The Glass Stampede
New York's Justin Davidson has written a long and thoughtful piece on the architectural transformation of New York City these past few years (its a week or two old by now, but we're just getting around to it). The article includes before and after pictures of 54 of the 76,000 (!) new buildings constructed since 1993, as Davidson attempts to answer the question "has this ferment improved New York or eaten away at the city’s soul?". In the end, Davidson concludes that while "[it] would be wonderful if we could stem the Avalonization of New York simply by demanding better buildings... (Good Design Now!)", "most architecture in any age is crap, and today’s crap isn’t as bad as yesterday’s". Based on his analysis, we can buy that, though his thesis certainly applies better to Manhattan than Brooklyn. Why does Brooklyn (and LIC) get all the missed opportunities?
All in all its a very good article - the more so because we tend to agree with most of his calls. Both the good (Rossi's Scholastic, ShOP's Porter House, Nouvel's 40 Mercer and Piano's Morgan Library to name a few); and the bad (of course, Greenberg Farrow's
Dutch Mustard 80 Metropolitan, Gruzen Sampton's J Condo, O'Hara's Ten63). On Dutch Mustard, Davidson has this to say:
Rather than renovate, Steiner NYC tore down the rather fancy Old Dutch Mustard plant and worked up a new six-story residential complex, currently under construction. There is no evidence that it will be marvelous enough to take the bite out of the loss.
We couldn't have said it better (though we have certainly said it fairly often).