The hotly anticipated showdown between French starchitect Jean Nouvel and rakish upstart John Beckmann went down at the City Planning Commission today, at a public hearing to consider the transfer of air rights and zoning changes needed to build the Nouvel-designed Tower Verre, aka the MoMA Tower, aka 53 West 53rd Street. To refresh your memory, Nouvel's incredibly tall and incredibly awesome hotel/apartments/galleries skyscraper is winding its way through the land-use review process. Some people think it's way too big, including Beckmann, whose firm Axis Mundi unleashed a crazy rival design, the Vertical Neighborhood. Word came that Beckmann would present his concept to the City Planning Commission for shits and giggles (Nouvel's design is the one actually commissioned, after all), and that he did. Nouvel, who has shown up to explain his vision in the past, turned up to lay what the French call "le smack down."
Nouvel spoke eloquently about the proposed 1250' tower?until he was cut off by the three-minute bell. Damn time limits! Is this any way to treat a Pritzker Prize winner? The next speaker: Beckmann. He presented his stack of boxes with some big picture boards, and declared that his scheme was a better alternative. Then he claimed that MoMA and Nouvel were "driving a stake through the heart of Manhattan." The look on Nouvel's face during Beckmann's testimony was, it's safe to say, classic. So it's Jean versus John?who will come out on top? The troops for both sides lined up to give testimony and the Commission listened respectfully, but revealed little regarding which way they will vote. The next CPC review session is slated for August 3rd.
· Tower Verre coverage [Curbed]