.

Teichner notes that renovation to the museum must take place both on the inside and outside. "My answer to that is the building failed after five years when it opened originally because it was so deadly as a visitor experience," Hotchner tells Teichner. "To turn this into a truly public space we do have to change it very, very dramatically."

Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, opposes change to the museum. "It's going to be known as the -- unless we have a miracle -- the museum that trashed Ed Stone's most important New York building.

Stern is just one of the high-power New York names furious that the city refuses to consider protecting 2 Columbus Circle as is.

"You don't kill your old grandma just because of funny breath and bad teeth. And you don't tear buildings down because they don't exactly conform to who you are. That's the whole point."

With the average price of office space close to $500 per square foot in New York City -- more than double the national average -- the temptation to take down the glass boxes of the 1950s and 60s and supersize is obvious, unless you're Aby Rosen..

"Here's a late Warhol, 1985. Says, 'Somebody wants your apartment buildings.' I thought it was appropriate," Rosen explains as he gives Teichner a tour of his art collection.

Rosen and a partner own and manage something like 6 million square feet of prime New York real estate. But Rosen says buying two modernist masterpieces, Lever House and the Seagram Building, was one of the most thrilling things he's ever done.

"We all think that things that are a couple-hundred-years-old need to be protected. It's a wake-up call for all of us that suddenly something that's been only 20-, 30- or 40-years-old might be worthwhile to be protected as well," Rosen says.

Lever House, built in 1952, was designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. The Seagram Building, completed in 1958, was designed by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson.

In the same way canvas is timeless, so is the glass, so is the stainless steel and the façade of this building.

Rosen considers the two buildings as much a part of his art collection as part of his collection of buildings.

But, that begs the question: how does a structure manage to survive the changes in fashion and taste not to mention the politics long enough to be appreciated? The answer: sometimes it's just luck.

Who could have predicted that the High Line, a long-abandoned elevated railroad that meanders for a mile-and-a-half around and even through Manhattan's industrial past -- a strictly no-trespassing, off-limits to the public kind of place -- would find itself about to be reborn as a $100 million park, like nothing else in the United States.

© MMV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Teichner notes that renovation to the museum must take place both on the inside and outside. "My answer to that is the building failed after five years when it opened originally because it was so deadly as a visitor experience," Hotchner tells Teichner. "To turn this into a truly public space we do have to change it very, very dramatically."
It was a museum. Maybe people just didn't like the art.

Or maybe the overall collapse of the city had something to do with it.

TLOZ Link5
August 22nd, 2005, 10:31 AM
......A little off topic, but anyone know what is happening to the building in black netting behind 2CC?......

I was wondering the same.

Facade restoration.

August 22nd, 2005, 12:44 PM
It was a museum. Maybe people just didn't like the art.

Or maybe the overall collapse of the city had something to do with it.
The art consisted almost entirely of late works by Salvador Dali, some of them huge. The most famous of these, Christopher Columbus discovering America, is probably familiar to most. Many of the rest featured Salvador’s wife, Gala, and there was a hyperdramatic Crucifixion that showed a foreshortened Jesus hovering surreally in space.

By the time these were produced Dali was so famous that I suspect he had turned himself –like Rubens—into an art factory. Judging from the fairly slapdash brushwork and the huge expanses of canvas they covered, a small army of apprentices must have done the actual painting.

Additionally, the paintings had turned formulaic; Dali was now doing a schtick. It was Dali doing Dali, if you know what I mean, and so it wasn’t hard to see these paintings as borderline kitsch. Certainly they skated on the brink of commercial art.

Hartford, with more money than taste, had snapped up these giant white elephants for what—measured in bucks per square foot—must have seemed like bottom dollar for bona fide masterpieces by an acknowledged master.

There were other painters represented in Hartford’s collection, but Dali was the centerpiece of his eccentric thesis that the mainstream of Twentieth Century painting was representationalism. The critics, recognizing an amateur’s viewpoint, were unimpressed.

And the public? Regardless of how wowed they may have been on first viewing (and they were impressive, those Dalis), how many times can you return to see the same collection? There wasn’t really enough space for any but the smallest special exhibitions; you would have had to displace the Dalis to mount one of those.

So after a few years of inactivity verging on stagnation, Hartford moved his collection to St. Petersburg, whose retirees were more likely to appreciate it. (Along with the other items that belong in Robb Report.)

The museum itself was sumptuous. Red carpet lent it all the gravitas of the plushest movie palace, and the paneling featured only the finest rosewood. You had to climb a lot of stairs, though there was an elevator for the unathletic.

The lack of views was at first disappointing until you discovered how charmingly those portholes framed Central Park (like Breuer’s lone trapezoid at the Whitney). Then your satisfaction was complete.

The folks at the Museum of Design (or whatever it is) are obvious philistines.

Holly Hotchner, the museum's director, describes the space as windowless and nasty and a place where Central Park can't be seen except out tiny, Swiss cheese windows.

Teichner notes that renovation to the museum must take place both on the inside and outside. "My answer to that is the building failed after five years when it opened originally because it was so deadly as a visitor experience," Hotchner tells Teichner. "To turn this into a truly public space we do have to change it very, very dramatically."

August 22nd, 2005, 01:07 PM
I visited it once in the early 70´s when it was the New York Cultural Center. I can´t remember what the show was. I do remember lots and lots of very shiney wood... like a library in a country estate... it only lacked the moose heads. I wound up at Huntington Hartford´s place one night... it was Sutton or Beekman... he sat there like a Buddah.... everyone was very very high... and my recollections are very very vague....oh the 70´s...

August 22nd, 2005, 07:51 PM
Fabrizio, this might jog your memory. You can see the inside of the curve of Columbus Circle. Windows in that curve would have come out of wall space to hang pictures. Will the Design Museum make a display of the Circle and Park?

August 23rd, 2005, 12:14 AM

Council Nosing In


City Council member Bill Perkins has taken the 2 Columbus Circle fray to the legislative chamber by introducing a bill that would require the Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold public hearings on alterations to any building the City Council thinks it should hold hearings about. All the council needs to do is get a majority to vote for having the hearings.

Preservationists and activists have been trying to compel the L.P.C. to hold a hearing on the Edward Durrell Stone–designed building for years. To no avail, though; the L.P.C. is standing by its 1996 decision that the building doesn't have enough historical or architectural import for consideration.

Mr. Perkin's legislation also requires the L.P.C. to hold a hearing to determine whether any building under landmarks consideration should be listed on the state Register of Historic Places.

- Matthew Grace

Posted by Tom 8/19/2005 09:29:00 AM (http://www.observer.com/therealestate/2005/08/council-nosing-in.html)Permalink (http://www.observer.com/therealestate/2005/08/council-nosing-in.html)

August 23rd, 2005, 05:03 AM
Whoa, that room is gross. Thanks for posting it. More wealthy suburban rec-room (circa 1964) than the library I had remembered. Needs a wet bar and one of those big old RCA wood-cabinet color TV-stereo combos. Pass the dip.

August 23rd, 2005, 09:56 AM
...More wealthy suburban rec-room (circa 1964) than the library I had remembered. Needs a wet bar and one of those big old RCA wood-cabinet color TV-stereo combos. Pass the dip.

My first laugh out loud moment of the day.

August 23rd, 2005, 10:18 PM
From http://cityrealty.com:

Mexico City to be projected on New York buildings 23-AUG-05

The Mexican Cultural Institute plans to hold a major public arts project in many parts of New York City, entitled ABCDF Portraits of a City, from October 10th to October 27th from 10AM to 10 PM.

The project consists of hundreds of photographic images of Mexico City by 250 Mexican artists that will be projected onto buildings and streetscapes including Union Square, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and 2 Columbus Center.

The latter is the former museum building erected by Huntington Hartford that is the center of a major landmarks controversy because of the refusal of the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission to hold a public hearing on its possible designation as a landmark. The structure has a very large blank white marble façade facing Columbus Circle and Central Park, which is ideal for projections such as are planned by the Institute.

The notion of projecting images onto buildings is an interesting study in kinetic urban cosmetics. In recent years, some retailers have resorted to projected small images on the sidewalks in front of their stores, but the notion of projecting the images onto the sides of buildings conjures a different scale and an intriguing “Bladerunner” world of a Times Square run amok, albeit artistically.

The ABCDF exhibition has been shown in Paris and Washington, DC. There have not been any public announcements yet about the New York project, but several community boards have been given presentations and voted to approve its application for a permit.

August 24th, 2005, 11:44 AM
That sounds interesting, I hope these images start up soon! Wow, I cant believe Ill get to start seeing these things in person and not just reading about them! :)