Unfortunately, new construction that looks like that is the only kind most New Yorkers can afford.
Maybe all the heavy hitters of design out there, and their strives to create something new and unique have unfortunately failed to define an architectual language for those further down the ladder to follow?
Last edited by Shadly; January 6th, 2009 at 04:17 PM.
How do you think the "heavy hitters" stay in business?
I'm glad someone is pushing the envelop, but their designs are less and less transferable to the plebs. I don't think it's necessarily because of design talent, but more to do with the construction costs of some of these structures. It used to be that a good carpenter could build himself a very nice example of a Queen Ann house. You can't do that now; that's why you get the brick boxes.
Maybe it's just the widening gap between the rich and poor. There isn't trickle down effect in style anymore.
Those two family home boxes are also known on this side of the river as the "Bayonne Boxes" for their ubiquitous presence in Bayonne. They have been cropping up in Jersey City for the last decade and are almost if not exactly the same as the ones shown in those photographs in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.
Walking from Broadway to CPW in that area, I was convinced that Art Deco was the last great American style of architecture -- that's easy to think when you walk past The Majestic, then, 20 blocks later, you're sucked into the vortex of the Zeckendorfs' big F&$* You to the city, the International Project Style complex Park West Village.
But, ironically, when performed to exacting, costly standards, Bauhaus and the International Style can be glorious -- and the step from Art Deco to Bauhaus is so obvious. It seems that what happened was that the 20th century took a decent thing and ran far, far, far too far with it. The International Style, it seems, is almost a boutique style -- it looks good if you're building a Seagram Building or a Palm Springs mansion in it; but the style also lends itself to the slummiest things known to post-Iron Age western civilization.
All quite amusing when you think Gropius and co. meant their architecture to be for the masses. It turns out it only works well when built for the ultra-rich.
The masses in their tenements got much better architecture than anyone in Park West Village. I can only hope that's razed soon, and that a return to Art Deco -- or, really, anything that preceded it -- is made, rather than trudge on with Bauhaus.
You're looking backwards.
Hey, sometimes you have to look backwards to move forward when you're in a rut. Isn't that what the Renaissance -- the word we most use to describe a (successful) revisitation/transformation -- was all about? Looking back to the Greeks and Romans to get us, eventually, to today...
I think maybe eventually we will have totally machine made laser cut building elements that will be available to order so yes, I can see some detail coming back at sometime in the future.
There's no need to move backward, there's plenty of good modern architecture, just hardly any of it is being built here.
^^ Don't mean to nitpick; I'm genuinely interested in getting your thoughts, Derek: Is there any place where the good contemporary architecture you allude to is being built (or can cost-effectively be built) on a mass scale that makes it affordable for all to the point where it is the standard of what is built?
We hear a lot about China, but it seems like the flashier stuff that's built in China is so many cheap tricks, unlikely to age well (the Olympic natatorium is already said to be discolored) and is in any case dwarfed by the innumerable commie blocks being built there.
Persian Gulf cities that have been in the limelight look like Shanghai or Moscow in their eagerness to embrace cars and the tower-in-the-park architecture that comes with them in all the pictures I see (odd that they would want to develop an urban culture that creates demand for oil...). Moreover, the Gulf isn't a very relevant example insofar as Dubai or what have you are spigots for wasting as much surplus oil revenues as possible and not places where construction costs have any meaning.
I think the best examples of places where good contemporary architecture exists and is available to all must be in Northern Europe. Berlin, Potsdamer Platz aside, has a multitude of new (at least I thought they were...) townhouses and apt buildings -- 5, 6 stories -- densely built and thoroughly urban. I've seen less of Scandinavia and the Netherlands than I'd like, but I think they're on to something. Unfortunately, all of the architecture I like in these places is on a small, townhouse scale. Which, of course, Gary Barnett would never accept and Bloomberg/Tierney/City Council would never ask him to build.
Perhaps New York would do better with something more along the lines of the (somewhat bland) aesthetic the Pacific Northwest -- Vancouver and, slowly, Seattle -- are creating?
When danger rears it's head, be it political strife abroad or bland working class architecture at home, look to Hollywood celebrities. There was a good article in Architectual Digest last month I believe. Brad Pitt is building () cheap modular homes for New Orleans. Some of them don't look half bad:
Maybe since Joe the Carpenter can't just throw together a Gehry whenever he wants, tasteful modular homes are the answer to otherwise bland brick two family homes.