View Poll Results: Should 2 Columbus Circle be preserved?

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Thread: 2 Columbus Circle Redesign - Orginal: Edward Durell Stone - Redesign: Brad Cloepfil

  1. #16

    Default A New Look for a 10-Story Oddity

    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.

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    The Nation's Capitol (DC)

    Default A New Look for a 10-Story Oddity

    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. *

  3. #18
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Manhattan - South Village

    Default A New Look for a 10-Story Oddity

    We definitely need a better rendering, I'm not yet convinced that there is much of an improvement. Looks sort of dull.

  4. #19

    Default A New Look for a 10-Story Oddity

    I'm not pleased with this rendering either. *At such a prominent site, it should have more achitectonic interest, not just a flashy skin.

  5. #20

    Default A New Look for a 10-Story Oddity

    I pulled these images from Allied Works

    Model - day

    Model - night

    Rendering - day

    Rendering - night


    Conceptual rendering - glass columns


  6. #21

    Default A New Look for a 10-Story Oddity


    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.

  7. #22

    Default A New Look for a 10-Story Oddity

    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.

  8. #23

    Default A New Look for a 10-Story Oddity

    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!

  9. #24

    Default A New Look for a 10-Story Oddity

    oooh nice! I'm going to post this at skyscrapercity.

  10. #25

  11. #26

    Default A New Look for a 10-Story Oddity

  12. #27

    Default A New Look for a 10-Story Oddity

    If you can believe the renderings, its a huge improvement.

  13. #28

    Default A New Look for a 10-Story Oddity

    I suppose, but I'm still reluctant to accept it.

  14. #29

    Default A New Look for a 10-Story Oddity

    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. 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

  15. #30


    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

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