Thursday, October 13, 2005


Joe, of Joe. My. God. , mentioned in a recent blog post that a topic du jour in the New York architect scene is the demolition of 2 Columbus Circle.

I admit that when I was a young lad this building confused me. As a child I had fawned over the Chrysler building and the Empire State building. Although unpopular because of their ultra modernistic minimalism, the Twin Towers of the World Trade center consumed my gaze as I would journey on the ferry from Staten Island to Manhattan. 2 Columbus Circle however remained an enigma. Joe, on his blog even mentioned that he thought it was an air shaft for the subway. I admit as a child that I had the same sentiment. It was just another old building on my way to the Lincoln Center for the annual Mostly Mozart festival.

Now that there is a debate as to whether or not this building should be renovated to give way to a new modern building, my ambiguity has faded. If this building is to be renovated so that another uninspiring glass rectangle is to go up in its place I say let it stand. Let it stand as a reminder that at point in time our nation was a place where progressive architecture was encouraged and appreciated. Its no Chrysler building but its sure better than most of the spartan, glass blocks going up in New York and far better than the planned development for the Ratner development in Brooklyn designed by the overexposed Frank Gehry; a jumble of buildings meant to look like they are falling. Very tasteful given the context of 9/11.

The last thing that needs to happen in New York is the deconstruction or original architecture when around the world unique and height defying skyscrapers are being erected. Although the New York skyline is iconic it is bordering on becoming antiquated by competition from cities like Hong Kong and Beijing. Its embarrassing that the city that gave birth to the grandiloquent skyscraper is now being populated by muddled or featureless boxes whilst modifying the structures that make it unique.


Blogger The Wisdom of Wislon said...

Having never been to the US i've no idea really of the scale and impact your scrapers have on its people.

It must be odd to see little boxes in-filling spaces and dwarfed by larger surrounding buildings.

Nice to chat about something else for a change, bring on the buildings and art I say ;-)

3:35 AM  
Blogger The Wisdom of Wislon said...

ps; i used to be Goldiemowling by the way ;-)

3:36 AM  
Blogger tim said...

I agree about 2 Columbus Circle. Either leave it alone or renovate it. Unfortunately, it is not a landmark building, and it is privately owned, so it will be torn down. I literally just walked by it about 2 hours ago on my way to the Whole Foods. I say, renovate and make it into something we can all enjoy.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Will said...

I remember the original controversy over that building, originally the Huntington Hartford Museum. It was windowless because supposedly the art would deteriorate if sunlight got in. Architecture critics universally trashed it. New Yorkers made fun of it.

Once the art left, there was the question of who wanted a windowless building held to be a visual blot on the cityscape by those "who should know." Truth to tell, I always kind of liked it.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

I've walked by that buidling so many times but never really noticed it closely. I too am disturbed that each time I return to NYC, it visually morphs. If it has to be torn down, lets hope that a beige and glass box with pyramid top doesn't grow back in its place.

2:11 PM  

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