We've had 24 hours to let the craziness of the conceptual design for the 53 West 53rd Street skyscraper next to MoMA sink in, and we're still at a loss for words! ArchPaper spoke to John Beckmann, head of the firm Axis Mundi?which designed the "Vertical Neighborhood" as an alternative to French starchitect Jean Nouvel's Tower Verre proposal?about why he and his staff did it. Answer: Boredom and anger! "Hines and MoMA have been jamming this down everyone's throat," Beckmann says, adding, "A lot of community groups are disgruntled and aghast at the height of it. And when they added another eight floors recently and got bigger, we decided it would be an interesting site to tackle." Three months later, the 50-story "assemblage of disparate architectural language" landed in our inbox. Commence brainmelt.
All in fun, but game over, right? Not quite! Next week Novel's 82-story Tower Verre will land before the City Planning Commission, and ArchPaper reports Beckmann has been invited to make a presentation at the hearing. Showdown! But why wait for the fireworks? Though we can't see the developer ditching Nouvel's vision, we can still stir up some debate:
Meanwhile, community groups opposed to Nouvel's massive miracle machine are trying to rally the troops for the July 22 City Planning meeting. Tower Verre has already been roasted at the Community Board level, but those votes are merely advisory. There are bigger stakes in the City Planning fight, and an e-mail making the rounds screams, "Last chance to show the City Planning Commission how we feel about a monster tower next-door to MoMA!" Members of the public will be granted three minutes to say what's on their mind. C'mon, City Planning, is that really enough time for the riled-up Midtowners to get out all their rage?
· Say No to Nouvel [ArchPaper]
· Jean Nouvel's MoMA Tower Reimagined as...THIS! [Curbed]
· Tower Verre coverage [Curbed]