View Full Version : Columbus Circle (Historical)

June 5th, 2003, 10:21 PM
I stumbled across this recently, from 1985. I know we got into this on another thread once, but I think it was off topic. I did a search for AOL and Columbus Circle and couldn't find it, so I'm starting this dedicated thread. The redevelopment of Columbus Circle is something that was bounced around for ages. If you have old renderings from prior proposals please contribute.


June 5th, 2003, 10:35 PM
At some point in the 80s Donald Trump also tried to develop this site for the tallest building in the world. The architect was Eli Attia.




(Edited by chris at 10:36 pm on June 5, 2003)

June 6th, 2003, 11:06 AM

June 6th, 2003, 12:38 PM
Great, I think I may have even been confusing that page with a thread on the forum.


Helmut Jahn

Robert A. M. Stern and Costas Kondylis

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Elkus/Manfredi

June 8th, 2003, 11:37 PM
I've heard proposals for Columbus Square. Some were rather outlandish.

June 9th, 2003, 11:21 AM
From the 1980's
Michael Graves

SOM Moshe Safdie

James Stewart


From the City Review article:
"Where's Humpty-Dumpty?
The New Coliseum Fiasco"

By Carter B. Horsley

Columbus Center Muprhy & Jahn
10 Columbus Circle

"Herbert Muschamps, the architecture critic of The New York Times, singled out one for very lavish praise, that of Murphy/Jahn for Tishman Speyer Properties, Mirage Corp., and Morgan Stanley Partners.

The design is one of Jahn's least inspired and least flamboyant. Jahn set the architectural world on edge with his great State of Illinois Center in Chicago, a dazzling, curved building with a spectacular, large cylindrical atrium, and he is generally recognized as one of the master architects in the world. In New York, he is not well represented, but each of his three major office buildings here show his inventive and unusual designs: the International Plaza office building across from Bloomingdale's at 750 Lexington Avenue has a very handsome retail frontage of curved bays and a fine stepped, curved pyramid top; Park Avenue Tower between Madison and Park Avenues and 54th and 55th Streets, has slanted sides and bulbous courses and an impressive, highly visible through-block lobby; and 425 Lexington Avenue has an abstracted cornice. All these buildings, however, have strange palettes and a lack of grace.

Jahn's design for the Coliseum site retains the existing tower and adds two more, set at angles with each other, on the south side of the site. The renderings and the model indicate that the angled towers would be dark with corner windows, but do not convey enough information to determine the true color of the glass facades. The notion of twin towers, of course, is the great characteristic of Central Park West, but these towers run east to west along 58th Street and therefore are out of line with Central Park West.

The Jahn design may be nice, possibly, but certainly is not exciting and actually is not the handsomest in the new group. Indeed, its raised skylight at the center of the base fronting on the circle is harsh and awkward and relates to nothing."

Columbus Center Robert AM Stern/Costas Kondylis
10 Columbus Center
750 feet
Robert A. M. Stern and Costas Kondylis
Rendering by Ernest Burden III *
"The best-looking design is by Robert A. M. Stern and Costas Kondylis for the Trump Organization and Colony Capital. Its 750-foot-high tower, shown at the left, is angled to face the park and its main facade is modulated nicely near the top in a style reminiscent of early Lower Manhattan skyscrapers. Seen from other angles, however, the tower is asymmetrical with a large, ungainly wing that extends to the west."

Columbus Center Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates
10 Columbus Center
2 670 foot towers
Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates
The design of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates for Silverstein Properties is particularly odd. It calls for two 670-foot-high towers on the 60th Street side of the site and adds a few floors to the existing smaller office tower at 10 Columbus Circle. The tall towers are very attractive with horizontal banding and setbacks and are at angles with each other, but the smaller south tower is horrid, a new glass top over the existing grayish lump of brick. Roche's cool modern touch on the tall towers is no where apparent on the rest of the site. It must have been a rush job. If the tall towers' facade treatment were fully applied to the south tower and the base, this would be a tempting, but not great design.

Columbus Center SOM
10 Columbus Circle
2 750 foot towers
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Elkus/Manfredi
Old Design
The best recycled design is for the Related Companies and Himmel & Company by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Elkus/Manfredi. This multi-towered scheme is modeled closely on David Childs' final design for Mortimer Zuckerman that died an ignoble death in the first go-round. When Childs moved to S.O.M.'s New York office, he changed its sleek modernism to a more Classical, Post-Modern bent and his Zuckerman designs were very fine of this kind. This watered-down version appears to have slightly better massing but much inferior tower tops. It is one of the few submissions, however, to recognize that the site straddles Central Park South and is its terminus and therefore worthy of some gesture, here a very large globe atop the low-rise base.

Columbus Center *KPF
10 Columbus Circle
Kohn Pedersen & Fox/ Gruzen Samton
http://images3.fotki.com/v26/free/efe0b/3/39399/245775/ColumbusCenter1KPFBrianBurr-vi.jpg?1055170759 http://images3.fotki.com/v26/free/efe0b/3/39399/245775/ColumbusCenter2KPFBrianBurr-vi.jpg?1055170786
Renderings by Brian Burr
Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, perhaps the nation's finest high-rise architects of the past two decades, teamed with Gruzen Samton, perhaps the city's most intelligent designer of public buildings, for the Lefrak Organization, Edward J. Minskoff Equities and DLJ Equity Partners. Who woulda thunk this design would emerge, a pedestrian scheme better suited for New Jersey than New York?

Columbus Center Gary Handel & Associates/Polshek Partnership
10 Columbus Circle
Gary Handel & Associates/Polshek Partnership
Rendering by Thomas W Schaller
"Lastly, Polshek & Partners and Gary Edward Handel & Associates designed a fairly bold tower for Millenium Partners, but its attempt to mimic the slanted roofline of Citicorp Center is not successful."

June 9th, 2003, 11:55 AM
Wow.:o I really like all of them. Well a few do look really outlandish, but these were really great. I'd say my top favorite would be the one by James Stewart.

June 9th, 2003, 03:45 PM
Quote: from DominicanoNYC on 10:55 am on June 9, 2003
Wow.:o I really like all of them. Well a few do look really outlandish, but these were really great. I'd say my top favorite would be the one by James Stewart.

Some of them are cool. I wished they were built, but then again the AOL-Time Warner Building is also cool looking.

TLOZ Link5
June 9th, 2003, 04:40 PM
The crowns are a bit too subdued for my taste. *I was expecting them to be more distinct from the rest of the building; instead, they seem to be of the same color glass as the towers themselves. *I certainly like them, but they still need a little more oomph near the top, which their preliminary design definitely supplied.

June 9th, 2003, 04:44 PM
Given what preceded, the outcome is a miracle.

June 9th, 2003, 06:18 PM
Derek2k3: what you have labeled as KPF is the Boston Propeties design by Swanke Hayden Connell. The KPF scheme was heavily postmodern.

My favorite scheme was a three-tower WTB proposal by Cesar Pelli that was a stepped spire. His scheme too was changed beyond recognition.

June 9th, 2003, 06:32 PM

Have you access to rendering of either of these proposals?

June 9th, 2003, 06:58 PM
Chris are you aware of the Municipal Art Society Bookstore?

June 9th, 2003, 07:22 PM
Urban Center Books, off the courtyard of the Palace Hotel on Madison, yes?

June 9th, 2003, 07:26 PM

June 9th, 2003, 07:41 PM
Do you wish to say that renderings of these proposals can be found there? Or do you bring the bookstore up for some other reason?

June 9th, 2003, 07:53 PM
You'll find a treasure trove, just loose yourself. There's not a specific book with proposals if thats what your asking.

June 9th, 2003, 08:03 PM
Oh yes, I love that bookstore. I've not been there since... the fall. I wasn't sure if it was something more specific. Yes, I encourage anyone who posts here to take the time... and thanks for bringing it up. I should go there again soon myself.

June 9th, 2003, 08:35 PM
Never heard of it. *Thanks for the tip!

June 9th, 2003, 09:14 PM
Quote: from Ptarmigan on 3:45 pm on June 9, 2003

Quote: from DominicanoNYC on 10:55 am on June 9, 2003
Wow.:o I really like all of them. Well a few do look really outlandish, but these were really great. I'd say my top favorite would be the one by James Stewart.

Some of them are cool. I wished they were built, but then again the AOL-Time Warner Building is also cool looking.

Yeah! I think these are great, but there are none better than the TWC.

June 9th, 2003, 09:25 PM
"Given what preceded, the outcome is a miracle."


June 9th, 2003, 11:17 PM
I just found this on the Cesar Pelli's website:

AIA Connecticut
Unbuilt Project Award
Columbus Circle

Ernest Burden III
June 11th, 2003, 12:46 PM
Quote: from DominicanoNYC:I'd say my top favorite would be the one by James Stewart.

How about James Stewart Polshek, rendering by Mona Brown

And thank you for putting the renderer credits on the pictures.

Hum, the preview didn't show my signature.

Ernest Burden III

June 11th, 2003, 01:20 PM
Hey, I see you collaborate with Sven.
I know Sven... great guy, hockey player.
Small world.

So, do you have any more copies (better or larger even) of the rendering that you can post here?

Ernest Burden III
June 11th, 2003, 11:41 PM
Hey, I see you collaborate with Sven.
So, do you have any more copies (better or larger even) of the rendering that you can post here?

Are you friend/client/other renderer?

As a matter of fact, Sven saved my butt on the Columbus Circle rendering posted above, coming in at the end as a hired gun. *It's not the only time, either.

As for posting, I hadn't planned on it. *I've seen way too many renderings posted here without any attempt at attribution for my tastes. *In fact, one of our friend Sven's (that would be Sven Johnson, architectural illustrator for those not in on the joke) best pictures--a tower by Philip Johnson, was posted here without his name.

If you think our work is worthy of your use to make a point, why not be respectful enough to list the author? *If you find a rendering on an architect's site without credit, email them, tell them you need the name so that you can use it when you re-post the picture here. *If they refuse to tell you, post THAT. *I would certainly like to know if that happens.

June 12th, 2003, 12:59 AM
Acquaintances. We have two close mutual friends. His best man is a friend of mine and a guy he plays hockey with is also a good friend of mine. Our paths seems to continuely cross.

As to not crediting renderings, I'm sorry when that happens. Most of the time I post my own photography. Truthfully, most of what is posted here is posted in conversation, IE people don't contact architects firms about every post. But your point is well taken.

In future, I will make a real effort to credit renderings when I have the information to do so. Unssually people think to credit the architect or the firm, rarely the photographer or the renderer.

June 12th, 2003, 09:19 AM
You know this has always been a good site for a huge centre and it is placed right at the end of the avenue so it needs a good focal point.

June 12th, 2003, 10:06 PM
Is it just my imagination, or has the board suddenly been inundated with a deluge of "me too" posts?

June 13th, 2003, 05:52 AM
No, me too. This would be the second on this page alone.

June 15th, 2003, 06:33 PM
This month's Architecture Record has a tremendous article of the history of Columbus Circle. Ofcause I reccommend you pick it up, its perfectly intune with this thread.

June 17th, 2003, 04:13 PM
Thanks Stern.
I will do so.

June 26th, 2003, 03:44 PM
Hey Chris.

Im hoping you've had a chance to do so, wondering what your thoughts on the entire process were?

I find it interesing that Childs actually puched the envelope here, 750 feet being the maximum height allowed by the city zoning.

June 29th, 2003, 11:42 PM
They need to leave Stone's curved facade alone. Do what they want with the inside and the other three sides, but leave that curved marble facade as an icon. He knew there was a circle there, and he respected it when no one else did. It is still a startling white apparition that gives me a jolt every time I catch a glimpse of it from the north. Columbus Circle will never be the same without it.

It is New York's Taj Mahal.

Ernest Burden III
June 30th, 2003, 12:56 AM
They need to leave Stone's curved facade alone... Columbus Circle will never be the same without it.

Don't expect anyone to agree with you until the building is gone, or worse:


one of the 'concepts' the city sought for re-using the building. *This is an old rendering, but every few years I come back to Columbus Circle for some reason--meaning renderings. *When I was in Jr. HS I went to school near CS, so I was part of the rif-raf that used to hang out around there. *Its a lot different now.

June 30th, 2003, 10:16 PM
Thanks again Stern.

I just picked up that issue yesterday. I've not had a chance to read it yet, but it looks to be a good read.

November 26th, 2009, 12:03 AM
Some old shots of Columbus Circle area, from the Coliseum Park Apartments website (http://www.coliseumtenantscorp.com/history.html) ...

The Majestic Theater (http://www.coliseumtenantscorp.com/history_majestic.html), on the west side of Eighth Avenue between 58th and the SW arc of the Circle, circa 1905:


Reisenweber's (http://www.coliseumtenantscorp.com/history_reisenweber.html) Circle Hotel and Cafe (where jazz was king and Sophie Tucker headlined), on the SW corner of 58th and Eighth, just south of Columbus Circle, circa 1910:


Central Park South (http://www.coliseumtenantscorp.com/history/cpsouth.jpg) / West 59th Street looking west to Columbus Circle, circa 1915 (with the Majestic Theater just to the left of the Columbus Monument) ...


Ad for the Coliseum Park Apartments (the red brick complex on Ninth Avenue just west of the Time Warner Center) showing the complex and the Coliseum (bottom), circa 1956 (http://www.coliseumtenantscorp.com/history_apartments.html):


December 8th, 2009, 07:59 PM
Interesting stuff on Durland's Riding Academy, which used to sit on the north side of Columbus Circle where the Trump International now stands, at this POST (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?p=308320&highlight=central+park+south#post308320).

December 8th, 2009, 08:06 PM
More on Durland's Riding Academy, and the building they built and moved to after they vacated the Columbus Circle site (back in the day I worked on this block and watched as this one came down) ...

7 West 66th Street; From a Ring for Horses to a Studio for Anchors

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/1999/03/28/realestate/streetscapes-7-west-66th-street-from-a-ring-for-horses-to-a-studio-for-anchors.html)
Sunday, March 28, 1999


December 8th, 2009, 08:42 PM
In 1905, across town at 7 East 58th Street, the New York Riding Club built a new club house -- with a huge 18,000 sf riding ring, 406 horse stalls, sumptuous interiors by Louis Tiffany, plus ...

... lounging rooms, dining rooms, a commodious billiards room, dressing rooms, a palm court and, in fact, aside from the riding ring and the stalls and the hospital, every luxury for the convenience for members that a wealthy and popular club suggests.

New York Riding Club Will Have Ideal Home; When the Improvements Begun Have Been Completed It Will Have No Equal in the World -- Ring Will Be Largest in America -- Problems the Architect Has Successfully Met.

NY TIMES (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9B0DE5DA163EE733A25754C0A9639C94 6497D6CF)
May 7, 1905, Sunday

EARLY one morning last week a group of gentlemen stood in a corner of the tan-bark ring at the Riding Club at 7 East Fifty-eighth Street and watched James T. Woodward, the President, break ground for the extensive alterations and additions to the club building. [ END OF FIRST PARAGRAPH ]

Full Article [pdf] HERE (http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9B0DE5DA163EE733A25754C0A9639C946497D6CF) with drawings of the new club building (Architect: Bradford L. Gilbert (http://www.bradfordleegilbert.com/))


Gilbert was also the architect for, among many other NYC buildings, the Dakota Stables (http://curbed.com/archives/2006/09/21/dakota_stable_rains_down_on_upper_west_side.php) which used to stand on Amsterdam / West 77th (now The Harrison (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=10026), from the Related Companies / Robert AM Stern).

The Architect Who Turned a Railroad Bridge on Its Head

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/01/realestate/01scap.html)
July 1, 2007

HIS name is hardly known today, but Bradford Lee Gilbert designed scores of railroad buildings — among them an earlier iteration of Grand Central Terminal — as well as New York’s first skyscraper. His practice was national, but he lived and worked in New York, and the handful of buildings he left here have gradually succumbed — including, earlier this year, the poetic Dakota Stables at 77th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

... The Dakota Stables, too, disappeared — but only a few months ago. In the spring of 2006, preservation groups began lobbying the Landmarks Preservation Commission to begin the process of designating the building a landmark. But by the time the commission got around to holding a hearing last October, the stables’ owner, the Related Companies, had stripped the building of its ornamentation.

The owner plans to build a 16-story, 160-unit condominium, designed by Robert A. M. Stern, on the site of the stables, a younger sibling of the Tower Building, Mr. Gilbert’s landmark in architectural history.

December 8th, 2009, 08:49 PM
Ad for the Coliseum Park Apartments (the red brick complex on Ninth Avenue just west of the Time Warner Center) showing the complex and the Coliseum (bottom), circa 1956 (http://www.coliseumtenantscorp.com/history_apartments.html):


I've always wished they'd redevelop this site.

December 2nd, 2010, 06:52 AM
The Circle Building was stunning (although not Art Deco as the slideshow states) and a sad loss.

The Castles and Clashes of Columbus Circle

By Matt Chaban

Circle Building

The battle between Steve Ross and Joe Moinian over the fate of 3 Columbus Circle (http://www.observer.com/2010/real-estate/king-columbus-circle-has-plans) is only the latest in a long line of controversial developments to consume the century-old redoubt. From Robert Moses to Jackie O., from Art Deco to High Modern, Columbus Circle has been one of the great stages for New York City's building history. See how it all played out since Columbus first arrived in on the corner in 1892.

SLIDESHOW: The Castles of Columbus Circle (http://www.observer.com/2010/real-estate/slideshow/castles-columbus-circle)

http://www.observer.com/2010/real-estate/kingdoms-and-clashes-columbus-circle (http://www.observer.com/2010/real-estate/slideshow/castles-columbus-circle)

November 2nd, 2011, 09:47 PM
Postcard courtesy of http://www.usgwarchives.org/special/ppcs/ppcs.html


November 8th, 2013, 11:31 PM
Although a magnificent job has been done restoring Columbus Circle, it's always been an amazing space.

Vintage Photos: Columbus Circle in NYC Over the Years Since the 1900s

by Nancy Li

Columbus Circle, 1901 (notice the canopy of trees going up both sides of Broadway)

Ever since Columbus Circle was redesigned in conjunction with the Time Warner Center, the area around the traffic island has transformed into a commercial destination. But like much of the city, the area had humble origins: it was once farmland (http://untappedcities.com/2013/10/25/5-historical-farms-nyc-you-can-visit-dyckman-farm-wyckoff-house-decker-farm-queens-county-farm-kingland-homestead/) owned by John Somerindyck, which only became accessible to the general public after the 9th Avenue train was built. Even then, though, the virgin lands weren’t ideal for a residential neighborhood. Instead of housing, rows upon rows of warehouses were erected around the 59th Street area.

Things took a turn when, in the 19th century, William Eno designed Columbus Circle as part of Frederick Olmstead’s plans for Central Park (http://untappedcities.com/tag/central-park/) with the monument at the center completed separately, in 1842–400 years after Columbus’ first landing in the Americas. The monument, a 13-feet tall statue of of the Italian explorer created by sculptor Gaetano Russo, was featured in Tatzu Nishi’s Discovering Columbus (http://untappedcities.com/2012/09/20/discovering-columbus-at-columbus-circle/) last year, an art installation turned the statue into the centerpiece of an intimate living room.

Though the circle was completed in 1905, it’s been redesigned numerous times since its completion. While we’ve all seen modern-day Columbus Circle, we thought we’d share some photos that document the area’s evolution since its completion in the early 1900s.

View of the Pabst Grand Circle Hotel and the Majestic Theatre at Columbus Circle in 1903.

The sign above advertises Majestic Theatre’s production of “Babes in Toyland.” Image via Museum of the City of NY blog (http://mcnyblog.org/tag/byron-company/).


Columbus Circle, 1905. Image via fineprintnyc (http://fineprintnyc.blogspot.com/2012/12/evolution-of-new-york-city-part-2-1900.html).


Panorama of Columbus Circle, 1907.


Columbus Circle, 1912. Trolleys used to run on tracks that were built during the late 1800s.


Columbus Circle, 1910s-1920s. Notice the increase of billboard ads and buildings.


Columbus Circle, 1921. At this point, cars became a bigger presence around the traffic island. The Art Deco Circle Building, featured in the center of the photo, was later demolished to make way for the New York Coliseum.


Roof signs like “Manufacturer’s Trust” were blocked from installation in the 1960s except in Times Square. Image via nyneon (http://nyneon.blogspot.com/2012/09/on-columbus-circle.html).


Aerial view of Columbus Circle, 1933.


Italian-Americans showing their support for the Allies on Columbus Day at Columbus Circle, 1943. Note the Hotel Empire neon sign which still exists today.


Columbus Circle during a heat wave in 1944. The famous Coca Cola sign forecasted the next day’s weather, but it was changed to a reading of the current temperature during WWII, when any kind of prediction could have benefited the enemy. The sign was removed in 1965. Image via wirednewyork.com (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5010&page=15).


Aerial view of Columbus Circle, 1952. The trolleys no longer served Columbus Circle and cars have completely replaced their presence.


Movie still of Judy Holliday’s 1954 film, “It Should Happen to You! (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003LPKE4S/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B003LPKE4S&linkCode=as2&tag=untapcitie-20)“


A view of Robert Moses’ New York Coliseum in 1956. It was demolished in 2000 to make way for the Time Warner Center. Image via wirednewyork.com (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=21249&page=10). The area become graffiti-ridden and extremely run down by the 1990s, some which can be seen in this photograph (http://www.flickr.com/photos/triborough/110967901/sizes/z/in/set-72057594074272555/).


Columbus Circle, 1990s. For a time, Columbus Circle’s traffic pattern was non-circular, but it was later returned to a circular flow after the city commissioned a redesign of the traffic island.

Tatzu Nishi’s Discovering Columbus (http://untappedcities.com/2012/09/20/discovering-columbus-at-columbus-circle/) exhibit in 2012


View of Columbus Circle today from the Robert restaurant at the MAD Museum (http://untappedcities.com/2013/11/07/vintage-photos-columbus-circle-nyc-over-the-years-since-1900s/pt-away-at-the-museum-of-arts-and-sciences-mad-museum/), with an aerial view of the redesigned public plaza


The Charles Fazzino The Ride (http://untappedcities.com/2012/05/17/the-ride-a-charles-fazzino-infused-tourist-turned-party-bus/) goes past Columbus Circle, featuring ballet dancers amidst residents and visitors taking time in Columbus Circle


November 9th, 2013, 10:11 PM

This does not look lie Columbus Circle. Is this even in NYC?

November 9th, 2013, 11:36 PM
^ Oh, yeah. I've let untappedcities and http://www.vintag.es/2013/06/photographs-of-united-states-from-above.html know.

November 9th, 2013, 11:37 PM
^^ "East River Drive" is written on the asphalt, it seems.