When Lord Norman Foster, an architect so important that his driver's license also reads Baron Foster of Thames Bank, tried to pull a Hearst on the Parke-Bernet Gallery at 980 Madison Avenue?inserting a glassy new tower into a drab existing building?the locals threw a hissy fit so fierce that the plan was shelved. The Upper East Side generation gap that caused the disconnect would seem insurmountable, but Foster and developer Aby Rosen are back for round two, and Nicolai Ouroussoff has the reveal of the proposed new 980 Madison Avenue today. Like the previous design, it's a new building stuck into an existing structure, but this one is low and lazy. It's hard to get a feel from the one little rendering, so we go to The Ouroussoff:
Clad in elegant bronze bands, its low blocky form would rest directly on the existing structure, echoing its exact proportions. More important, perhaps, it would be far less visible from the multimillion-dollar penthouse apartments just across the street.The design is "more polite and less original," Ouroussoff writes, which means that Foster?like any human being clinging to sanity?probably wanted to avoid World War III with a bunch of rich cranky old folks. Can you blame him?
· Redesigning a Building to Preserve Peace in the Neighborhood [NYT]
· UES Generation Gap Killed Foster's 980 Madison [Curbed]