Across from the festive fountain in Washington Square Park steel is rising tall for the new NYU Center for Academic and Spiritual Life. Given the cosmic kerfuffle taking place further downtown, one might think this building is chicken soup for the soul of our fair city. Not so fast! The design, by Boston-based Machado and Silvetti Associates, was recently described by disgruntled critic James S. Russell as "a sallow coffin on stilts" decorated with "tree-form patterns that imbue no life whatever." Let us pray...that it comes out better looking than that.
Big bands of I-beams framing the building have gone in above Thompson Street, where real leafy trees recently stood. From a pit dug 30 feet down, beefy columns are shooting up, eclipsing the brick and terra cotta steeple of McKim, Mead and White's old Judson Memorial Church across the street. There is some good news here: The framework is covering up NYU's Kimmel Center next door. The bad news: The Center's boxy plan will leave exposed Kimmel's upper floors on the west, a hodgepodge of glass and brick rising above the park and facing the blunt butt end of another NYU newcomer, the barrel-roofed Furman Hall. The Center for Academic and Spiritual Life is set to open in 2012, barring any Mayan-predicted apocalypses.
· 58 Washington Square South - Center for Academic and Spiritual Life [NYU Construction]
· New York University Assails Greenwich Village [Bloomberg]
· Center for Academic and Spiritual Life coverage [Curbed]