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.
Block of the Year
Last year, a boutique development boom made Bond Street an easy choice for BOTY. This year, we'd give it to the entire High Line District/West Chelsea environs if we could, but we can't! Instead, we'll single out and salute West 19th Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. We had the debut of Cary Tamarkin's 456 West 19th Street, continued work on the north end of the first phase of the High Line, progress on Annabelle Selldorf's 520 West Chelsea and Shigeru Ban's Metal Shutter Houses (both seen above, via Wired New York), and Jean Nouvel's 100 Eleventh Avenue being able to score new financing despite being $50 million over budget. It's the West Chelsea Starchitecture Zone, folks. It's the block of the year!
Welcome to the Party Award
Awarded to old-ish architects making a new-ish splash in NYC.
3) Danny Libeskind. Okay, he's not really a stranger to the NYC architecture scene, but considering the way the Freedom Tower was snatched from him, it'll be great to see his 54-story hovertube rise over Madison Square Park. Well, except for the fact that it never will.
2) Ben Van Berkle. For his first New York project, the Dutch architect envisions "black metal scarves" floating above Broadway. Just so long as they don't choke the life out of this trippy little project first.
1) Neal Denari. Proving that he ain't just a mountain in Alaska, Denari's plan for a residential tower cantilevered sort of next to the High Line in Chelsea made for our favorite photogalleries this year.
The Big Tease Award
It seems like avant-garde Iraqi-born starchitect Zaha Hadid will work on anything, as long as it's not a part of the New York City skyline. Still, New Yorkers finally got a taste of Zaha on a large scale with the temporary landing of her handbag-inspired Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion, aka the Orb of Insanity. The touring art exhibition was grounded due to budget concerns following its brief stay at Central Park.
Give Up the Goods Already! Award
3) Though Related Companies boss (and soon-to-be Miami Dolphins owner!) Stephen Ross has already indicated that the Related/Boston Properties collabo at 740 Eighth Avenue is delayed indefinitely, given the amount of destruction?poor Frankie & Johnnie's!?underway to clear land for the Times Square skyscraper, we deserve to see something, no?
2) Pretty much all the details are out on Extell's future massive Park Hyatt hotel on 57th Street across the street from Carnegie Hall, which has been an empty pit for so long that Steve Cuozzo couldn't legally drink when the land was first cleared. So how about a rendering, guys?
1) Related has made some decent progress on the former Hell's Kitchen Swimming Hole this year, and now that we know the Arquitectonica-designed block-long West 42nd Street complex will have 623 rental units, 151 condos and theater spaces designed by Frank Gehry, why not release some pretty pictures to build some buzz?
The Ugliest New Williamsburg Building of 2008
Because Williamsburg matters. And is ugly.
Gene Kaufman's dastardly Decora, above. Hurl-O-Rama! And rent-to-own!
Don't Make Nicolai Angry, People
Piling on to Brad Cloepfil's remake of 2 Columbus Circle into The Hi Building was certainly the architectural order of the day this past year, but no one did it with more sheer vitriol that NYT archicritic Nicolai Ouroussoff, who finally snapped after writing one too many glowing pieces about Sir Norman Foster and Dubai. Sample bile: "Poorly detailed and lacking in confidence, the project is a victory only for people who favor the safe and inoffensive and have always been squeamish about the frictions that give this city its vitality." And a victory for people who hate puppies! And oxygen!
The Robert Scarano Award
Awarded annually to Robert Scarano for achievements in the realm of architectural abomination. (For the record, we had 83 tagged entries for Robert Scarano.) Yes, Scaranos continue to rise, but he was booted off three high profile jobs--the Heavy Metal Building(AKA 360 Smith Street in Carroll Gardens), a Fourth Avenue condo in Park Slope and the Carroll Gardens Hell building. The Department of Buildings filed internal charges against him over two obscure Greenpoint projects and, by the end of the year, almost all the renderings of Scarano buildings had vanished from his website. Many of his early buildings, like Satori, are now on the market. In 20 years will be it a cool thing to live in a Scarano?
The Silver Medal
This new annual award, presented by the committee to the year's most questionable landmark designation, goes in its inaugural year to Greenwich Village's Silver Towers complex. Yes, the triplet towers (built in 1966) were designed by the legendary I.M. Pei, and yes, they are a textbook example of modernism?but they're also really ugly, as even the preservationists who sponsored the landmarking application and campaigned on the complex's behalf have noted. So why the effort to preserve the Silver Towers? Because NYU was thinking about cramming one or two 40-story towers into the superblock's open space, that's why. And so, the lesser of two evils was chosen.