Architecture should be quirky and eccentric sometimes.
If someone looks at this as a serious attempt at architecture they must be mad.
That's easy to believe. Once upon a time most Hong Kong apartment buildings had shantytowns on their roofs.Those with the privileged vantage of elevation have been able to watch the little houses go up over the past year and a half, and have followed developments with curiosity, envy and contempt.
Hey ... this person is perceptive.Doron Rice, an architect who was holding a large pair of barbells, peered out the window. “You want my opinion?” he said, “It’s out of context. It’s not the same materials, and it’s not the same scale. It looks like it was dropped here from somewhere in Long Island.”
Architecture should be quirky and eccentric sometimes.
If someone looks at this as a serious attempt at architecture they must be mad.
It really is unique and hilarious.
Why go to all of that trouble... and then make them look so ugly? There are so many manufacturers of cute suburban-style pre-fab modular homes... they could have just hoisted the parts up there and then assembled it. No?
Why so ugly?
According to DOB the architect is DeFONSECA ASSOCIATES ARCHITECTS out of Long Island City.
There's a post HERE about something they did in Brooklyn (81 St. Mark's Place in Park Slope), which Gulcaprek (Where is he? Last post was July 2007) described as:
Derek2k3 gave a livelier description of the same project:
... 6 story stucco building with balconies. Not so great. It's better than it looks in the picture though.
Heh, it seems like his stuff is better suited for tropical climates, where colors and frills disguise crap.
Last edited by lofter1; September 2nd, 2008 at 10:30 AM.
Are these BOXES also add ons.
$10 M. Thunder! Ben Stiller Buys Riverside Duplex from Zabar Scion
by Max Abelson | September 2, 2008
There’s something so inoffensive and smiley about Ben Stiller that he can make phallus-in-the-zipper jokes (or write and direct a Hollywood blockbuster that heavily features blackface) but still come across as a really amiable fellow who likes to stay in close proximity to his aging parents.
So it makes sense that he just spent $10 million on a duplex in a prewar orange-brick co-op on Riverside Drive in the West 80s, the same building that his parents, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, have lived in for years. Mr. Stiller’s name isn’t on the deed, filed last week, though the duplex was bought through a trust that shares the actor’s billing address.
His seller is Ann Zabar, whose family owns the legendary Upper West Side market. Zabar’s Web site says she helps her father, Saul, roast coffee and buy smoked fish, which sounds genuinely spectacular. Her parents live in the building, too: Their number is listed, and when Ms. Zabar’s mother picked up a call from The Observer, she politely refused to disclose her daughter’s buyer. Two sources connected to the building but not the deal confirmed that Mr. Stiller is moving into the building; one, when asked how she got her information, said: “Everybody’s a yenta on the Upper West Side, so everybody knows.”
(As it happens, a May essay in the Israeli paper Haaretz about a visit to the building parenthetically mentions that Mr. Stiller would be buying a $10 million apartment there. In a perfect storm of New York Jewish obsessions, the essay’s writer admits to almost bothering Jerry Seinfeld—whose show featured Jerry Stiller as Frank Costanza—while shopping in Zabar’s.)
The apartment wasn’t on the market, and Ben Stiller didn’t return messages left with his publicist and assistant asking why the actor and his actress wife, Christine Taylor, who both have that happy California glow, would want a place here. “I grew up in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the ’70s,” he said in an interview last month. “There were … fires and riots and serial killers. It was great. My kids, it’s L.A., it’s sunny and nice. They don’t have any excitement.”
© 2008 Observer Media Group,
Last edited by brianac; September 3rd, 2008 at 02:29 PM.
Newmark Retail Ad Imitates Art Skewering Consumerism
by Dana Rubinstein | September 5, 2008
A real estate broker has plastered an Upper West Side retail space with an advertisement imitating (or celebrating) the work of renowned artist Barbara Kruger, who, interestingly enough, borrowed imagery from advertisements in order to criticize consumerism, according to an article in today's Washington Post.
Said real estate broker is Matt Harnett, a photographer and one-time teacher at the School of Visual Arts, who called the ad for retail space at the foot of 2625 Broadway an "ode to Barbara Kruger."
But borrowing from an anti-consumerist artist to promote consumerism is, well, sort of mind-bending. Of course, ad folks have been borrowing from the art world for ages. But, as Post reporter Blake Gopnik put it:
The Kruger case is more noteworthy only because this time there's such an extreme flip in intent between the critical art and the complacent advertising that riffs on its style. Lichtenstein and Warhol were as keen to express genuine affection for their low-culture sources as to treat them with disdain or irony. With Kruger, the critique of the source is more pointed, which makes the reappropriation of her style into pop culture that much stranger.Mr. Gopnik sure does have a point. Then again, given the sheer dullness of most real estate ads, there's something to be said for the sheer aesthetic value of both Ms. Kruger's work, and Mr. Harnett's "ode" to her work, something Mr. Gopnik also acknowledged:
Kruger might borrow the look of commercial art, but her words were meant to stuff new content into it. When you compare her work with the real estate ads, she says, "if you look at the meaning, it's not the same thing they're doing."
Sometimes -- maybe even most of the time -- the look of an image is itself the thing we care most about it. Its look is its crucial content. Its style is its meaning; it's what gets distilled out of it, as the message we take home. When a real estate agent borrows Kruger's look and leaves most of her ideas behind, he may be treating art the way most of us do.For more on Barbara Kruger, click here.
© 2008 Observer Media Group
Upper West Side
The Burgers Are Coming, but Lines Worry the Neighbors
Ruby Washington/The New York Times
Burger buyers in Madison Square Park waiting at Shake Shack.
By CAROLINE H. DWORIN
Published: September 6, 2008
ON any given day in Madison Square Park, New Yorkers seem more willing to wait on line for a single Shake Shack burger than they might at the Louvre for a glimpse of the “Mona Lisa.”
After four years of attracting devotees who stand on hourlong lines at its 20-by-20-foot stand, Shake Shack, Danny Meyer’s burger and milkshake joint, plans to open a larger indoor restaurant in mid-October on Columbus Avenue and West 77th Street.
“When we first found out about it, we were so excited,” said Helen Rosenthal, chairwoman of Community Board 7 in Manhattan. “There were lots of e-mails going back and forth between board members saying, ‘Did you hear?’ ”
First came the news media buzz; then, 10 weeks ago, the initial construction; and, finally, temporary signs as locals began passing by in anticipation of the succulent burgers, impatiently querying construction workers about the restaurant’s opening day.
“We have so many tipsters and readers who are super excited about it,” said Amanda Kludt, the editor of the dining blog Eater.com. “There are a few places in New York where you get crazy lines like that.”
Yet, there was a possibility that troubled many: A line in a park that had the freedom to meander as long and as deep as the Mississippi might be unwieldy on the heavily trafficked sidewalks of the Upper West Side. The fear was that it would clog entrances to nearby establishments or the apartment buildings on 77th Street.
Anne-Rose Fredericks, a lawyer, stopped to check on the construction with her 4-year-old daughter. “If the line’s going to be like it is downtown,” she said, “it’s not going to be good. But we’re a residential neighborhood; we love these kind of family restaurants.”
Mr. Meyer says that many community concerns have already been resolved. He said he had consulted Upper West Side residents on landmark and commercial issues, on minute changes to construction and on ways to snake the line inside the restaurant while permitting diners to sit at enclosed sidewalk tables. Each burger is cooked to order.
“What we’ve done here is triple the amount of griddle space; so from a matter of physics alone, this line will have to move faster,” said Mr. Meyer, who is president of the Union Square Hospitality Group, which owns Shake Shack, the Gramercy Tavern and the Union Square Cafe.
No one knows yet what will happen on opening day — if the new restaurant will hold the crowd or if, indeed, the crowd will come.
Late one evening last week in Madison Square Park, the line at Shake Shack stood strong. Winding back, and more than an hour long, it inched forward at the speed of cooking meat. Businessmen, bikers, college students and at least one pregnant woman bided time for their fix.
Lydia Hensler, a 24-year-old actress, placed her order, then waited with her actor friends. It was her first.
“It’s always like this,” said Adam Frucci, 25, who sat opposite. “At lunch, all the bosses send out their little assistants to wait for an hour in line.”
Ms. Hensler received her burger. She chewed it meditatively. “It’s the meat,” she said. “I thought it might be the sauce, but it’s the meat. I want — seven of them.”
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
A Rock ’n’ Roll Survivor Prepares for Its Rebirth
Gabriele Stabile for The New York Times
All but a few seats have been removed from the Beacon Theater’s auditorium for its first major renovation since it opened as a movie and vaudeville theater on the Upper West Side in 1929. More Photos >
By GLENN COLLINS
Published: September 8, 2008
It almost became a grocery store in the 1970s. In the 1980s, it was nearly jackhammered into a cavernous disco with a triple-tiered restaurant. Somehow it escaped becoming a multiplex. And through 78 years, the neglect of the Beacon Theater in Manhattan — aside from occasional spasms of partial renovation — has often been profound.
Slide Show Restoring the Beacon
Funny thing, though: neglect has an upside. The Beacon “is very worn, and there is damage throughout, but by luck and happenstance the theater survived,” said Christopher T. Cowan, an associate partner at Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners, which is conducting an ambitious restoration of the ornate 1929 former movie palace. “Most of the interior detailing is intact,” he said, “and even most of the light fixtures are original as well.”
The Beacon, at 2124 Broadway, at West 74th Street, is familiar to generations of New Yorkers living on the West Side who grew up there when it was a movie house, performance space and, in recent decades, what some have called the Carnegie Hall of rock rooms.
The Beacon went dark last month for a six-month, $15-million restoration by Madison Square Garden Entertainment, a division of Cablevision Systems Corporation, which announced in 2006 that it was leasing the theater for 20 years. The interior face-lift is to be completed by Jan. 31, in time for a February opening.
Originally conceived as a sumptuous mecca for vaudeville acts and silent movies, it ultimately featured talkies and, through the decades, a galaxy of headliners including Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Jerry Garcia, Tina Turner, Aerosmith, Queen, George Carlin, the Dalai Lama and even Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 60th birthday party.
And the theater was a star in the Martin Scorsese documentary “Shine a Light,” his celebration of the Rolling Stones’ 2006 performances at the Beacon.
The Beacon “has a great vibe, it’s not either a coliseum or a club,” said Gregg Allman, whose Allman Brothers Band holds the record with more than 180 performances at the Beacon since 1989, and whose appearances there have become an annual Manhattan rite of spring.
“There’s a connection with the audience, and when they give back, we keep giving.”
But the theater’s condition meant “that you didn’t want the house lights all the way up, given those cobwebs with the big hunks of dust,” said Mr. Allman, 60.
Thomas J. Travers, a spokesman for the Beacon Broadway Company, which has long owned the theater, said that Cablevision “is doing a fine renovation; they guaranteed they would spend a minimum of $10 million on it, and obviously the theater needed it.”
The terms of the lease are closely guarded by officials of Madison Square Garden Entertainment, which also runs the Knicks and Rangers sports franchises, Radio City Music Hall and the Chicago Theater in Chicago.
Three years older than the Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon was never quite a sibling of its larger counterpart, since the theaters were owned by different companies. But they are together now in the Cablevision empire.
“Mr. Dolan wanted a state-of-the art restoration,” said Jay Marciano, president of Madison Square Garden Entertainment, referring to James L. Dolan, Cablevision’s chief executive. Since Mr. Dolan has been oft-criticized by New York Knicks fans during years of the team’s decline, did Mr. Dolan think of it as some form of penance to spend $5 million more on the Beacon restoration (and an additional $1 million on new air conditioning) than was required by its contract?
“I can’t speak for how he thinks,” Mr. Marciano said of Mr. Dolan. “But he has a lot of personal passion for this project. We view the Beacon as iconic, a beloved city landmark, and restoring the Beacon will be good for New Yorkers and a profitable business venture.” The cost will be recouped during the lease, and ticket prices, which range from $25 to $125, will not increase after the reopening. “Not one dollar,” Mr. Marciano said.
The refurbishment of the theater, whose interior was declared a landmark in 1979, began last month with the removal of 2,800 seats. An important part of the initial work has been a kind of detective story calling upon archival photographs, architectural plans and even the recollections of former theater employees.
Restoration researchers have peeled back layers of what is — literally — house paint slathered on through the decades, and conducted an extensive analysis of the original paint, said Marc Tarozzi, a vice president of facilities at Madison Square Garden.
The Beacon, which critics originally celebrated as a bit of old Baghdad on Upper Broadway, was the brainchild of the impresario Samuel L. Rothafel, known as Roxy, who commissioned a Chicago architect, Walter W. Ahlschlager, to design a vaudeville and silent-film theater called Roxy’s Midway.
It was intended to be part of the Roxy Circuit, joining Rothafel’s 1927 Roxy Theater on West 50th Street, billed as the “Cathedral of the Movies,” which was ultimately demolished in 1960. “The Beacon is a smaller version of the original Roxy,” Mr. Cowan said. “That’s why it’s so important — it’s a window to another world that existed then.”
The opulent theater with its neoclassical rotunda is a pastiche of Greek, Roman, Renaissance and Rococo elements, and an “Arabian Nights” fantasy motif. But when the stock market crashed in 1929, the theater was taken over by Warner Brothers, redesigned and opened as the Beacon on Dec. 24 of that year.
“There never has been a truly major restoration of the Beacon,” Mr. Tarozzi said. And so, a first look at the refurbishing reveals a host of upgrades, including a new maple stage floor and repairs to the roof to fix leaks that have caused damage to the theater’s original murals. New concession stands and dressing rooms will also be installed.
The 1929 sconces and lighting fixtures are being rewired, and the robust network of original ceiling, wall and mural lighting “will be brought back,” Mr. Cowan said. “The lights burned out, and nobody replaced them, so the theater hasn’t been seen in all its glory in 50 years.”
In the rotunda, the ceiling will be cleaned and repainted after decades of blackening from cigarette smoke and grime. A long-lost oil-on-canvas mural, depicting a classical scene, had been replaced by a sheet of now-peeling, faded scenic wallpaper. It will be recreated from historic photographs.
More than 2,100 square yards of custom-patterned wool carpeting in gold, yellow, green and maroon will adorn the lobbies, auditorium and stairways.
And in the auditorium, murals depicting caravans and elephants will be restored, and technicians will repair and repaint sculptures of animals, masks, urns and statues of Greek figures, not to mention richly decorated cornices, ceiling moldings, pilasters, scrolled brackets and medallions. A 30-foot high Venetian-inspired auditorium lighting fixture will be refurbished as well.
Also to be restored will be a multicolored, Moorish-inspired main theater ceiling that presents the stage as if it were behind the open flap of a giant tent.
As the restoration recovers more and more of the Beacon, the survival of so many of its architectural elements is “remarkable,” Mr. Cowan said, “since so few venues like this are left. We are unveiling a true work of art.”
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
New York Observed
Grand Central Apartment
By ANDREW N. SHERMAN
Published: September 12, 2008
IN New York, anything is possible.
On a good day, you can meet the woman of your dreams in a crowded elevator, or reclaim your long-lost dignity by telling off that bully in the packed subway car during rush hour. You can eat a hot dog every five blocks, or catch a midnight showing of “The Manchurian Candidate.” You can be a college dropout and make millions on Wall Street.
Something else is possible in New York: You can freeze your life at a specific point in time. You can do it without cryogenics, and all while living on the beautiful Upper West Side. I know, because I did it. I froze my life at age 27.
I came to New York from Boston in 1998, with no discernible plan or job, just a friend’s couch to sleep on. I thought I’d figure out a way to earn a paycheck, get an apartment, become a big-time actor or writer, sow my oats a bit and ultimately meet the woman of my dreams, with whom I’d settle down and live happily ever after on the Upper West Side or, if necessary, Brooklyn.
Only one of those plans took hold — the apartment. One night that summer, along with Ted, the aforementioned couch-lending friend, I bumped into Beth, a long-lost childhood crush of ours. She was living near Ted’s place, in a three-bedroom apartment on West 71st Street. As luck would have it, Beth and one of her cute female roommates were moving out of town.
With the promise of a slight but permanent connection to Beth, I persuaded Ted to move in with me. Together we joined Megan, who happily ushered us into life in Apartment No. 4 at 222 West 71st Street, quickly pointing out that yes, there was in fact a brothel on the first floor of the building, featuring nubile and friendly young women.
Life during the next decade in Apartment No. 4 is a blur, but the following things happened:
¶The brothel shut down, courtesy of the city’s vice squad, but not before Ted pounded on its door late one night, demanding and perhaps receiving a “neighbor’s special.”
¶Megan moved to a studio on the Upper East Side. Later, we bumped into her and found out she had gotten engaged.
¶A Bush backer named Jay moved in, along with a portrait of Ronald Reagan. Jill followed Jay and replaced Reagan’s image with Al Gore’s, though that wasn’t enough to help Gore win the election.
¶Ted, who had been working as a high school English teacher, quit his job, citing irreconcilable differences with teenagers, and met a woman who lived two blocks east of us. He moved out and married her, and today they live with their two sons in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
¶A beer-swilling P.R. guy found refuge in the apartment after escaping what turned out to be an ill-fated engagement. Baseball coursed through his veins, and unable to resist the call of Red Sox Nation, he moved to Boston.
¶David, one of my best friends, did two stints at West 71st. During the first stint, he met a woman and fell in love. The second occurred several years later, and it marked his last days in New York, before shipping off to Atlanta to a life of matrimonial bliss with that very same woman.
¶An Australian lawyer paid his New York dues in the apartment. Shortly after moving in, he met his wife while in-line skating in Central Park.
¶Kyle the bookmaker stayed for six months before taking a nearby studio apartment with his girlfriend.
¶Jon the graphic designer set up shop for a year before fleeing to Texas in pursuit of a woman who had broken up with him just days after his arrival.
OTHER things happened. An actor who fancied himself Jude Law stayed for a few months. Betsy, an actress from Minnesota, spent entire shade-drawn days getting into character. Temporary residents included an Irish bartender, a summer intern from Hawaii and a compulsive runner who could walk to the Brooklyn Bridge and back and then run 12 miles in Riverside Park.
The city’s power failed one hot summer night, and all we had to eat was a corned beef sandwich from Fine & Shapiro, served in the dark. Issues of Penthouse suddenly appeared in a living room closet. Some funny cigarettes were smoked. Much Hunan Park Chinese food was eaten. A dog named Bodhi became the apartment’s de facto mascot.
Through it all — the happy unions and failed relationships, the tragedies and brothel closings, the New York arrivals and departures — I remained unscathed, accumulating no significant emotional baggage, major material possessions or children. Sure, I lost a job, two potential long-term girlfriends, my grandmother, some money and from time to time my sense of humor. And yes, I found something like a “career” in public relations.
But nothing happened that altered my life permanently. I still look and feel the way I did on the day I began to call 222 West 71st Street my home.
I’m still 27 and carefree, the Yankees are still better than the Red Sox, and I could still meet the woman of my dreams on a subway platform, in Central Park or in Malachy’s on West 72nd Street.
There’s only one problem. A few weeks ago, I was ordered to leave 222 West 71st Street. My lease was up, and the owner wanted to renovate the building and raise the rent. When I learned my fate, via a letter from the owner, I felt like Doc Brown applying the final touches to his time-traveling DeLorean, only to be discovered at the last minute by the dreaded Libyans. Like Doc, I thought: “My God, they found me!”
Who knows what will happen to me when I walk out of this place? Maybe my life will suddenly defrost, and the aging process will accelerate, making me look like the wrinkly-faced baby in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” a forthcoming Brad Pitt movie about a man who ages backward.
In fact, it’s entirely possible that a year from now I will be married, with a successful writing career and a beautiful wife named Beth.
If you’re reading this, Beth, maybe it’s time you moved back to New York. The Upper West Side needs us.
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
brianac, thanks for single-handedly keeping up the forum's flow of West Side news. You and I apparently share an abiding interest in what remains arguably New York's most atmospheric district.
The article on 71st Street particularly caught my eye, since I once lived on that street. At various other times, I also lived on West 84th, 106th, 108th and 111th Streets. My unfulfilled ambition was and is to live on Riverside Drive or West End Avenue in one of those gently dilapidated old doorman buildings.
Ablarc, it's true about my liking for this area.
When I made my first visit to New York in 2005 I was offered accomodation in all parts of the city, but I only wanted to stay on the Upper West Side. I searched trip advisor and found an hotel that suited me perfectly at 75th and Broadway. I have never regreted choosing this area.
I also have a dream of living somewhere around HERE
Franconia Rooftop Palace Plop Rejected
Monday, September 15, 2008, by Robert
UPPER WEST SIDE—Among those with great faith in the future of the New York City real estate market is the board of the Franconia Apartments on W. 72 Street. Those with a memory for such things might recall that it had a perch available for rooftop plopping. The building was asking $8.7 million for "the rights to build a deluxe custom duplex home on its rooftop." A tipster writes the following terse, yet attention-getting email: "Board rejected full price offer!" For real. [CurbedWire Inbox]
Copyright © 2008 Curbed
This is one of the worst corners on prime real estate in the city. I hate it.