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Curbed Awards '08: Architecture Part III

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As is our wont this time of year, it's time for us to hand out metaphorical hardware to the most deserving and important people, places, and things in the real estate, architecture, and neighborhood universes of New York City this past year. That's right, it's time for the Fifth Annual Curbed Awards! Strap in and enjoy.

Building of the Year
It's hard to believe that we got our first look inside Julian Schnabel's Palazzo Chupi this year. The West 11th Street Tower of Pink Pompeii Red feels like an old friend. But it was 2008 when we got inside, outside, inside again, poolside, lobbyside and Schnabelside. It was the year of Chupi in Crisis. Or to put it succinctly, it was the Year of Chupi.

Most Awesome Architecture Comment on Last Year's Curbed Awards We Just Discovered
"Where in the West Village is this Palazzo Chupi located?"

The Sincerest Form of Flattery Award

What do you do when you're developing a site in the North Tribeca Historic District, but you want your creation to have a modern spin? Easy! You plan to erect a carbon copy of the gorgeously preserved warehouse next door ... out of aluminum! Said one Community Board 1 member, "It's between genius and madness." Let's hope this crazy creation comes to fruition so that the genius vs. madness argument gets settled once and for all.

The Adventures in Adaptation Award

It's one of the coolest landmarks in the East Village, but when the old German library building at 137 Second Avenue hit the market as a potential mansion with a cringe-worthy sales pitch, we figured it was only a matter of time before the former Cabrini Stuyvesant Polyclinic underwent some unpleasant changes. But to the surprise of everyone, a British consulting firm called ?What If! took over and restored the interiors to their original grandeur. Now about that name...

Funky Facades of the Annum
3) Perforated steel skin? Thanks so very much, 245 Tenth Avenue.
2) So let's just put it out there: what in the name of Ukraine is up with the "shimmery" (quotes ours) facade that's currently being affixed to the side of architect Thom Mayne's Cooper Union Insanity Palace? It's like building a nice enough building, then wrapping it in Saran Wrap. We're holding out hope our opinion will change as the front facade is completed, in part because our office happens to stare at the thing, but early returns are ominous. Stay tuned.
1) The undulating concrete-stuff at SHoP's 290 Mulberry Street. We've been told the original material for the exterior didn't work out, which perhaps explains why the finished facade looks like a giant, dirty loofa after a long night at San Gennaro.

The Tumor Award
This year's nod to unwelcome vertical or horizontal building growth goes to the Chapin School on the Upper East Side (above), which blessed East End Avenue with this sensitive and contextual addition.

Fingers of the Year
Just when we were running out of Fingers, because most of them were put up 2007, the Original Finger Building came through in December with a buyout by HSBC and a ruling that will allow it to go to its fully Robert Scarano-designed 17 stories just off Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. Second Place goes to the Soliel, an under-the-radar finger which had been known at The Finger of S. 1 Street. Finally, a Hot Karl Fischer finger on Humboldt Street was branded the SkyHigh and put on the market as a rental. Oh, and there's also this Kimaya Lofts thing in Long Island City. Sadly, given the state of the market, the Brooklyn Finger could be a dying breed.

Hot Karl of the Year (aka The Steamer)

It would be impossible to wrap up 2008 without picking our favorite Hot Karl Fischer building to be completed this year. Et voila, the Jolly Greenish Giant, above, aka, NV 101 N5. Some love it. Many fear it. Yet it is what it is: really, really ugly.

Starchitect of the Year

As if Robert A.M. Stern posing triumphantly on top of 15 Central Park West's concierge desk in the pages of Vanity Fair wasn't enough to take over Jean Nouvel's crown, Bobby A.M. parlayed that building's megasuccess into a commission for 30 Park Place, developer Larry Silverstein's 80-story Four Seasons/condo tower near the World Trade Center?a sort-of 15 CPW on steroids that would be the city's tallest residential tower. And there would be no "21st Century pre-war residences" if it wasn't for Stern igniting the retro-yet-modern trend.