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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

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Carter Uncut, Features, Major Developments, opinion, Transportation

Carter's View LaGuardia Airport, Carter's View, LaGuardia Airport, the new LaGuardia Airport

Carter Uncut brings New York City’s breaking development news under the critical eye of resident architecture critic Carter B. Horsley. This week Carter looks at the new $4 billion LaGuardia airport proposal

The recent announcement by Governor Cuomo and Vice President Joe Biden of plans to “rebuild” La Guardia Airport at a cost of $4 billion was described in a Page One caption in The Post as “the end of an error,” a reference to the airport’s reputation that became tarnished over the years. Last October, Biden remarked that if someone had taken him to LaGuardia, he’d think he was in “some Third World country.”

Since its opening in 1939, when it accommodated “flying boats” at its Marine Air Terminal, the airport has not kept up with the growth of jumbo jets and air travel in general, but in the days of the Super Constellation passenger planes with their triple-tails and sloping noses, it was a very nice Art Deco place.

The published renderings that accompanied the announcement were not terribly reassuring, as they depicted a very long curved terminal with gangly tentacles raised over plane taxiways that hinted at torsos of praying mantises: an awkward rather than a graceful vault.

More from Carter here

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Features, Midtown East, opinion

St. Patrick's Cathedral, NYC landmarks, James Renwick Jr.

The restored façade of St. Patrick’s Cathedral © 6sqft

“Is that St. Patrick’s Cathedral?” asked the passerby.

“Yes. It’s just been cleaned.”

“So that’s why I didn’t recognize it. I was looking for something gray.”

To the pleasure of all, St. Pat’s has emerged from its cocoon and it is brilliant to behold. Scaffolding is still up inside the cathedral, sharing the space with worshippers; and work may go on through the rest of this year. It is an enormous building, after all, occuping a full city block between 50th and 51st Street, and Fifth and Madison Avenues. On the outside the building was always impressive; now it is magnificent. It makes one think of the panoply and power of the Church, stately processions, gorgeous robes, bejeweled crosses and cardinals’ rings, incantations of the priests and congregation extolling the glory of God.

It also makes one think of the cost—$177 million—and wonder how far that money would go to aid the poor and feed the hungry of the earth, traditional missions of Christianity. Not very far, maybe, since world hunger is not assuaged by one meal. But to be a glittering promise of sublime afterlife for millions—that is conceivably worth it.

What’s next for St. Patrick’s?

New Developments, opinion, Polls, Starchitecture, Urban Design

Before 9/11, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum planned a new outpost on the East River in Lower Manhattan, sculpted by none other than starchitect Frank Gehry. But after the tragedy, the project was scratched. Now, the planned South Street Seaport project would replace the area’s main pier with a lower, glass structure that looks like a surburban mall at the base of a new 40-something-story tower on the former site of the Fulton Fish Market. But 6sqft’s Architecture Writer Carter B. Horsley thinks the Howard Hughes Corporation should abandon the current SHoP Architects-designed plan and replace it with a resurrected version of Gehry’s fabulous, titanium ribbon-laced Guggenheim vision. Do you agree?

Images: Guggenheim Bilbao by Frank Gehry via Wiki Commons (L); Current South Street Seaport plan via SHoP Architects (R)

[Related: Unleash Gehry: Give Frank the East River and Churn the Lower Manhattan Pot]

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Carter Uncut, Features, New Developments, opinion, Starchitecture, Urban Design

frank gehry bilbao museum

Image: Frank Gehry against his design for the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain

The Foundation Louis Vuitton in the Bois de Bologne in Paris recently opened and was another kudo for architect Frank O. Gehry whose Bilbao, Spain, branch of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1999 was widely regarded as the most important architecture project since the opening of the Pompidou Center in Paris in 1975. All these projects are Deconstructivist; they don’t fit easily into boxes and are not symmetrical. Their aesthetic tends to be chaotic, disorganized, aggressive, random and definitely unconventional, but also absolutely heroic, proud and defiant.

The Pompidou Center was huge and intimidating, a gargantuan power plant for some unfinished but gaily painted super ocean liner. By comparison, the Guggenheim was a shiny swirl of silvery metal cascading by its riverfront location in a staccato flurry of flamenco stomps. Vuitton is a whole other gesture altogether; an organic amorphous form about to devour a city, formed of glass, wood and concrete in rearing and overlapping fashion, a mad dash about enclosure.

All of these might just amount to a sophisticated bowl of cherries for architecture aficionados, except that this project was a baby of Bernard Arnault, the head of the luxury conglomerate that runs not only Louis Vuitton, the purser, but also bubbler Moët & Chandon, sipper Hennessy, dazzler Bulgari and fashionistas Dior, Fendi and Givenchy—all One-Percent darlings. These, of course, are not the only platinum brands but they’ll certainly do in an all-so-sizzling and svelte pinch.

You may now ask what has all this to do with our city.

Read more here

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Features, holidays, opinion, People, Social Media

NYC scene

That’s the question that we’ve been asking 6sqft’s friends and Twitter followers leading up to Thanksgiving. It’s easy to get pulled into the NYC complaining vortex (The 6 train is delayed again?! You’re raising my rent how much?!), but the reality is that we live in the greatest city in the entire world, and there’s plenty here to be thankful for, whether it’s something as small as seeing a cute dog on the street or as large as visiting famous museums.

Read the responses we got here

Events, opinion, real estate trends

2014 Massey Knakal Brooklyn Real Estate Summit, Massey Knakal Brooklyn Real Estate Summit, Brooklyn Real Estate Summit, brooklyn real estate, brooklyn real estate forecast, brooklyn real estate events

Brooklyn real estate is hot, very hot, and there’s no cooling off in sight, according to most speakers at yesterday’s sold-out Brooklyn Real Estate Summit, sponsored by Massey Knakal and held at the Brooklyn Museum. From Billy Macklowe to David Shorenstein and Jonathan Rose, get the run-down of what the industry’s leading pundits have to say about BK real estate.

What they’re saying about Brooklyn here

City Living, opinion

My Gay Summer: Maybe We Are Moving Forward After All

By Andrew Cotto, Sun, August 17, 2014

Fire Island Pines Beach NY

Last Saturday, I walked out of a Fire Island Pines liquor store just as a friend was walking in. “Hello, handsome,” I said without pause.

My friend was less decorous.

“What the f*%k are you doing here?!?” He asked, his face flushed with wonder.

It was a legitimate question since The Pines is famously gay, and I’m neither famous nor gay; but, considering my summer so far, me in the company of gay men no longer seems wonder inducing to me.

Andrew’s revelations this way

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Features, opinion, real estate trends

There’s been lots of chatter on the street and in the media on the subject of “poor doors” in new developments for those who have qualified for affordable housing. And though this subject has created quite a bit of controversy, it’s actually not quite what it seems. Rather than being outraged that our city allows real estate developers to “discriminate” against those who could never consider paying for the privilege of residing in their latest and greatest luxury building, naysayers should think about reading up on exactly what affordable housing is and isn’t—“rich” home seekers having an edge over the so-called “poor.”

We look at 80/20 and the ‘poor door’ controversy here

Architecture, opinion, Starchitecture

Norman Foster, London Gherkin, Hearst Tower, starchitecture

So often it’s the starchitects who get a bad name–for ruining city skylines with their larger-than-life towers, for obscuring park views, or for neglecting to take into account their surroundings. But a new opinion piece in the New York Times by Allison Arieff argues that the blame can’t be solely placed on these so-called starchitects, but rather on the architecture community at large.

Read more about Arieff’s case here


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