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Wednesday, July 22, 2009


The thing that bothers me most about the word maverick is that it appears to never be used by mavericks, only by established journalists or interviewers, typically to describe business iconoclasts, another word rarely used by true iconoclasts. 
And so we can really never know by reading the accounts of reviewers how much of a maverick any person really is, such as Thom Mayne of Morphosis, designer of the new Cooper Union Building at .... In 2005, Mayne won the highly regarded Pritzker Architecture Prize, the first American to have won it in 14 years. The NY Times article headline at the time was "American Maverick Wins Pritzer Prize."
There has been a lot of development in this immediate area of the East Village around Astor Place by NYU, Cooper Union and private developers, with projects such as the Gwathmey residential tower (see here). I do empathize with all the critics of these projects and any displaced tenants, however, in fairness, there is also a lot of really hideous architecture in this largely seedy area. I find the massive scale of the new building a little daunting, however, at this point, I find new work like this a visual relief from the abominations that abound. A replacement, designed by Japanese starchitect Fumihiko Maki for the building at 51 Astor Place, is in progress. The structure being replaced has been desribed as the "ugly beige eyesore connected to Starbucks."
The new Cooper Union engineering building at 41 Cooper Square (3rd Avenue) , with its signature perforated metal exterior, is of course highly contentious with neighborhood residents - graffiti nearby proclaimed : ALIENS! PLEASE PARK SPACECRAFT ELSEWHERE! Architecture critics, however, including Nicolai Ouroussoff from the New York Times, generally like the building. For his article about the building along with a multimedia slide show, go here.
My family loved to use the word cowboy to describe a wild and rebellious individual. Personally I'll take cowboy over maverick :) 


Naomid said...

The building is starting to grow on me. It matches the Cooper Sq hotel, and that weird bank across the street.

Thérèse said...

Jean Nouvel - Pritzker 2008 - would say "the world is moving, architecture must move too"
The difficulty is in the Fit of the building in the surroundings.

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