Oculus - Winter 2014 - (Page 11)
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
©Janet Adams Strong
Tall Is as Tall Does
Editor ever hopeful for an
ew York is growing up - and up and up and up. Hardly a day goes by
without an announcement (or rumor) of plans for a new tower somewhere in the city. And now, with the arrival of "supertalls" and "super-thins,"
even our understanding of "tower" has changed. At what floor does "a tower"
become "a supertall"?
As the title of this issue of Oculus suggests, we look at how some of the
new sentinels soaring into the skyline and built (mostly) for the mega-rich
behave at street level. Will they be good neighbors to us earthbound common
folk? Time will tell. In the Opener (pg. 21), James S. Russell, FAIA, eloquently
puts the case studies presented here into that context. (We will be dealing with
housing and affordability in the Fall 2015 issue, "Home.")
In our regular departments, "One Block Over" considers not only the
"museum of architecture" rising along the High Line, but also the changing
streetscapes around and under the elevated park. "In Print" hails Jean DeJean's
How Paris Became Paris, which explains how its rise to greatness closely reflects "our current preoccupations." And while Jaime Lerner's Urban Acupuncture may be a slim volume, it is rich with observations about how even the
smallest gestures can help make a city work better. Our "80-Year-Watch" looks
back at Le Corbusier's first impression of the city's skyline, with his proclamation that Manhattan's skyscrapers were "too small," which didn't endear him
to America - or bring him the commissions he was expecting.
Corbu would probably approve of what's going up in my neck of the woods
along Second Avenue, in anticipation of the Second Avenue Subway making
its way (slowly, but finally) downtown. Though it's no "Billionaires' Row," from
my corner at 52nd Street I've been watching luxury residential towers rise
to what is now considered a modestly-scaled range of 30 stories or so. Their
street-front limestone façades line up, in almost friendly fashion, with the
rooflines of what's left of a motley collection of 19th- and early 20th-century
brownstones housing the vestiges of small-business retail, ethnic restaurants,
and (loud) yuppie-puppy pubs. Yes, the glassy towers sparkle chicly on the
skyline. But are they good neighbors? One tower offers a claustrophobic
Walgreens huddled behind blocked-out, half-block-long, plate-glass windows.
Across the avenue, the street tenant is a generically-styled bank branch. (No
telling yet what will inhabit the bases of two other towers still under construction). Gone are the hardware store, with its ancient, sloping floorboards, that
had served the 'hood since the 1930s; the shoemaker; the laundromat; and the
tiny, tacky - but delicious - Chinese restaurant.
Yes, New York is growing up. A Burj Manhattan anytime soon? Not likely
- but never say never (though more likely in Jersey City, perhaps?). Growing
up, however, involves more than height. Whether our changing skyline draws
oohs or boos, we also need to make sure the streets have light and air, and the
public realm inspires. In that, there's always room to grow.
Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA
Changing Skyline/Evolving Streets
Winter 2014 Oculus
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Winter 2014
First Words: Letter from Two Presidents - Vision and Transition
Letter from the Editor - Tall Is as Tall Does
Center for Architecture - Center Highlights
One Block Over - Not All High Line Highlights Are On the Skyline: As a “museum of architecture” rises along the lush, elevated park, some streetscapes are coming to life
Opener: Of Sidewalks and Skylines
Hello, We’re at a Place Called Vertigo - 57th Street is sprouting residential supertalls. With great height comes great expectations. What aspects of these buildings earn so much of the sky?
Tower at the Crossroads - One Vanderbilt sculpts its top and bottom to trade additional floors for street-level amenity
The Mid-block Move - Side streets aren’t just for background buildings anymore
In Step with the Neighborhood - The new BAM South development is designed with equal attention to Downtown Brooklyn’s skyline and streetlevel civic space
LULU Hits the Streets - A sanitation garage shows how to make a Locally Undesirable Land Use...desirable
Just Another Messy Urban Neighborhood - Remarkable simply for being normal, Melrose Commons flourishes where the Bronx once burned
New Practices New York 2014 - Farms, think tanks, sausages, and nomadic operations – just some of the things these young design firms are focusing on
In Print - How Paris Became Paris: The Inventio
80-Year Watch - Le Corbusier’s first sight of Manhattan’s skyscrapers evoked a controversial yet prophetic response
Last Words - Hit the Road
Index to Advertisers - Alphabetical & Categorical Index
Oculus - Winter 2014