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Curbed Awards '11 Architecture: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

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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 Eighth Annual Curbed Awards! Today's topic: architecture!

Finger of the Year



The Finger of the Year award was carefully laid aside in anticipation of its 2011 awarding the moment 144 North 8th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was dubbed the Finger Building in 2009. GFI may have chopped the height from a proposed 16 floors to an actual 14 floors, but it's still the extended digit of Bedford Avenue, no matter how sweet its second story lawn smells to neighbors passing through the building's shadow.

Least Anticipated New Starchitecture, Non-Gehry Addition

Renzo Piano's Whitney Downtown in MePa earns this inversion award (usually "The Most Anticipated") after suffering greatly at the keyboard of archicritic Justin Davidson, who celebrated the museum's groundbreaking in May with an epic smackdown. Piano's building is a "thoroughly corporate museum" and a "missed opportunity of epic proportions."

Most Hated Facelift

The architectural reboot of 365 Broadway in Tribeca had many seeing redder than the bricks on the facade. Floors were added up top for additional luxury housing and neo-Georgian details were stripped at street level to make way for retail signage. Said one commenter in August: "This barbaric transformation should be used in architecture schools as a case study on a-historical insensitive renovations."

Best Supermodel Rendering

Rafael Viñoly's 432 Park is very tall, incredibly skinny and really cries out for attention. And while you can't stop looking at the towering figure, you're not sure if it's hate or love that you're feeling. One thing is for sure, Viñoly's towering hot bitch of a building will guarantee feelings of inadequacy and insecurity in all her neighbors.

Driving Bowery Residents to Drink Award

As if the Gene Kaufman-designed New Bowery Hotel at the corner of Bowery and East Third Street could not get any funkier. His new design has some insane features such as light up balconies and a Jumbotron that will recall the fevered dreams of the Bowery's long gone skid row bums. We're fairly certain that the Jumbotron is a sacrificial stalking horse to be jettisoned in appeasement to furious neighbors.

Most Extreme Makeover With Parking

A parking garage at 244 Mulberry Street in Little Italy is being turned into a 13,000 square foot mansion, complete with a squash court. Good parking being what it is though, the five new floors for residential use will retain the three-story parking garage underneath. Engineering on the project allows resting the superstructure on isolation pads that will minimize noise and vibration from the garage below, which will remain in operation. We hear CO detectors make for good housewarming gifts.

Historical Imprint Award

Before 2011, most people would have been hard-pressed to identify Zuccotti Park as a privately owned public space (POPS) rather than an Italian dinner spot on Mulberry Street. That all changed with this autumn's Occupy Wall Street protests, which spawned a million competing narratives on the fate and state of the U.S. economy and body politic. Zuccotti Park was the epicenter of the Occupy movement, which quickly spread worldwide, until Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD cleared the downtown space in a bit of midnight legal and logistical jujitsu that caught the protestors with their pants down. Whatever one thinks about the importance of the OWS movement or its lasting impact, we agree with NY Times archicritic Michael Kimmelman, who wrote that "Politics troubles our consciences. But places haunt our imaginations." After 2011, Zuccotti Park in Manhattan will hold a place in the world's imagination.

Best Building We'll Never See

The Dermot proposal for Brooklyn Bridge Park, designed by FxFowle. Seven different plans were submitted for consideration to the Brooklyn Bridge Park board and only one can be chosen as the real estate bedrock that will financially support the continued construction and operation of the park. We think the key to making the Dermot proposal's cantilevered, stacked deck design work is the rooftop greenspaces, which lend a certain hanging gardens continuity to the buildings. A lot of things can and can't happen between proposal renderings and ribbon cuttings, and we don't think we'll ever see this incarnation in real life.

Best Possible Result from the Worst Possible Process Award

The 9/11 Memorial opened this year after a long decade that brought out the worst in a lot of people intent on the doing the best possible thing. On the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, however, NYC did manage to have its memorial open for visitors, albeit ticketed visitors. For all the vituperation that went into hashing out the details of the memorial's design, critical reaction when it was completed was blessedly muted and mixed.

Most Soulful Tweeter Award

Michael Kimmelman, NY Times architecture critic. Kiammelman's not the most prolific Twitter user certainly, but he's not just posting links to increase pageviews for his latest pieces at the Times either. Occasionally he'll lapse into that thinking-aloud musing that most people curb online, lest they say the wrong thing. It's refreshing.

Building of the Year: HL23

The High Line hugging spaceship of a building HL23 is the architectural takeaway for most visitors to Phase 2 of the elevated park. It's voyeuristic/exhibitionistic design would be practically moot if not for its synergistic placement next to HL visitors who can peer inside what NY Mag critic Davidson called "an attention-seeking container for attention-seeking people." It is a tower for the Twitter age.

· Curbed Awards 2011 [Curbed]