Tuesday, August 16, 2011
'Tis a Sight to Behold
You could easily find millions of New Yorkers who have no idea that this spectacular structure at 8 Spruce Street exists or that it is the tallest residential structure in the Western Hemisphere. I would be included in that group. However, as I approached the building, I began to recall the media attention surrounding this highly applauded residential tower, formerly the Beekman Tower and currently known as New York by Gehry, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.
I made this secret discovery on a foggy Sunday evening while cruising lower Manhattan - one does not have to look hard to find a 76-story, 867-foot building. A foggy, stormy night is a great time for observing New York City's skyscrapers. With their heads in the clouds, these towers provide all of the ambiance and drama of Batman's Gotham city.
New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff called it "the finest skyscraper to rise in New York since Eero Saarinen’s CBS building went up 46 years ago." New Yorker magazine's Paul Goldberger described it as "one of the most beautiful towers downtown." Goldberger compared Gehry's tower to the nearby Woolworth Building, completed in 1913, and said that "it is the first thing built downtown since then that actually deserves to stand beside it." These are extraordinary accolades from New York City's premier architecture critics who are hard to please and prone to dissect and crucify. But the accolades are justified.
I circumnavigated it at nearby street level. However, I highly recommend seeing this tower from various vantage points, since one of the primary distinctions about this structure is its changing form when viewed from different perspectives. From the New York Times:
… once you see the tower in the skyline, a view that seems to lift Lower Manhattan out of its decade-long gloom. The building is particularly mesmerizing from the Brooklyn waterfront, where it’s possible to make out one of the deep setbacks that give the building its reassuringly old-fashioned feel. In daylight the furrowed surfaces of the facades look as if they’ve been etched by rivulets of water, an effect that is all the more dramatic next to the clunky 1980s glass towers just to the south. Closer up, from City Hall Park, the same ripples look softer, like crumpled fabric.
The building’s exterior is made up of 10,500 individual steel panels, almost all of them different shapes, so that as you move around it, its shape is constantly changing. And by using the same kind of computer modeling that he used for his Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, more than a decade ago, he was able to achieve this quality at a close to negligible increase in cost.
But Mr. Gehry is also making a statement. The building’s endlessly shifting surfaces are an attack against the kind of corporate standardization so evident in the buildings to the south and the conformity that it embodied.
'Tis a sight to behold :)
Other buildings and skyscrapers: New York Rockies, I've Got a Feeling, Where Sleeping Giants Lie, All of These Pleasures, Color of Money, Trump Soho, Beacon of Hope, Towers, Pan Am Building, Crisis at Citicorp, Hearst Tower, Trumped Again, Time Warner Center