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Thread: Silver Towers - by I.M. Pei

  1. #151

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    Hypothetically landmark the WTC.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stern View Post
    I would have supported a revamping of the WTC's "windswept" plaza, in fact there were continuing efforts to do just that, before 9-11 there were plans for a dramatic overhaul.
    The PA plans concerned alleviating the basement atmosphere of the central concourse by opening it up to the plaza above. There were also plans to enliven the perimeter of the site. However, these proposals would not have changed the original design concept of towers on a superblock.

    The towers themselves defined NY and were landmark worthy. The plaza was not.
    You can't separate the two in regards to landmark consideration. A designation report by the LPC would have included the superblock as integral to the historical development of the complex. Yamasaki was directed to put 10 million sq ft of office space on 16 acres. He chose two supertalls and a plaza with low buildings because he didn't want the complex to resemble a housing project.

    That said while the plaza at the WTC was a disaster it was not as much of a disaster as the open space at Silver Towers
    That both are disasters and to what degree is not relevant to landmarking.

    Getting back to the PA plans to renovate a landmarked WTC: If they made a proposal to the LPC, a favorable ruling would conclude that their plans did not alter the original design concept. If they had proposed cutting up the superblock, it would have been rejected.

    You can substitute Silver Towers for WTC in the above, and the argument is the same.

  2. #152

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    This may come as a surprise to those familiar with my staunchly classicist preferences in architecture and abhorrence of 99.9999% of all architecture and urbanism post 1920-30s.

    I think the 'SilverTowers' should be landmarked.

    I personally find them ugly (disclaimer: based on photos only) and I don't have much time for the encyclopaedist view that any building of some significance in terms of 20th century architectural micro-history should be fought for with the same vehemence with which we defend a McKim & White masterpiece.

    I do take, however, Ablarc’s point that some reflection before razing is a good idea with buildings “of a certain age”.

    Also, the rent in the urban fabric ash now been there for a generation and the city has sot of ‘healed’ around it. Why go poking around again?

    If I were the “emperor” of NYC that building would have been torn down long ago, true. But in the real-life dynamics of the city, I think the cost/benefit of “listing" is not so bad.

    Lastly, bad as 60-70s architecture is, the deconstructivist stuff nowdays is typically worse… It's not liek they would tear those things down and build an art deco materpiece, right??

  3. #153

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    The towers should be landmarked.

  4. #154

  5. #155
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    Just as an aside, I disagree with those who hate Washington Square Village, north of Silver Towers. In fact I like it better than Silver Towers. It's like a slice of Brazil in NYC.

    (Not that I'd want to bulldoze any more city blocks to put up more WSVs ... but, as people have been saying about ST I appreciate it now that we have it.)

  6. #156

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    Quote Originally Posted by 212 View Post
    I disagree with those who hate Washington Square Village
    Good for you. So do I.

    In fact I like it better than Silver Towers.
    Yes, it's at least equally iconic, and represents a different application of the same (Ville Radieuse) modernist planning theory. It also bites off a portion of infinite space and contains it with the raised courtyard. In the process it creates another ENCLAVE even more pronounced than Pei's because it's nearly fully shut off from the outside world. Shangri-La.

    It's also brightly colored in muted surroundings and has wonderful Corbusian sculpture on the roof to hide the mechanicals. Twin Unites d'Habitation.

    At one time it also had statuesque doormen in capes.

    It's like a slice of Brazil in NYC.
    Amen, brother --with fruit on the head, like Carmen Miranda.

    (Not that I'd want to bulldoze any more city blocks to put up more WSVs ... but, as people have been saying about ST I appreciate it now that we have it.)
    Glad you think that. Shows you have an open mind in a world given to dogma.

  7. #157

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    I can't keep up with this and am impressed with how smart everyone is here, if a little nuts. I'm a zero authority on the subject but it above it was mentioned that NYU wanted to build, would build, etc., and they really have no central campus, no real quad, so the Silver Towers could be razed and maybe downtown building like the old Coffee Exchange be sold and then something like the entire Brown Universtiy quad bought and shipped to the Village, I think it would fit. Here's a five-million dollar move where a house on campus got moved a few hundred feet. I don't think moving Brown would cost more than a billion. www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUSLjytXzN0

  8. #158
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    Thumbs up

    That vid is wild!

  9. #159

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    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman11686 View Post
    (As an aside: I think it's fascinating you felt all that, which Krier (and his interviewer) insisted is impossible with any Modernist work. Just goes to show how divergent our reactions can be, even coming from similar backgrounds.)
    Krier is an ideologue, but he's also an aesthete. I bet he feels it, but he also feels a duty to abhor it, because --as many have pointed out here-- it's "wrong." Ideologically incorrect, even if stirring.

    I think that, as an amateur, I've reached the point where I feel I'm out of my league. I've neither the training, experience, or vision to see what you see, or to feel what you feel for these buildings. It is too abstract for me.
    If you don't penetrate to appreciation on your next visit it'll just be one more demonstration of the fact that Modernism is excessively elitist. It claims to be for the common man, but actually it's for the connoisseur. Corbu resolved the contradiction by declaring that l'esprit nouveau would make the common man into a connoisseur.

    My only concern with accepting your account is this: if one must be willing to put effort into appreciating a work of art, how many people can realistically derive the same enjoyment that you do? It seems they need not only be knowledgeable enough to recognize abstract brilliance; they also need the time to experience it, to digest it, and to love it.
    All true.

    Your comparisons to Pollock and Serra are fair, except for one major difference: architecture, because it is a uniquely public art, cannot be limited to a gallery, or a museum. Indeed, in your opinion, Silver Towers are the gallery, and the museum. Most people choose to go to MoMa to view a Pollock or a Serra
    In fact, Serra comes out into the public realm with vast and much-hated installations such as the one recently removed in the courthouse area.

    do we landmark buildings in spite of the public's inability to appreciate them?
    Public mostly doesn't appreciate a survivor from the Federal era, either.

    Do we let a minority of opinion-givers decide what qualifies as art, and is worthy of perpetual existence, to be given a special distinction
    Inevitably. That's what's presently done. How else could you do it?

    ...when the majority may very well consider it indistinct, and an eyesore?
    The majority generally doesn't care enough about these matters to voice an opinion.

    Concrete, meaning: understandable, readable, interpretable.
    Yeah, I didn't think you meant "cement."

    Quote Originally Posted by alonzo-ny View Post
    Ok Ablarc I now fully understand what you see. I hopefully will get down there and maybe I will see differently but I am going to wait on that. I may see what you see...
    ...or you may not. Just remember, that fence is not supposed to be there. It's terrifically disruptive; it restricts your movement --and isn't "fence" the opposite of "open"? Especially hurts when "Open" is your theme.

    but the thing is your saying this works on a one off basis but the horrible WSV is immediately to the north... So I suspect that what you say might be true and maybe as a one off it works. BUT its not a one off. WSV effectively takes all that away and together they dont work.
    Imo, WSV is pretty good too, but for different reasons (see previous post). And as for "together", I think they work pretty fortuitously as two adjacent demonstrations of the extremes of Modernist planning's (fairly narrow) spectrum. Like having illustrations in a textbook materialize.

    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1 View Post
    In my perfect world one would see the non-Silver portions of the block cleared -- and that turned into green space.

    More park for the Towers in the Park.
    Bravo! Let it become even more itself. A perfect set-piece to play off against McDougal Alley diagonally across the Park.

    Quote Originally Posted by Luca View Post
    some reflection before razing is a good idea with buildings “of a certain age”.
    Particularly if they were so esteemed when young.

    Also, the rent in the urban fabric ash now been there for a generation and the city has sot of ‘healed’ around it. Why go poking around again?
    Pragmatic. Especially since:

    the deconstructivist stuff [they would replace it with] nowdays is typically worse…
    .

  10. #160

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    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    ...actually it's for the connoisseur.
    Alonzo: then go uptown and compare the Silver Towers to 15CPW. Of course we'd all rather live there, but forget a minute about 15CPW's grand apartments and etc. Just look at 15CPW from a purely design stand point: it is beautiful (and IMHO valid), but it's beauty is easy and popular. It's not "fine".

  11. #161

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    I agree 15 CPW is not as refined.

  12. #162

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    "Less is more," said the man.

  13. #163
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    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    Public mostly doesn't appreciate a survivor from the Federal era, either.


    Inevitably. That's what's presently done. How else could you do it?


    The majority generally doesn't care enough about these matters to voice an opinion.
    Not that this really matters, but I wasn't arguing we should change the way it's done.

    Of course the public at large often doesn't care to voice an opinion. Indifference, I'm not concerned about. It's when passed judgment goes radically against what can realistically be detected as the public's disapproval.

    I posted the results of an informal poll earlier in this thread. Fully 77% of the respondents said the towers were either an eyesore, or simply unworthy of being landmarks. That, coming from a website where I expect the average visitor to be better informed about such matters than the general public.

  14. #164

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    Where was the poll done... what website?

    Judging from the poll questions: "They are ugly and an eyesore" "They are so ugly they are awesome." "They're not the worst but they don't need to be landmarked". It sounds like a very erudite operation.

  15. #165
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    Gothamist. There's a link in the original post.

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