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What Might Have Been: Astor Place Cheese Grater

In the wake of the buzz about the new Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District and last week's coverage of the Cooper Union condo project, Curbed architecture operative Theodore Grunewald takes a look at the unbuilt Rem Koolhaas hotel plan for Astor Place, lovingly known as the Cheese Grater:

The site where the Gwathmey Siegel luxury condo is now rising is the same site on which a few years ago, Ian Schrager (together with his hotel designer Philippe Starck) was going to put up an innovative pod hotel designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Rem Koolhaas of OMA/Rem Koolhaas and Jacques Herzog of Herzog & de Meuron. However awkward Koolhaas' tower design might have been on the skyline, I think his building would have been exciting at ground level. Koohaas' highly theatrical retail environment designed for Prada at Prince St. and Broadway is exciting for the way it is imbued with downtown's chic energy.

Some of Schrager/Starck/Koohaas' over-the-top theatre would have been most welcome at Astor Place; it would have helped communicate?and concentrate?Astor Place's raw vitality and crystallize its importance as a public gathering place. Rather than prim squares of colored commercial cardboard floating behind a prissily smooth glass and aluminum skin, Astor Place needs something punk. A building pierced and mowhawked. Koolhaas would have delivered.

Plans for the Rem Hotel died post-9/11, though by that time Schrager had replaced Koolhaus on the project?with Frank Gehry, natch?after a big hissy fit between the two.
· Cooper Union-approved Astor Hotel model on display []
· Has Rem Koolhaas Abandoned NYC? [NYObserver]
· Post Prada, A Design Star Slims Down [NYTimes]