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Thread: Silver Towers - by I.M. Pei

  1. #31

    Question NYU Landmark

    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    ...... quality architecture, and almost certainly better than anything NYU might replace them with today.

    To compare them with public housing in the Bronx is like lumping Seagram in with all the other flattop curtain-wall boxes. If you can't see the difference ...
    Yes I can see this is quality architecture: that is, it has qualities that I find unattractive . Landmark status: not this building, not in my opinion.

  2. #32
    The Dude Abides
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    I'm sorry, but these are not worthy of being landmarks.

    I find it deliciously ironic that a project associated with urban renewal and the worst side of government planning has found supporters in people like Berman. These people need to get their stories straight. And as if it even needs to be said: this is clearly NOT about architecture. It's about money, pure and simple.

  3. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabrizio View Post
    I don't think anyone will dispute that this is bad urban planning. Such buildings would be built very differently today in the Village.

    And most likely, so would Lincoln Center, the Seagrams Building, the UN, the UN apartments, the Manhattan House apartments, etc...

    Rather than just dismissing them, it might be interesting to discover why Muschamp, Fortune Magazine, the American Institute of Architects (and etc.) unanimously consider them so highly. Or why Pei's similar towers-in-a-park in Philadelphia, have had landmark status for 20 years now.

    Are they all idiots?
    This is a horrible argument. One could likewise argue that 60 Wall Street is great because 17 State Street, the Sony Building, and the Citicorp Center are great postmodern buildings. This building is nothing like the buildings you listed, its concrete, its cold, its monotonous, its set apart from the city and has a graceless honeycomb fascade, all combine to provide great views for residents. It goes against the communalism of a city and it makes no apologies about it, its as if the people here want nothing more than their own selfish desires, their own private park, their own parking, driveways, unobstructed views, its a suburb that the rest of the City must take time to walk around and unfortuantly look at.

  4. #34

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    Would SOMEONE answer this:

    "Rather than just dismissing them, it might be interesting to discover why Muschamp, Fortune Magazine, the American Institute of Architects (and etc.) unanimously consider them so highly. Or why Pei's similar towers-in-a-park in Philadelphia, have had landmark status for 20 years now."

    Are they all idiots?"

    (oh and let's add ablarc to the list...)

    Well? Are they?

  5. #35
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    I'm sure none of those people have ever been wrong about anything before. Just because they praise these buildings means we should take them at their word? Please. It's not like we're on an architecture forum, or anything like that.

    Like I said, the main story here is not even about architecture. It's about NYU placating the community which is becoming increasingly hostile to their expansion in the Village - in some cases, for good reason.

  6. #36
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    Gothamist

    February 12, 2008

    NYU's Silver Towers: Potential Landmark - or Eyesore?



    Later today, the city will discuss whether the I.M. Pei-designed Silver Towers should be landmarked. The Observer reported that NYU announced its support today, a reversal from an earlier position over three years ago.

    The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation pushed for landmarking the complex, located between Bleecker and Houston Streets and LaGuardia Place and Mercer Street, a few years ago, calling it "an innovative modern design by I.M. Pei." The GVSHP's support may have been to thwart further NYU expansion, as one 2004 rally for the Silver Towers' landmarking also included a protest for NYU's plans to building a "large new Science Center in the midst of the complex."

    GVSHP still wants to designate the whole superblock (including the Morton Williams building); GVSHP's Andrew Berman said this superblock's design was "sensitive." However, Manhattan Institute fellow Julia Vitullo-Martin told amNew York, "Silver Towers destroyed the Manhattan street grid and did so deliberately. We probably should be rethinking landmarking if the city is going to landmark these kinds of developments. If you stood in front of Silver Towers and asked people walking by if it should be in the same category of Grand Central Station, I am sure they would say no."

    NYU says it could still theoretically build more buildings in the open areas, even if the Silver Towers were landmarked.

    The Landmarks Preservation Commission will discuss the Silver Towers around 1:45PM at the Municipal Building (1 Centre Street), 9th Floor. See the other things being discussed on the agenda (PDF). And back in 2004, City Councilman Alan Gerson told the Villager, "Where else do you have a combination of I.M. Pei and Pablo Picasso? It’s an exemplar of modern, high-rise urban building and planning, defining an era of architecture. It’s cries out for it. It’s a no-brainer." The Picasso in question is an interpretation of Picasso's Bust of Sylvette by Carl Nesjär. And here are some more pictures of Silver Towers.

    ***

    Poll results:

    What do you think of NYU's Silver Towers?

    They are ugly and an eyesore. 44% (194 votes)
    They are so ugly they are awesome. 23% (104 votes)
    They're not the worst but they don't need to be landmarked. 33% (147 votes)
    Total Votes: 445

  7. #37
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    One thing that has to be taken into consideraton when judging the Silver Towers is their context with Houston Street at the time they were built. Since the widening of Houston Street in the 1920s (when the Independent Line subway was constructed beneath Houston Street -- it opened in 1932 and was a pre-Moses City project) the stretch from The Bowery to West Broadway has been a black hole. During construction of the subway portions of buildings along the widened Houston Street were chopped off, leaving brutal blank walls and narrow lots which for years were used only for parking. Unfortunately even the recent upgrades taking place on Houston have failed to address some very basic issues, such as widening the sidewalks and making the entire stretch more pedestrian friendly. The Silver Towers don't help the pedestrain relationship one bit -- but the towers didn't create that situation.

  8. #38

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    Pianoman... haven't you been told time again about the strawman thing? You put words in peoples mouths and then proceed to argue with what you have made up.

    I ask "are they all idiots?"... the spirit being: "what is it that they see?"

    I did not ask anyone to take them at their word.

    Got it?

  9. #39
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    I'm sorry I didn't see past the words and discover the "spirit".

    Suffice it to say that these buildings are contentious works of architecture, at best. Just because you say so-and-so "unanimously consider them so highly" doesn't mean there aren't diverging opinions - many of which, there are.

  10. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabrizio View Post
    Would SOMEONE answer this:

    "Rather than just dismissing them, it might be interesting to discover why Muschamp, Fortune Magazine, the American Institute of Architects (and etc.) unanimously consider them so highly. Or why Pei's similar towers-in-a-park in Philadelphia, have had landmark status for 20 years now."

    Are they all idiots?"

    (oh and let's add ablarc to the list...)

    Well? Are they?
    I think there is generally a confusion about landmarking that may be at play here.

    Generally something is landmarked because it is significant, either historically or architecturally, usually a blend of the two.

    Pei is a significant architect. It can be, and has been argued that Silver Towers are a significant work in Pei's oeuvre. This last point appears to be in contention from viewing the negative comments here.

    Some would appear to believe that just as any five year old can draw a Picasso and any parent of a five year old is qualified to choose a child's work over Picasso's, so too can architecture be dismissed simply because of personal foibles regarding stylistic or aesthetic taste. It's as though architectural scholars and critics who can place works within the context of the International canon and the whole continuum of occidental architecture may be brushed aside on the principle that taste needn't be cultivated nor erudite, -- just a simple matter of opinion.

    "Of course the critics are wrong when they disagree with me - because it is merely their opinion against my own, and my opinion can't be criticized, for it is mine and I am entitled to it," they seem to be saying.

    I would argue this complex needs to be landmarked just to guard against the inevitable call to reclad or paint or some such heinous superficial fix to improve the ugly towers or build upon their greenspace.

  11. #41

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    I think those schooled in architecture, and architecure enthusiasts, like these buildings because they are beautiful... not so much because they are by Pei (and therefore somehow beautiful by default).

    What are they seeing?

  12. #42
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    Jasonik: what is your opinion concerning the community's opposition to NYU's proposal to construct a new science building on the site of the one-story Morton Williams supermarket?

  13. #43
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    On that point ^ I believe you're referring to a plan such as the one shown in this rendering (the Morton Williams supermarket is currently at the lower left, where the new building outlined in orange is shown):



    It has to be understood that the Morton Williams / possible NYU science building site at the SE corner of Bleecker / LaGuardia is NOT a part of the Silver Towers property. No matter what happens to Silver Towers that corner site is developable.

    IMO the most important aspect of any plan for that site is that the beautiful Community Garden along LaGuardia be maintained. If that means allowing for a taller tower for the science project then I have no problem with that whatsoever. However the massing shown above is not well thought out. And any tower going up on that corner will disrupt the "pin wheel" lay out of the Silver Towers -- as a new tower will rise somewhat in line with the Tower on the SW part of the SIlver site.

  14. #44
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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Berman, GVSHP, et al. included the supermarket site within their proposal to landmark the entire superblock. I'm fairly certain that means NYU would not develop anywhere on that site.

  15. #45

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    Pianoman,his one?



    In the plan view the new building should move to the right and straddle the street in a continuation of the pinwheel plan allowing each building clear sightlines from all four faces, or a 7 or 8 story ell at the corner pushed out to the sidewalk containing the greenspace, or leave it green, or do what ever they want. I mean NYU owns the property, shouldn't they be allowed to do with it what they wish, even ruin it?
    (Lofter beat me to much of this I've noticed.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Fabrizio
    What are they seeing?
    The pure expression of an ideal executed with elegance and clarity. A rare uncompromised artifact from a period that earnestly believed architecture was able to change society. A period when practitioners felt they had discovered some archetypal axioms about the built environment and confidently set out to manifest these essential and timeless truths.

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