All posts by Carter B. Horsley

Carter is an architecture critic and the editor and publisher of The City Review. He worked for 26 years at The New York Times where he covered real estate for 14 years, and for seven years, produced the nationally syndicated weeknight radio program “Tomorrow’s Front Page of The New York Times.” For nearly a decade, Carter also wrote the entire North American Architecture and Real Estate Annual Supplement for The International Herald Tribune. Shortly after his time at the Tribune, he joined The New York Post as its architecture critic and real estate editor. He has also contributed to The New York Sun’s architecture column. In his spare time he composes and records electronic music, and collects 19th Century American paintings, antiquities, and tribal art.

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Featured Story

Architecture, Features, History, Midtown

pan am building helipad

Perhaps the most detested Midtown skyscraper by the public, this huge tower has nevertheless always been a popular building with tenants for its prime location over Grand Central Terminal and its many views up and down Park Avenue. It is also one of the world’s finest examples of the Brutalist architecture, commendable for its robust form and excellent public spaces, as well as its excellent integration into the elevated arterial roads around it.

However, there is no argument that it is also immensely bulky with a monstrous height. As shown in the photograph ahead, to its north, the building completely overshadows the Helmsley Building, an iconic product of Warren & Wetmore’s Terminal City complex. The pyramid-topped Helmsley Building once straddled the avenue with remarkable grace, and as one of the city’s very rare, “drive-through” buildings, it was the great centerpiece of Park Avenue. But by shrouding such a masterpiece in its shadows, the Pan Am Building (today the MetLife building) desecrated a major icon that will unfortunately never recover from such a contemptible slight on a prominent site.

Read more about the significance of this building here

Featured Story

Architecture, Carter Uncut, Features, History, Urban Design

Image of WWP via Macklowe Properties

What does it take to jump-start an unglamorous neighborhood? A huge development? A mixed-use project? New transit facilities?

When this full-block, mixed-use development project was conceived in the mid-1980s the area in and around Times Square was one of the city’s worst. It was riddled with crime and pornography and was run-down, especially along Eighth Avenue. The proposition to add a building that was the scale of the full-block One Worldwide Plaza development, therefore, was not only surprising, but shocking and downright unthinkable.

The legendary Madison Square Garden designed by Thomas W. Lamb had occupied its site from 1925 to 1966, but its second incarnation here was rather ramshackle especially in comparison to its previous glorious building on Madison Avenue at 26th Street. When it moved south next to the “new” Penn Station 16 blocks to the south, this site became the city’s largest parking lot and it took about a decade and a half for it to find a new life. The site was finally developed and completed in 1989 by a syndicate headed by William Zeckendorf Jr. that included Arthur Cohen and Worldwide Realty partners Frank Stanton and Victor Elmaleh.

more on the rise of worldwide plaza and how it revived midtown manhattan

Featured Story

Architecture, Carter Uncut, Features, Starchitecture, Urban Design

Carter Uncut brings New York City’s latest development news under the critical eye of resident architecture critic Carter B. Horsley. Ahead, Carter brings us his ninth and final installment of “Skyline Wars,” a series that examines the explosive and unprecedented supertall phenomenon that is transforming the city’s silhouette. In this post Carter takes at aim the quality of design of those towers rising around the city right now, and how they fail to inspire when compared to those found internationally.

The explosive transformation of the New York City skyline now underway is occurring without any plan in a very haphazard fashion. Some of the new towers are not ugly but compared to many new ones elsewhere, especially those that are free-standing, they’re not going to win many top honors. Many are very thin, mid-block incursions. Others arrogantly abut and loom over landmarks with nary a thought to context. Some clearly are aimed at one-percenters and offer lavish amenities and layouts. But many others are squeezing potential residents like sardines into very small apartments in attempts to set new “density” records.

The towers that got it wrong, and right

Featured Story

Architecture, Carter Uncut, Features, Urban Design

Skyline Wars: Accounting for New York’s Stray Supertalls

By Carter B. Horsley, Wed, May 11, 2016

skyline strays

Carter Uncut brings New York City’s latest development news under the critical eye of resident architecture critic Carter B. Horsley. Ahead, Carter brings us his eighth installment of “Skyline Wars,” a series that examines the explosive and unprecedented supertall phenomenon that is transforming the city’s silhouette. In this post Carter looks at the “stray” supertalls rising in low slung neighborhoods.

Most of the city’s recent supertall developments have occurred in traditional high-rise commercial districts such as the Financial District, the Plaza District, downtown Brooklyn and Long Island City. Some are also sprouting in new districts such as the Hudson Yards in far West Midtown.

There are, however, some isolated “stray” supertalls that are rising up in relatively virgin tall territories, such as next to the Manhattan Bridge on the Lower East Side and Sutton Place.

read more from carter here

Featured Story

Architecture, Carter Uncut, Features, New Jersey, real estate trends, Urban Design

jersey city skyline

Carter Uncut brings New York City’s latest development news under the critical eye of resident architecture critic Carter B. Horsley. Here, Carter brings us his seventh installment of “Skyline Wars,” a series that examines the explosive and unprecedented supertall phenomenon that is transforming the city’s silhouette. In this post Carter looks at the new New Jersey skyline.

The hulking, 781-foot-high Goldman Sachs tower at 30 Hudson Street in Jersey City is like the Rock of Gilbraltar to Lower Manhattan’s famed skyline: massive and impressive. To some, perhaps, it conjures a Monty Python catapult or a very steep cliff on which to mount the Guns of Navarone for an assault on Lower Manhattan. It dominates the Jersey City skyline, which is a bit Spartan, especially in comparison with Brooklyn’s. Most of the skyscrapers in Brooklyn, however, are not directly on the waterfront and the Goldman tower is very much “in your face” on the water. Furthermore, all of a relative sudden, Jersey City is about to explode with three taller towers, which I can only describe as delirious, dancing, shimmy-shimmy-shake buildings with drop-dead vistas of Manhattan and the Hudson.

read more from carter here

Featured Story

Architecture, Carter Uncut, Features, Long Island City, Queens, Urban Design

Carter Uncut brings New York City’s latest development news under the critical eye of resident architecture critic Carter B. Horsley. Here, Carter brings us his sixth installment of “Skyline Wars,” a series that examines the explosive and unprecedented supertall phenomenon that is transforming the city’s silhouette. In this post Carter looks at the new towers defining the Queens skyline.

For a long time, the glass tower erected by Citibank was the lone skyscraper of note in Queens. Known initially as Citicorp at Court Square, it was built in 1989 and designed by Raul de Armas of SOM as a blue-green metal-panel-and-glass office tower with just a few setbacks at its 633-foot-high top—an extremely clean-cut, modern obelisk of fine proportions.

In a 1988 article in The New York Times, Anthony DePalma wrote that the tower “dominates the Queens skyline like a sequoia in the desert” and Paul Goldberger, then the newspaper’s architecture critic, wrote the tower was “rapidly becoming one of the most conspicuous structures in the entire city.” He added, “It is a very unlikely thing, this building—no other skyscraper in New York is remotely like the Citicorp tower, not so much for its design as for the fact that it stands free, alone in this landscape of gas stations, warehouses and row houses,”

The bank tower transformed “the landscape of New York” and “no longer does Manhattan virtually by itself control the skyline,” Mr. Goldberger continued. “Skyscrapers built at random all over New York would be devastating, but an occasional exclamation point, well designed and carefully placed, will do the skyline no grievous harm,” he concluded. This is a very important but also very controversial point as currently evidenced in Manhattan where traditional precincts are being pin-pricked to exhaustion and confusion by supertalls.

more on the queens skyline

Featured Story

Architecture, Brooklyn, Carter Uncut, Downtown Brooklyn, Features, real estate trends, Urban Design

Skyline Wars: Brooklyn Enters the Supertall Race

By Carter B. Horsley, Wed, April 20, 2016

Carter Uncut brings New York City’s latest development news under the critical eye of resident architecture critic Carter B. Horsley. Here, Carter brings us his fifth installment of “Skyline Wars,” a series that examines the explosive and unprecedented supertall phenomenon that is transforming the city’s silhouette. In this post Carter looks at Brooklyn’s once demure skyline, soon to be Manhattan’s rival.

Downtown Brooklyn has had a modest but pleasant skyline highlighted by the 350-foot-high Court & Remsen Building and the 343-foot-high great ornate terraces of 75 Livingston Street, both erected in 1926, and the 462-foot-high flat top of the 1927 Montague Court Building. The borough’s tallest building, however, was the great 514-foot-high dome of the 1929 Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower, now known as One Hanson Place, a bit removed to the east from Downtown Brooklyn. It remained as the borough’s tallest for a very long time, from 1929 until 2009. A flurry of new towers in recent years has significantly enlarged Brooklyn’s skyline. Since 2008, nine new towers higher than 359 feet have sprouted there, in large part as a result of a rezoning by the city in 2007. A few other towers have also given its riverfront an impressive frontage.

Whereas in the past the vast majority of towers were clustered about Borough Hall downtown, now there are several clusters with some around the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the former Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower and some around the Williamsburg riverfront.

more on Brooklyn’s skyline here

Featured Story

Architecture, Battery Park City, Carter Uncut, Features, Financial District, History, opinion, Urban Design

Skyline Wars: In Lower Manhattan, A New Downtown Is Emerging

By Carter B. Horsley, Mon, April 18, 2016

carters view downtown manhattan

Carter Uncut brings New York City’s latest development news under the critical eye of resident architecture critic Carter B. Horsley. This week Carter brings us his fourth installment of “Skyline Wars,” a series that examines the explosive and unprecedented supertall phenomenon that is transforming the city’s silhouette. In this post Carter looks at the evolution of the Lower Manhattan skyline.

Lower Manhattan at the start of the Great Depression was the world’s most famous and influential skyline when 70 Pine, 20 Exchange Place, 1 and 40 Wall Street, and the Woolworth and Singer buildings inspired the world with their romantic silhouettes in a relatively balanced reach for the sky centered around the tip of Lower Manhattan.

Midtown was not asleep at the switch and countered with the great Empire State, the spectacular Chrysler and 30 Rockefeller Plaza but they were scattered and could not topple the aggregate visual power and lure of Lower Manhattan and its proverbial “view from the 40th floor” as the hallowed precinct of corporate America until the end of World War II.

The convenience and elegance of Midtown, however, became increasingly irresistible to many.

More on the the history of Lower Manhattan and what’s in store

Architecture, History

The Best and Worst of Brutalist Architecture in New York

By Carter B. Horsley, Sun, March 6, 2016

guggenheim nyc

Frills are not part of the Brutalist vocabulary. Brutalist architecture has never been very popular but its blunt forcefulness, its rude breaking with tradition, and its startling and often simplistic inventiveness have made it hard to ignore and therefore still very vital. While Brutalism flourished in the 1960s, it has long suffered from a reputation as being ugly, cheap and unfeeling. Yet in the face of the harshest critics, it remains in the news.

As with anything, there is, of course, good Brutalism and bad Brutalism. Ahead we’ll go through New York City’s best and worst examples from this school of architecture.

SEE THEM ALL HERE…

 

Featured Story

Carter Uncut, Construction Update, Features, hudson yards, Major Developments, Midtown West, Starchitecture, Urban Design

hudson yards skyline

Carter Uncut brings New York City’s breaking development news under the critical eye of resident architecture critic Carter B. Horsley. This week Carter brings us the third installment of “Skyline Wars,” a series that examines the explosive and unprecedented supertall phenomenon that is transforming the city’s silhouette. In this post Carter zooms in on Hudson Yards.

The Hudson Yards neighborhood in Far Midtown West is one of the country’s most active construction areas. Construction cranes dot its emerging skyline and dozens more are promised now with the district’s improved connection to the rest of the city. Last fall, the 7-line subway station at Eleventh Avenue and 34th Street opened with one-stop access to Times Square. The newly-minted station features a lengthy diagonal escalator bringing commuters to the front-door of the huge mixed-use project being created over the rail yards west of Tenth Avenue between 30th and 33rd streets. Originally, a second station was contemplated on 41st Street and Tenth Avenue but transit officials claimed it could not afford the $500 million expenditure, despite the enormous amount of new residential construction occurring along the far West 42nd Street corridor.

Nevertheless, the finished Hudson Yards station deposits straphangers into a new diagonal boulevard and park between 10th and 11th Avenues that will ultimately stretch from the Related Companies / Oxford Property Group’s Hudson Yards master plan northward to 42nd Street.

read more from carter here

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