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Curbed Awards '10 Architecture: Rants, Catfights, Heroes & Villains

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It's time to make up a bunch of awards and hand them out to the most deserving people, places and things in the real estate, architecture, and neighborhood universes of New York City. Yep, it's time for the Seventh Annual Curbed Awards! Today's topic: architecture!

Best Starchitect Rants
3) Mexican starchitect Enrique Norten's TEN Arquitectos designed the new Cassa Hotel & Residences, but their design didn't quite make it onto the building. Norten complained in September that the building's bottom seven stories were supposed to be a glass skin covered by a stainless-steel screen. The glass has been axed, which Norten said was a result of the developer's cost-cutting and "a huge mistake."
2) Like Norten, French starchitect Jean Nouvel leaped to the defense of his guillotined Tower Verre, the MoMA-neighboring skyscraper that's been fighting off a legal challenge. Nouvel's argument? New Yorker's are just scared of tall buildings! In his next breath, Nouvel announced that his Vision Machine is already dated.
1) First place this year can go to no one other than Frank Gehry, for hating his adoring public. As he told Playboy, "I hate the celebrity architect thing...It's demeaning. It's derisive, and once it's said, it sticks. I get introduced all the time, 'Here's starchitect Frank Gehry?' My reaction: 'What the fuck are you talking about?'"

Best Anti-Starchitect Rants

3) With Frank Gehry's Beekman Tower getting so much attention as opening nears, we had to give Real Deal architecture critic James Gardner's epic takedown of the building a place on this list. Our favorite diss (don't read while eating): "The metallic cladding of 8 Spruce Street, which seems to be slipping off the surface like grease that puckers, puddles and undulates in its descent, comes off as little more than a big gimmick"
2) New York Times art critic Ken Johnson took a few steps onto Nicolai's turf with his review of the new Norman Foster-designed Sperone Westwater Gallery on the Bowery. He believes Foster's design has an "oddly cheap, low-tech and utilitarian appearance, like that of a discount-furniture emporium."
1) Taking home the top spot is, of course, the fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City. The guide's writers saved some of their harshest criticism for the Williamsburg waterfront, but really, we can't choose a favorite from among the 10 best reviews.

Best Architect-on-Architect Violence
Take it away, Roman & Williams: "Although a designer in his own right (who did the interiors of the first three Standard Hotels, two in LA and one in Miami), Shawn dropped in on only a few meetings over the five-year design process, never visited our offices or met with us privately, never put pen to paper on this project and never approved or corrected any sketch or working drawing. Therefore, he should not be given credit for the design. Hausman’s own website does not say he designed the Standard!"

Great Achievements in Finger Pointing
Dealing with some less-than-stellar reviews for cladding the historic former Tiffany & Co. building in dark glass during its transformation to the 15 Union Square West condominium, architect Eran Chen confessed that the developer value-engineered the project, and then blamed the slow sales effort for negatively affecting the building's look. "It will play much better when it is occupied," he said. Riiight.

Big Starchitects in Small Packages
3) Annabelle Selldorf's Sunset Park recycling plant!
2) Jean Nouvel's Dumbo carousel hut!
1) Norman Foster's Lower East Side art gallery!

Hot Karl of the Year

Economic slowdown be damned, it was a big year for the architectural portfolio of Montreal's finest, Karl Fischer. How to choose? Well, if it was Coors that taught us to love twins, then it was Hot Karl's East Harlem combo of the Conrad and Pascal that taught us two isn't necessarily better than one.

The Robert Scarano Award

Awarded annually to Robert Scarano for achievements in the realm of architectural abomination. It was an off year for the Scar, a sour cocktail of stalled development mixed with the city's crackdown on his naughty ways. But a tip of our hat goes out to 979 Willoughby, which managed to blight the Bushwick streetscape (if such a thing is possible) while outraging neighbors with its switch from luxury condos to a halfway house.

Most Serious Act of Starchitectural Heresy
The folks in charge of West Chelsea's Vision Machine decided that the spare black lobby designed by Jean Nouvel to match his spare black wardrobe was the reason that the $2,500/sqft apartments have been slow to sell, so they tore the thing up. To which Nouvel responded, "Oh, I'm sorry, and your Pritzker Prize is where?"

The "Get Off My Lawn!" of the Year
Can a 93-year-old man have the power to single-handedly derail a new skyscraper planned by one of the richest institutions in New York City? Just ask I.M. Pei. Actually, you don't have to.

The Gene Kaufmanologue of the Year
Honoring the best soundbite from the frequently interviewed architect.
"In fact, we have sometimes advised our clients to do something less ambitious because something more ambitious may not suit their long- or short-term goals."

The Welcome to the Party Invitational Cup
Awarded to the foreign-born starchitect set to make a splash on our shores.
First Manhattan project revealed in a comic book about your life? Bjarke Ingels: Welcome to the party!

Starchitect of the Year
Franktastic. The Gehrmeister. The Notorious F.O.G. Frank Gehry, y'all, because he's totally over that whole getting dumped from Atlantic Yards thing. His signature on the Manhattan skyline is coming soon, his World Trade Center Performing Arts Center is actually maybe happening one day, and he's got enough left in the tank to feud with Trump, chat with Playboy about what makes him so great, and work some product placement into his public appearances. He's Frank Fucking Gehry, and you're not.
· All Curbed Awards 2010 posts [Curbed]