Somebody finally has something nice to say about controversial architect Robert Scarano, and surprisingly, it's the gatekeepers of one of the most respected texts on NYC architecture! This week the fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City gets dropped on the brains of archigeeks everywhere (careful, it's 1,055 pages), and this latest version of the beloved manual is full of surprises?such as the praise not only for Scarano projects like ScarBow and Long Island City's Vere (which the authors already let us know they were digging), but also the hilarious ways in which the book takes swipes at those buildings deemed unworthy.
You may have noticed that the city went through a bit of a building boom in the decade since the book's previous edition came out, and authors Fran Leadon and Norval White (who passed away late last year; original co-author Elliot Willensky died in 1990) go after the new stuff with gusto. While the majority of the book celebrates the good, the AIA Guide is at its most entertaining when applying its witty and pithy critiques to things considered by the authors to be crapitechture. Here are some examples!
The book tackles over 6,000 buildings across all five boroughs, so we haven't been through the whole thing just yet. But while flipping we took note of our favorite catty remarks made about new buildings. For those without the book (order it already!), we've added links to photos of the buildings being panned to serve as visual aids. Enjoy!
10) 15 Central Park West (Robert A.M. Stern): "A stage set: an attempted re-incarnation of the spacious, luxurious apartment architecture constructed along Central Park West between the two world wars. Everything's exaggerated, retro and gigantic, from the marble lobby to the bathrooms, from private screening rooms to wine cellars. The Century, next door, was a founding father of this Central Park West apartment row, and the real thing." [photo]
9) One Ten 3rd (Greenberg Farrow Architects): "Another Blue Tower? Scarcely. More an incoherent construction of glass." [photo]
8) Chelsea Enclave (Polshek Partnership): "The new building includes some space for the [General Theological Seminary's] theological pursuits, and has helped the seminary financially, but architecturally it's a real intrusion. What had been a secret, and sacred, garden is now the shared back yard of yuppies." [photo]
7) On Prospect Park (Richard Meier): "A massive beached whale...Fortunately, it's not actually on the park; it just seems that way." [photo]
6) Avant Chelsea (1100 Architects): "A glassy high-rise offering five-star hotel living, but the floor to ceiling glass and chiseled blue shell has nothing to do with the street to which it belongs. The sales pitch is 'Your Life Here.' Is that an offer or a threat?" [photo]
5) William Beaver House (Tsao & McKown Architects): "The Post-It Note Building." [photo]
4) The Chapin School (Marner Architecture, 2008 addition): "Said the modernist addition to the neo-Georgian brick school: 'Sorry! I landed on your roof! Pardon me! Now I seem to be stuck to your cornice! Oh, well...'" [photo]
3) Astor Place Tower (aka the Sculpture for Living; Gwathmey Siegel): "It might be more at home on the skyline of some other town: Stamford, Charlotte, Tampa all come to mind." [photo]
2) Palazzo Chupi (Julian Schnabel): "This 12-story eruption is a mess of competing balconies, arched windows, faux-Venetian details, and hot pink stucco. At a smaller scale it might be funny, but it's too big to be a good joke." [photo]
1) These three consecutive Williamsburg entries: Northside Piers (FxFowle): "Three glass towers along the East River. This is Brooklyn?" The Edge (Stephen B. Jacobs Group): "More towers along the water, just north of Northside Piers. Presumably named for its proximity to the water, not for the Irish guitarist. Again, this is Brooklyn?" 20, 30, 50 Bayard Street (Karl Fischer): "Mr Fischer, of Montreal, has been busy in Williamsburg. These three glass boxes, with a few curves thrown in here and there, stare down at the park. There are dozens of other similar projects in the neighborhood, and a stroll west and south will reveal them, but seeing these three is probably more than enough." [Northside, Edge, Karl Fischer Row]
· AIA Guide to New York City [Amazon]